- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2007

The schism

In the article “Archbishop of Canterbury fears schism on gay clergy” (Page 1, Monday) Paul Majendie of Reuters news agency states that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams “is battling to placate factions in a church on the brink of schism” and that the Anglican federation has “struggled since 2003 to hold together its liberal minority and conservative majority.”

However, a conference held in 1978 resulted in the Affirmation of St. Louis, which established the Anglican Catholic Church, neither part of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) nor of the Anglican Communion but rather a separate, distinct church. This occurred because of the ordination of women to the priesthood, by which the ECUSA abandoned the apostolic succession of clergy.

Following this, of course, has been the flirtation with homosexuality, which has only compounded the church’s state of apostasy. It didn’t start in 2003, however. The schism occurred in 1978, nearly 30 years ago.

MARK A.H. SMITH JR.

Linden, Va.

Too little, too late

Three recent letters have attempted to portray Pope Pius XII as a savior of Jews during the Holocaust, a time when 6 million Jews were being murdered in predominantly Catholic nations (“Disinformation about Pope Pius XII,” Sunday, and two letters under the headline “Don’t blame the pope,” Monday). Unfortunately, the actions of the pope were too little and too late for 70 percent of European Jews, as he failed to excommunicate the Catholic leaders of the Third Reich and did not issue any statements that specifically condemned the murder of Jews until it was obvious to the Vatican in 1944 that Germany had lost the war.

Certainly the original contacts Pope Pius XII had in his role as a cardinal in Germany should have been helpful, but instead of developing an empathy for the plight of the Jews in that nation, leading up to the time of the Holocaust, his efforts were devoted to appeasing Hitler and the Third Reich.

Jews who survived the Holocaust because of individual acts of courage by members of all religions should be grateful, but, on balance, Pope Pius XII was not one who exhibited courage and understanding during the Holocaust.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

Discussing stem cells

“Some may be interpreting my research as a substitute for the need to pursue other forms of regenerative medicine therapies, such as those involving embryonic stem cells. I disagree with that assertion,” wrote Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University. Mr. Atala and other researchers reported Sunday that the stem cells they drew from amniotic fluid donated by pregnant women hold much the “same promise” as embryonic stem cells. (“Amniotic stem-cell study no ‘substitute,’ ” Nation, Wednesday).

However, the Catholic News Service (CNS) reported on Jan. 9, that Dr. Paolo De Coppi, the lead author of the paper, and his colleague, Anthony Atala, “demonstrated that stem cells derived from amniotic fluid could be used to generate many different types of body tissues, which could be used in the treatment of diseases. For the purposes of medical research, their paper argued, the stem cells taken from amniotic fluid show more promise than those obtained from human embryos.”

The CNS report continued, “Paolo De Coppi told the Italian ANSA news agency that a groundbreaking paper published this week in Nature Biotechnology had previously been rejected by four different journals. ‘It took seven years to get our paper published,’ he said … He concluded that his paper was met by ‘a resistance to the idea of finding an alternative to embryonic stem cells,’ because many leading researchers — particularly in the U.S. — are so heavily invested in embryo research.”

Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, sponsor of embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) funding, said, “It’s about hope, about giving hope to people who have Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, kids with juvenile diabetes. It’s about hope.”

Yes, “hope” is all the proponents of ESCR funding have. They hope researchers will someday overcome the rejection problem and tumor-formation problem caused by introducing stem cells from one human being (embryo) into another. ESCR proponents hope that someday someone will be treated and cured by embryonic stem cells.

The hopes of ESCR proponents already are the reality for adult stem cells. There are no rejection and tumor problems, and the lives of thousands of people have been saved and improved with stem-cell treatments from the same person.

It is abundantly clear, given Dr. De Coppi’s experience, that people are not the priority for Mr. Harkin and the rest of the ESCR proponents.

From a patient’s perspective, research on amniotic stem cells and the lifesaving stem cells found in the placenta, umbilical cord blood and many other places in the human body should be funded, but embryonic stem-cell research should not.

THARPA ROBERTS

Silver Spring

Bush’s Iraq strategy

Does President Bush honestly think sending 21,000 more U.S. soldiers to Iraq will make a difference (“Bush vows surge to fix ‘mistake,’ ” Page 1, yesterday)? Or is he hoping the new Democratic Congress will stop him so he can say, “I would have won the war if not for them”?

Maybe he is doing it because he can’t admit his war has failed, can’t stay the course and doesn’t know what else to do.

Everyone seems to be saying that Iraq will be Mr. Bush’s legacy, but that’s wrong. Iraq will be part of his legacy, but the rest of it will play out in the years and decades after he leaves office. When he invaded Iraq, he didn’t free the Iraqi people, as he likes to claim. He freed a thousand years of ethnic, religious and tribal demons. This will haunt America for the rest of our lives.

Through his actions and policies, Mr. Bush has given Osama bin Laden exactly what he wanted: a perfect jihad building and recruiting tool that is helping mobilize tens of thousands of anti-American warriors. He has unleashed a cycle of violence that will not stop soon. It will get much worse before it gets better.

WILLIAM STOSINE

Iowa City, Iowa

The president’s plan for a troop surge in Iraq of 21,000 is the last-ditch action of a desperate man, one who will try anything as he seeks late in the game to snatch some measure of victory from the jaws of consistent failure.

Though it is gratifying to note that a president who rarely admits to a mistake has acknowledged errors in his Iraq war strategy, most of the American people know that it is too late to reverse course successfully, that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated so badly and that civil war rages so intractably that it is impossible to bring light to many of the Iraqi people who prefer darkness, war and the perpetuation of age-old ethnic hatred.

It is too easy for a president who has no purely personal stake in the war to put on the line the lives of some of our finest young people, and to do so is to go against the grain of the American people, who in the November elections spoke with one voice in expressing our displeasure with the president, the administration and its policies, particularly those that have brought death and destruction to our valiant soldiers and many Iraqi citizens and that have brought about the diminished status of our nation in the eyes of the world.

If the new strategy in Iraq works, it will be a first, and a wild gamble will have paid off. With so much on the line, though, it is a gamble not worth taking and one the American people do not support. What difference does our vote make if those who are elected, particularly those who are lame ducks, can expectorate in our faces with no real consequences?

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

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