Question of the month Now that more than six months...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 20, 2002

Question of the month

Now that more than six months have passed since Sept. 11, how has your life changed?

Has daily life returned to its normal course or been transformed by the "war on terror"? Or has the meaning of what is "normal" changed?

We are looking for 300 words or less. The deadline is April 22. Letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them. Letters should include your name and address, along with a day and evening telephone number. E-mail us: letters@baltsun.com; write us: Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001; fax us: 410-332-6977.

Don't dilute the high ideals of the church

Maureen Dowd is correct that it's a painful tragedy whenever a child is abused by anyone in a position of trust -- a priest, a teacher or even a family member ("Church must fight abuse at its roots," Opinion*Commentary, April 1).

It is an inexorable paradox and flaw of human nature that those who seek to do good sometimes do evil. Those who do so should not be above the law. But several facts were left out of Ms. Dowd's discussion of the scandal affecting the church today.

First, the percentage of pedophiles in the priesthood is similar to that of the general population.

Therefore, while the scandal is dismaying, it does not indicate a higher proclivity among the celibate to perform aberrant sexual acts.

Second, what is most hurtful about the current scandal arises from church policy and not church doctrine.

Church doctrine with respect to sexual morals (marriage, homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc.) presents an uncompromisingly high ideal of human behavior.

Catholics consider this ideal the timeless standard by which we are measured before God.

The church does not and should not compromise its teaching based on the shifting sands of secular thought, as Ms. Dowd suggests it should.

Our popular culture is one of materialism, greed, hyper-sexuality and personal freedom at the expense of personal responsibility.

It's a culture that often flies in the face of the Gospel's ideals of love of God, humility, service, poverty and chastity.

It is the call of the faithful from age to age to remake themselves according to those ideals, not to remake the ideals based on personal opinion, popular psychology or the whims of secular thought.

Joseph Melchor-Heinlen

Catonsville

Toss out legislators who take pay hike

The beginning of the baseball season and the end of the state legislative session bring to mind the old baseball expression "throw the bums out."

This expression comes to mind because, in this time of lower state revenues -- when full-time state employees didn't get a raise, then had their 2 percent cost-of-living increase delayed a year as their pension plan was not fully funded -- the politicians in Annapolis were so arrogant as to vote themselves a $3,000-a-year pay raise and give the new governor a $7,500 raise.

These leaders have lived up to the reputation that politicians have for being interested only in lining their pockets with taxpayers' money.

And House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and his buddies found the millions needed to continue the state subsidy for the under-used, scheduled airline service from Cumberland to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. If they could find that money, why couldn't they fund state employees' cost-of-living hike, or at least fully fund our pensions?

If Mr. Taylor and his buddies were really interested in Maryland and its citizens during this budget crunch, they would have joined the rest of our state employees and not taken any pay raises.

Come the fall, as baseball season ends and election day arrives, I will vote to throw the bums out.

David C. Delisio

Walkersville

Burglaries decline in Baltimore County

The Sun's article "Proving guilt in burglaries is a challenge" (April 7) was misleading. Very close to the top of the article, The Sun tells readers: "Burglaries in Howard County and other suburban Maryland areas have been up sharply in recent years."

This undocumented, unattributed claim is made in the context of a Baltimore County investigation.

Readers might logically think Baltimore County is one of those jurisdictions in which burglaries "have been up sharply in recent years."

But in fact the number of burglaries in Baltimore County has been steadily declining. In 1995, the county had 7,505 burglaries. That figure declined to 5,499 in 2000, the last year for which we have complete figures.

Preliminary indications show that 2001 burglaries will reflect the downward trend.

The article later seems to cast doubt on the validity of clearance rates cited by Baltimore County and other police departments, by quoting an FBI analyst who says that "some departments" inflate their burglary clearance rates and "victimize the offender."

But The Sun provides absolutely no evidence that Baltimore County is among those agencies that might be inflating clearance rates.

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