Church out of bounds on collection
I am outraged at the recent actions of the Catholic Church in regard to the upcoming abortion rights referendum.
On Sept. 13, parishioners were exhorted from the pulpit to contribute money not to a charitable group but to a political organization: the Vote kNOw Coalition.
At the archbishop's behest, priests were to solicit funds during Mass as a second collection. (The second collection is ordinarily charitable in nature and is part of the offertory.)
Priests were also given pamphlets and a video prepared by Vote kNOw to assist them in their fund-raising efforts.
I have several problems with what happened throughout Maryland last Sunday.
First, such politicizing from the pulpit is offensive and coercive, and it clearly goes beyond the bounds of what a church or priest should do.
Second, the information provided by the priests regarding the referendum was fraught with inaccuracy and half-truths but was given as "gospel." If the church is resolute regarding this issue, why is it so unwilling to describe the referendum in an unbiased, truthful manner?
Third, since this was done during Mass, there was no opportunity for discussion or debate from those of us who are pro-choice as well as Catholic.
I urge any Catholics who wish to examine the issue armed with facts rather than distortions to contact Maryland for Choice at 467-VOTE, the League of Women Voters, or Catholics for a Free Choice at 202-986-6093. Unless you know the real truth, you cannot make an informed decision.
The writer is the Baltimore area liaison for Catholics for a Free Choice.
Clinton & the draft
The American people sense Bill Clinton is not comfortable with his own responses to questions regarding the draft, and it's his failure to level that is sustaining this non-issue.
Mr. Clinton is at his best when he tells people what they don't want to hear: Each of us will have to sacrifice. We need to pull together. We must learn to be tolerant and compassionate. Economic solutions won't be quick or easy.
This is called leadership. If he looks the electorate in the eye and tells the unvarnished truth, he can turn the nagging draft questions into a political positive.
Even if exposing his anguish requires some vulnerability, Bill Clinton wins by revealing his humanity. A review of the last several occupants of the White House shows that Mr. Clinton doesn't have to be perfect to be president.
For example, Mr. Clinton might explain that he was young, it was a confusing time and he was getting conflicting advice.
He could point out that he wasn't afraid to serve (all 20-year-olds think they're immortal), but the truth is he didn't want to spend a couple of years in the military if he didn't have to, especially during that tumultuous period when he had sincere doubts about his government's policies.
Although he did nothing illegal, he now regrets not volunteering for some form of military service.
He could even share his respect and admiration for men like Al Gore, Bob Kerrey and others who resolved their conflicts by serving in the military.
Perhaps he would even say that he still feels some guilt when he thinks of all those young draftees who served because they had no choices or no educational deferments.
Since that time 25 years ago, Bill Clinton has served his community and his state honestly and energetically.
There is nothing wrong with youthful mistakes, especially if one learns from them. Mr. Clinton must trust the American people to weigh his total record and, by looking to the future, allow him to continue to serve his country.
Roger C. Kostmayer
We had just left our car in a garage for repairs. It was the second day of public school at 8 a.m. when my husband and I boarded a city bus at 25th and Calvert streets headed out toward Roland Park. The bus was already filled with bright-eyed kids looking polished from head to toe, all seats taken.
As we moved to the back of the bus to have standing space, two of the children, a boy and a girl, looking a bit surprised to see a couple of faded grandparents there at that time (the only adults on the bus), promptly stood up and offered us their seats.
Around us the group took up one or two tunes and sang out with sweet enthusiasm: "Where is pointer? Where is pointer? There you are! There you are!" Next came, "Bunny Phoo Phoo," favorites of our own children and grandchildren. One boy across from us continued reading his book.
At our own bus stop, the kids even helped us get the rear door open.
We wished we could continue and share the rest of their day at Roland Park public school. May the coming year help them realize the wonderful potential bursting in that bus this morning.
Jean S. Zoerheide
Today state legislators and health care officials will gather to celebrate Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital's 70th birthday.