Patriarch's visit highlights differencesI wish to thank...

LETTERS

November 07, 1997

Patriarch's visit highlights differences

I wish to thank The Sun's editorial staff and reporters John Rivera and Stephanie Shapiro, the Associated Press and the broadcast media for their excellent coverage of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's historic Oct. 23 visit to Baltimore. All of Maryland's Orthodox Christians are also most appreciative of the warm hospitality and gracious welcome Cardinal William Keeler and Mayor Kurt Schmoke gave to their patriarch.

However, I did read with concern Mike McManus' Oct. 31 column on the patriarch's address at Georgetown University.

The patriarch did not say anything new concerning the position of the Orthodox church as it engages in ecumenical programs and theological dialogues with Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and many others. I would very much doubt that the patriarch said anything that Cardinal Keeler and Archbishop Weakland have not heard before.

The Orthodox church enters into ecumenical discussions and dialogue with both Christians and non-Christians not to proselytize, but to have communication and interlocution with all. The Orthodox church maintains, nevertheless, that it is the repository and guardian of the true Christian faith.

In the euphoria of the warm and brotherly embraces and the beautiful and sincere words of prayer and longing for Christian unity, it was necessary for the patriarch to honestly, clearly and forthrightly -- perhaps too forcefully for some -- point out that there are a number of doctrinal and dogmatic questions that remain unresolved and still divide us.

With prayer and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, the day will soon come when these will all be resolved.

Evan Alevizatos Chriss

Baltimore

Make MVA respond: On time or it's free

Recently, I had the unfortunate task of visiting the Motor Vehicles Administration at Mondawmin. The required transaction was the renewal of my tags.

I received number 193 from a surly clerk who instructed me to take a seat and wait for my number to be called. The number being attended to was D103. Two hours and 40 minutes later (easily ascertainable, as the numbered ticket indicates the time you receive it) my number was called and I received my new sticker within 30 seconds of approaching the window. The wait was inappropriate and resulted from a lack of ''window personnel'' and from the indifference of the personnel at the two working windows.

My recommendation to the state, if it is interested, is the following: Institute new time guidelines for each transaction type handled at the MVA. Let the MVA decide the time that should be required (i.e. one hour for tags, 42 minutes for licenses, etc.). Once these times are established, they should be posted at every MVA location. Failure to complete the transaction within the time guidelines would result in the fee for the transaction's being waived.

The MVA must be held accountable and one means to accomplish accountability would be to measure it by revenue intake. The administrators would be measured on performance, as revenue shortfalls could be directly attributed to the area and the persons in charge.

Herman Shapiro

Baltimore

Failed marriages ought to be stopped

Your Oct. 20 article regarding Louisiana's ''covenant marriage'' brings to light the problem arising from mixing religion and law.

What shall we say about those who choose a civil marriage instead of a religious one? Do they represent a lower level of ''family value''? I think not.

There is nothing sadder or more criminal than forcing a couple to stay together because of some arbitrary mandate in the name of some perceived morality. Are those who offer a loving, secure and moral home life without a marriage license worse than the spousal and child abusers who will now be forced to stay together to ''work things out''? The immediate as well as the extended families suffer untold heartaches for no goodly purpose.

A generation ago, all the same cruelty existed, it was just kept silent. I propose making divorce even easier. Who cares if a marriage lasts a decade or a day? It is not, as some would like to glorify, some sort of sacred institution that lives and breathes on its own. It is, rather, a thing that requires nurturing. And when one or both parties involved stops caring, it is over.

I would like to see a system whereby the couple has six months to work out the details after separation. If not, the judge or arbitrator will step in, decide who gets what and the divorce is final. Child support payments and alimony should be immediately garnished from wages.

Michael Caplan

Pikesville

NRA favors toughness on violent offenders

I applaud Joe Siamon for the tough-on-crime views expressed in his Oct. 22 letter, ''Shouldn't grant parole if a weapon is used.'' I must, however, take issue with his assertion that the National Rifle Association would be among the strongest opponents of the hard-line approach that he advocates.

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