- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Restoring faith and love

In response to your editorial “A few bad shepherds”: We are members of the steering committee of Brooklyn Voice of the Faithful. We find ourselves strongly in accord with your critical views about the resignation of Gov. Frank Keating as chairman of the National Review Board, established in 2002 by the U.S. Catholic Bishops. You call “sad and inexplicable” the fact that “many bishops still act like the answer to priest sex scandals is more covering up.” We agree.

However, we also find it sad and inexplicable that your answer to Voice of the Faithful’s efforts to address this scandal is to smear us with unsupported and slanderous accusations. You say we are made up of “leading dissenters on church teaching” about a number of sexual and/or gender issues. We challenge you to support that spurious claim. You call us a “faction of rabblerousers.”

If this is your usual mode of discourse, we are surprised you object to Mr. Keating’s choice of words. Voice of the Faithful is a nationwide group of centrist Catholic laypeople formed last year in Boston in immediate and direct (not “ostensible”) response to the scandal and Cardinal Bernard Law’s failure to deal adequately with it. Our goals are to support survivors of sexual abuse by priests, to support priests of integrity and to seek change in the authority structure of the church to address the misuse of power that you decry.

Our beliefs have been held by Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn to be in accord with church teaching. If you wish to know our beliefs, consult our Web site: www.votf.org.

We support Catholic moral standards. Among those standards is one of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

ANNE AND ED WILSON

Brooklyn, N.Y.

I am responding to the editorial yesterday about the Roman Catholic Church, “A few bad shepherds.” In the first three paragraphs, The Times provides a fair commentary on the resignation of former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating as chairman of the National Review Board and the ongoing clergy sex-abuse scandal, in general. Unfortunately, it appears that The Times’ true agenda surfaces in paragraph four.

I wonder, how does recognizing the failed leadership in the Catholic Church translate into an attack on Voice of the Faithful? Such terms to describe our Catholic brothers and sisters as “radicals,” “dissenters” and “rabble-rousers” are hardly helpful and seem mean-spirited.

After all we’ve heard about the leadership of the church, I am grateful there are still “revolutionaries in their pews.” The alternative would be empty pews.

We, the church, need to come together to resolve our crisis, restore trust, learn from the past and grow in faith and love.

ANN ZOUVELEKIS

Member

Voice of the Faithful

Northern New Jersey affiliate

Whippany

Half-baked addictions

Of course Dr. Neal Barnard is busy trying to prove a half-baked “addiction” theory about meat and dairy foods (“The seductive quality of food is all in the brain,” Nation, Sunday). What do you expect from a professional animal rights activist?

That’s right. Dr. Barnard’s misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is not a legitimate research group. It’s a front group for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Dr. Barnard is one of three people on the board of the PETA Foundation. PETA has used this foundation to funnel nearly $600,000 of its tax-exempt money to PCRM. The two organizations share offices, staff and financial accounting as well. The animal rights watchdog newspaper Animal People News calls them “a single fundraising unit” and accuses them of attempting to “evade public recognition of their relationship.”

Dr. Barnard and his meat-is-evil message are dangerous. Don’t take my word for it, though: The American Medical Association has called the physicians committee a “pseudo-physicians group” and considers its recommendations “irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans.” The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has been formally censured by the American Medical Association.

Most Americans are too smart to take dietary advice from animal rights zealots, but when radicals put on the sheep’s clothing of the medical profession, it becomes harder and harder to know who’s credible.

DAVID MARTOSKO

Director of research

Center for Consumer Freedom

Washington

Cheap thrills

Just because some young woman in England is senseless enough to dress like a prostitute at a public racing event does not mean you need to inflict the immodest and tasteless image on the rest of us by plastering it on the front page (“Derby days,” yesterday). The Washington Times is a newspaper, not a cheap thrills magazine.

WALTER WEBER

Alexandria

Slavery and reparations

After reading Dinesh D’Souza’s column (“How the West grew rich,” Commentary, Tuesday), I was compelled to write and comment. Please allow me, a descendant of slaves and survivor of Jim Crow, one last word on slavery reparations.

I believe that reparations for black Americans are long overdue, not for slavery, but for the 100 years that followed it. I’m not quite 50 years old, but I still vividly remember the “colored only” and “white only” signs throughout the South: You can’t go here, you can’t go there, you can’t work here, you can’t play there. Those Jim Crow laws truly hindered my parents, along with millions of other colored folks, from reaching the American dream. They were not lazy; they worked hard every day. Yet, they were denied first-class citizenship.

Many white Americans keep telling us just to “get over it.” Do we dare tell Jewish Americans to get over the Holocaust? And why should I “get over” or forget about what my parents and millions of other Southern black Americans went through and endured living as second-class citizens in this great country?

I’ll go to my grave believing that America has yet to pay, not for slavery, but for the 100 years after it.

PAMELA A. HAIRSTON

Washington

I read the article about slavery with interest (How the West Grew Rich). Although I agree with some of the premises, I have reservations on some of the points the writer raised.I agree with some of the premises in Dinesh D’Souza’s “How the West grew rich,” but I have reservations on some of the points the columnist raises. I feel some of Mr. D’Souza’s conclusions stem from a lack of knowledge about the countries cited in his column.

I don’t think Mr. D’Souza has any professional authority to conclude that Ethiopia or Ghana wouldn’t be able to provide a better living place for Jesse Jackson. Apparently, judging from the other premises the writer has about slavery, he doesn’t seem to know much about those countries, much less about choosing them for Mr. Jackson.

Ghana, under its legendary leader the late Kwame Nkrumah, is the birthplace of Pan-Africanism — the first continentally organized attempt to fight against modern-day slavery labeled as “colonialism.”

Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that actually fought back against colonialism by winning a war against a European power in the late 1800s. Besides, Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, who led that famous war against Italy, was the first African head of state ever to declare a nationwide proclamation that outlawed slavery and abolished the practice from the country almost completely.

Yet Mr. D’Souza has the sureness to say, “There is no history of anti-slavery activism outside of Western civilization.” I wonder if this doesn’t fulfill his criteria for anti-slavery activism.

DANIEL BELAYNEH ABEBE

Silver Spring, Md.

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