Photo worth a thousand wordsI was immediately taken by the...

Letters

September 27, 1997

Photo worth a thousand words

I was immediately taken by the poignant beauty of the photograph on Page One Sept. 19, captioned ''Assessing the damage.''

I was not surprised, however, to find that it was taken by Algerina Perna, one of the finest photographers on your staff.

Ms. Perna adds a dignity and beauty to every subject she portrays.

Thanks you for bringing us her fine work.

Jonathan P. West

Bel Air

Father Gallagher didn't get Mother Teresa

What a distressing and surprising item to appear in the Sunday Sun critical of Mother Teresa, on the day (Sept. 14) following her burial.

Aware of The Sun's editorial views, I was not surprised that ''A Good Book With Troubling Verses'' was printed. What was surprising was the fact that the author is a retired Catholic priest -- the Rev. Joseph Gallagher.

My first thought recalled an old saying about ''damning with faint praise.'' After realizing the author's vocation I thought: Another priest challenging the teaching authority of the Church.

Father Gallagher, by his words or by implication, considers Mother Teresa ''too monastic,'' an ''absolutist on moral matters,'' hypocritical in her sympathy for Princess Diana's divorce, boastful, blind, ''extremist, unrealistic and/or naive,'' sly as a fox, and not ''rational'' in her approach to the sanctity of life. Teachings, which seem to trouble Father Gallagher, concern the ordination of women, and contraception, as a minimum.

He also chooses to give currency to Christopher Hitchens' hostile appraisal of Mother Teresa while offering lame excuses for her involvement with certain shady characters. Mother Teresa could see Jesus in an AIDS patient. Are dictators and crooks less deserving to this selfless woman?

If Father Gallagher intended his article as a tribute to Mother Teresa, he has failed dismally.

Vincent Ciletti

Baltimore

Who can analyze and live with the unresolved apparent contradictions which are found in a saint's life such as Mother Teresa's?

Only an Irishman with a brillant intellect such as Joe Gallagher (Perspective article, Sept. 14). For he knows that in analyzing a saint's life and trying to make logical sense of it or comparing our lives to a saint's life, we all fall short.

James Narutowicz Sr.

Towson

The Rev. Joseph Gallagher's article on Mother Teresa (Perspective, Sept. 14), ostensibly written to report on her critics but actually a forum for Father Gallagher to air his grievances against the Roman Catholic Church, fails to convince the reader that we in the materialistic West know better how to care for the poor than a woman who dedicated half a century to doing it.

Not surprisingly, his primary complaint about Mother Teresa is her ''absolutist opinions on moral matters'' (translation: her unwavering faithfulness to church teaching).

He attributes her opposition to abortion and contraception to some kind of blind simple-mindedness, as opposed to the ''enlightened'' thinking of the West, and proposes to change Christ's words from ''when I was hungry, you fed me'' to ''when I was hungry, you sterilized me.''

Trying to eliminate the poor by rendering them sterile is not a Christ-like solution. It is simple Western arrogance to propose that we should decide who has children and who does not and to base that decision on material wealth. Above all, Mother Teresa loved all life. I am a 26-year-old mother and I plan to pass on her example to all the children God blesses me with.

The ranks of those who agree with the totality of the church's teachings are swelling nearly as fast as Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. And the numbers of those who espouse Mr. Gallagher's views in opposition to church teaching are dwindling.

People simply aren't attracted to a philosophy based on half-truths, but they'll sacrifice a lot for the truth for which Mother Teresa live and died.

Suzan Sammons

Randallstown

No one in his or her right mind can possibly decry the work that Mother Teresa did among poor children in India.

The problem, however, is what is going to become of these hordes and hordes of homeless children, mostly illegitimate, in a country vastly overpopulated and where poverty and disease are rampant.

The Rev. Joseph Gallagher is to be commended for addressing this problem (Perspective, Sept. 14), as is The Sun for printing his article.

Ruth H. Schaffer

Baltimore

Pub Date: 9/27/97

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