- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2003

Voice of the Faithful are hardly ‘rabble-rousers’

I am shocked and dismayed by the editorial “A few bad shepherds” (Wednesday), particularly the segment quoted below:

“The issue is deeper than sex and abuse of power, as radicals are using the weakened authority of the hierarchy to further their agenda for leftist reform in the church. For example, Voice of the Faithful, a prominent group founded in the wake of the scandal ostensibly to deal with sex abuse, is comprised of leading dissenters on church teaching against abortion, divorce, homosexuality and married or women priests. One of Mr. Keating’s failures was to give too much voice to this faction of rabblerousers.”

This is not mere distortion. These are outright lies. I have been a member of VOTF since its inception early last year. I belong to the steering committee of the Parish Voice in Concord, Mass. We are a group of men and women, young and old. I am 81 myself, and there are a number of fathers and mothers with young children. They give much of their time and energy because they are determined that nothing like what has happened to so many young and vulnerable children will ever happen again. Most of our members serve our parish in other capacities. Some are altar servers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, choir members or religious teachers. What a bunch of rabble-rousers.

One of our just-completed efforts has been the preparation of a booklet on protection of children. Such a booklet is a requirement of the archdiocese. Ours is a good one and has been offered to other parishes to help them comply with archdiocesan wishes. I am on a subcommittee whose task is to develop some guidelines for parish councils. As of now, some councils are elected and some are appointed. Some are effective. Some are ignored by their pastors. Voice of the Faithful wants to increase the participation of the laity in church affairs. This is one way to accomplish this.

With respect to your gross lie that we are made up of leading dissenters on church teaching against abortion, divorce, homosexuality and married or female priests, I have been in attendance at three meetings per month since VOTF was formed. Never was any one of these teachings challenged in any way. Did anyone on your staff ever talk to a single member of VOTF? If anyone in your organization would like to find out about us and our objectives, he might take a look at our Web site: www.votf.org.

I don’t know whether this letter will be printed or even answered. I feel that I will have accomplished something if I cause the writer of the editorial to learn something about his subject before he sits down at his word processor.

GERALD P. O’NEIL

Concord, Mass

Education, not ‘mass entertainment’

I fully agree with Robert Benne’s argument that colleges and universities should de-emphasize the “mass entertainment” called athletic programs and focus on educational activities (“Collegiate sports follies,” Commentary, yesterday).

Sports teams that could not generate enough revenue to justify professional leagues could convert to club teams and participate in the way that Brigham Young University’s soccer team does. As Mr. Benne suggests, the “universities would still be associated with big-time sports,” but “the deception and hypocrisy would be gone.”

Lest anyone misunderstand, I am a big-time fan of university sports, and especially of ACC basketball.

WILLARD L. HOING

Silver Spring

Gun raffles are good fund-raisers

After reading the story “Church shuns gun-raffle donations” (Saturday, Page 1), I could only shake my head in disbelief. Peggy Alexander’s comments and the order from the Archdiocese of Washington to St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Hyattsville not to accept the money from this raffle are so flawed it’s hard to know where to begin. The article states that the archdiocese made its decision “because a few church members are opposed to guns.” Susan Gibbs, communications director for the diocese, is quoted as saying, “Within the parish there was a strong conflict… so to keep peace within the parish, the parish will not be involved.” So, as when a spoiled child screams in the grocery store, the “conflict” is resolved by acquiescing to the demands, in this case, of the minority who threatened to embarrass the archdiocese in public over the issue of guns at the expense of the majority who supported the raffle and the children for whom the raffle was intended. Did this minority find an alternative way to raise money and buy the children new sports uniforms? Following the archdiocese’s logic, I’m willing to bet there are a “few church members” who are opposed to gambling and would like bingo stopped. We all know bingo is tantamount to an endorsement of gambling.

The article says Mrs. Alexander has said her objections “were based on what she believed to be the traditional church doctrine.” There is no church doctrine, traditional or otherwise, that even remotely proscribes a raffle or fund-raiser of this sort by the church. Church tradition has allowed for hunting and self-defense. Mrs. Alexander is disingenuous at best in claiming she left the church because of this gun raffle.

JOHN B. SCHAMEL III

Stafford, Va.

Cutting taxes

I read with interest the Associated Press story “States levy fees to boost revenues” (Nation, Monday). Perhaps the most intriguing part of the story was a quote by Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell, complaining of the lack of popularity for tax increases:

“Nobody ever likes any tax,” Mr. Rendell said. “Any revenue-raising item, you’re going to tick people off.”

While I wholeheartedly agree that “nobody ever likes any tax,” I must take issue with Mr. Rendell’s assertion that taxes are “revenue-raising” items. History has shown that the most effective means for government to increase revenues is to cut — not increase — the tax burden.

Let’s use the Ronald Reagan tax cut of the 1980s as an example. In 1980, the year before the tax cuts, tax revenues were approximately $956 billion. In the decade following those tax cuts, however, annual revenue growth averaged $102 billion per year.In fact, federal revenues increased more than $1 trillion after the tax cuts were implemented.

A recent analysis by the Heritage Foundation further illustrates this point. During the period 1960 to 2002, the top federal individual income tax rate fell significantly, from 91 percent to 38.6 percent. During that same period, however, federal tax revenue per taxpayer skyrocketed 55 percent.

Why do tax cuts increase federal revenue? It’s simple. Confiscatory rates of taxation discourage consumer and business spending and investment. It is that spending and investment that create new jobs. New job creation spurs a larger base of taxpaying citizens, thereby increasing tax revenue.

Mr. Rendell and his fellow spendthrift governors should take a cue from history. Their states are cash-strapped because they have spent too much, not because they tax their citizens too little. Instead of increasing the tax burden on their constituents, they should cut wasteful spending, reform their tax codes and unleash the full potential of their states’ economies.

CURT D. MERCADANTE

Arlington

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