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4/22/09

CHURCH ...

I read your article concerning the closings and future of several historic Catholic churches due to the diocese's consolidation plan ("Sacrificial Lambs," April 8). Your article is not as critical of the diocese's consolidation plan as others I've read, but still it jumped on the Catholic Church-bashing bandwagon. While I agree that it would be a shame to lose such historic and architectural landmarks, I disagree with several of the other statements you made in the article.

With the diocese's consolidation plan, once again the Catholic Church can do no right. As a practicing Catholic, I'm a little tired of that claim.

Brian Tomcik

Sagamore Hills

Your piece about the closing of churches was one of the best that I've read on that subject — and I think I've read all of those published. You pointed out the problems, the causes and the unanswered questions.

This is a situation that carries heart-wrenching moments, a large degree of nostalgia, challenging economics and a review of Cleveland's political failure of the last 40 years. With hindsight, we can see our many mistakes. We all carry some responsibility, and I am hopeful that we will continue the discussion.

We must talk about the exodus. Why did people leave our city? Why did the diocese allow new churches to be built when inner-city parishes began to see more and more empty pews? Was it quite simply a chase for the money? Twenty and 30 years ago when suburban churches were being built — some of the worst architecture ever produced — control was still very much in the hand of the bishop and the diocesan office. Why did they not say no? As recently as four years ago, the diocese allowed the building of La Sagrada Familia Church, a large Taco Bell-style edifice, to be built on Detroit and the West 70s. What kind of political horse-trading was that all about?

You mention the issue of the church's failure to move into the modern world. This, of course, is a statement that many of us wonder about. When should we adapt for the sake of holding the flock together? When should we stand strong to protect that which we believe should not be changed? Protestant churches as well as Roman Catholic churches have lost members. The only place we see growth is in the evangelical community. Of course that's scary. I am a church person. I was not raised in any rigid or structured ideology, but when I was in college during the late '50s, I became interested in doctrine and eventually became an Episcopalian. Most students in my generation attended church.

After Vatican II and the societal changes of the '60s and '70s, I drifted away from the Episcopalian church as that institution moved to the left. Today they are more interested in social issues than in theology. Fortunately, I found a home nearly 10 years ago. I now attend St. James Church, one of the few Anglican Catholic churches in the region. You might like to visit sometime and see history in action. Nothing has changed there. The altar was not turned around. We do not shake hands and greet brothers and sisters. Of course, it is a haven for conservatives. Actually, you would probably find a great story there.

One issue that seems to be muted in this discussion is the fact that our city's government, like those of most American cities, has been in a downward spiral for nearly 40 years. Today our city is a haven for patronage and the inept. Of course, we don't want to administer the civil-service exam. Few would probably pass it. Jane Campbell's hiring of Jeffrey Johnson, paroled from prison, is a perfect example. Although many folks left the church, as you mention, for doctrinal reasons, more people left the city because of the quality of government. That exodus continues.

On a brighter note, there are inner-city parishes that are doing well. Immaculate Conception, on Superior Avenue, seems to be packing them in for their traditional Latin Mass. St. Peter's on Superior, unfortunately slated for closing, is a very vibrant parish of suburbanites. St. Emeric, a thriving Hungarian parish on the closing list, is alive and well. These parishes would make great follow-up stories.

Parker Bosley

Cleveland

AND STATES

The states' rights clique revolves around a core of mindlessness and name-calling ("Right Rage," April 15). Where were they when the Patriot Act came out? No Child Left Behind? NAFTA? The WTO? CAFTA?

Where were they when Reagan raised FICA payroll taxes? They could have made this much noise when Bush rolled out the bailouts for AIG last summer.

NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO violate the constitutional power of our elected representatives in congress to change tariff rates, import duties and other trade policies as the wills of citizenry changes.

They sure were eager to invade Iraq. Why didn't they secede from the Union earlier just to invade Iraq on their own?

Ryan Costa

Cleveland

The Supreme Court does have the "final say" on what the Constitution means, but the people, through their state legislatures, have the final say in how it might be amended to ensure compliance with the state sovereignty provisions of the Tenth Amendment.

The movement to restrain federal government power is hardly new. It was the primary topic of debate at the founding and produced the Bill of Rights. Asserting those rights in state legislative resolutions is a legitimate step in preparation for an amendment, if that's what's required.

Bill Westmiller

National Treasurer,

Republican Liberty Caucus

 

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