Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

December 04, 2004

The arts give children tools of imagination

Mayor Martin O'Malley is definitely not overstating the power of the arts in school or of self-expression and creativity in the development of healthy, productive human beings and communities ("Mayor's not overstating the power of art," Opinion

I was surprised and saddened to read the column by Cardinal William H. Keeler ("Catholicism under siege," Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 28). If he believes he is living in a society that condones anti-Catholicism, I respect his belief. However, this has not been my impression of the Baltimore or Maryland I have lived in for more than 60 years.

In my youth, the differences between Protestants and Catholics were a lot more on people's minds than they are today. But even then, anti-Catholic, or for that matter anti-Protestant, attitudes were minimal.

Schoolchildren can be among the most prejudiced and hurtful of people, unfortunately, but I do not recall any instances of anti-Catholicism in the Baltimore public schools I attended.

I'm a Protestant, and most of the young women I dated in high school were Catholics. Yet I never experienced any negative reactions from their families or mine.

I spent my college years at Loyola College, where I was treated respectfully and students and faculty engaged in good-natured banter about our religious differences.

I believe, respectfully, that the cardinal is confusing a difference over religious policies with an attack on the Catholic Church.

Not all Catholics agree with all of the official positions of the Roman Catholic Church, including its views on the death penalty, abortion, the ordination of women and gay issues. Indeed, the reality of American pluralism is that a diversity of views are held both within and between individual religious groups.

Opposition to the official teachings of any such group is a disagreement about the particular policy. It is not discrimination or prejudice against that faith group.

People may disagree with a policy of the Catholic Church without being anti-Catholic.

I believe our society has come a long way from the era of religious hostility so that we now live, work and play together in not just toleration but mutual respect and personal affection.

David H. Pardoe

Columbia

The column by Cardinal William H. Keeler presented a disturbing argument against free speech that I could let not go unchallenged.

Cardinal Keeler tries to liken anti-Catholicism to racism, and suggests that it, therefore, should not be tolerated.

He laments "policy-makers who defame our clergy and assault our doctrinal beliefs" and "ridicule our church's teachings." But there is a big difference between attacking ideas or beliefs and attacking someone because of the way he or she was born.

In a free society, ideas and beliefs are open to debate, attack and even ridicule.

Fred Brown

Cockeysville

Cardinal William H. Keeler's column was deeply unsettling.

He wants us to feel pity for the Catholic Church? After the fortune it has stored in the Vatican? After the murderous Crusades? After the Inquisition and the persecution of heretics?

After the church's excuses to defend or overlook slavery in Latin America and the Holocaust in Europe?

After allowing families to overpopulate our planet because of some unreasonable theological bias against contraception? After denying women full participation?

After the church's foolish hostility toward science, from Galileo and Darwin to stem cell research?

After covering for pederast priests and abusive nuns?

Cardinal Keeler's comparison of anti-Catholicism with anti-Semitism, homophobia and racism is laughable if not irresponsible.

Is he really trying to compare "rumors of papal conspiracies" with Auschwitz or the killing of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.?

I would suggest Cardinal Keeler take a deep at his beloved institution and ask this simple question: What was the basis for Christ's philosophy - "Love thy brother" or "Stick to the old laws"?

Jesus was a man clearly ahead of his time. If he were still alive, I would bet we would spot him at a gay marriage in Massachusetts.

Lucio Gama

Baltimore

In "Catholicism under siege," Cardinal William H. Keeler laments that anti-Catholicism is not only tolerated but appears to show signs of revival in the mainstream press.

The cardinal appears perplexed that "most Catholics seem resigned to it." He then cites two notable exceptions. The first are immigrants who "were raised to embrace the shared values and beliefs of all Catholics" and fiercely defend them. The second are young people, "most of whom are unapologetic about their Catholic heritage and about what it means to be Catholic."

If most Catholics seem resigned to anti-Catholicism and are reluctant to defend the faith, I would suggest that the church hierarchy engage in some serious self-examination as to the causes of the problem.

First and foremost, the "shared values and beliefs" that Catholic immigrants brought to the United States have been turned upside-down over the past 40 years.

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