- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2001

Headline misrepresents Catholicism

I object to the misleading headline on a story in your Jan. 31 edition: "Catholic Church rules deny sick girl First Communion."

The content of the story makes clear that, far from denying the child communion, the church was willing to allow her to receive the Precious Blood (consecrated wine) a common solution for Catholics who are celiacs.

In so doing, the church offers the communicant precisely the same graces and benefits she would receive in the consecrated host. That the parents refused this form of communion and began attending a Methodist church indicates a regrettable lack of understanding of the full significance of Catholic sacramental theology and makes clear that the entire flap was about something other than the child receiving the full spiritual benefits of the Eucharist.

The lack of precision your editorial staff exercised in this case is deplorable, especially since their poor judgment will certainly contribute to already wide-spread misunderstanding and anti-Catholic prejudice.



On Jan. 31, a headline in your paper read, "Catholic Church rules deny sick girl First Communion." Accuracy in headlines is important, especially as some people do not read past them.

Contrary to what is suggested by this headline, the Catholic Church did not deny Jenny Richardson her first Holy Communion. Rather, her parents did, going so far as to have her receive a "symbolic" host rather than what Catholics believe is in reality Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church allows the Holy Eucharist to be received in the form of the host or of the wine, with full understanding that either contains fully the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

While the most common means to receive our Lord is in the form of the host, it is not the only means. As the article states, exceptions have been made for persons who are ill to receive under the form of the wine. In some places, people receive under both.

Your editorial staff should have made sure that the headline accurately described the Catholic faith. As for Jenny's parents, I offer a sincere prayer that they have faith that goes beyond understanding.


Burke, Va.

NASA synthesizing 'cell' is empty victory

The Jan. 30 edition of the Washington Times contains the headline, "NASA synthesizes cells using matter from space." However, from the article it is clear that only the membrane, or cell housing, was synthesized under simulated conditions. The membrane is empty.

An analogy is that some overheated brains associated with NASA, having built a garage, presume that a car is not far behind. Not so. The cell is irreducibly complex.

NASA will never produce a cell. It is the product of design. As to the designer, I leave that open for speculation.


Odenton, Md.

Why is 'model' prison closed to Amnesty International?

In the Jan. 29 article "Prison gets high marks while probe continues," Virginia Department of Corrections Director Ron Angelone called the Wallens Ridge State Prison "a model correction agency."

If the Wallens Ridge facility in big Stone Gap, Va., is actually a "model" super-maximum-security prison, why were researchers from Amnesty International, the world's largest human rights organization, denied a chance to visit inmates there?

Mr. Angelone ignores the abuse charges that were the impetus for a Justice Department investigation of both Virginia super-maximum prisons, Wallens Ridge and southwest Virginia's Red Onion.

In addition, Wallens Ridge is under investigation by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities following the death of two Connecticut inmates there. We have received numerous reports of alleged physical and psychological abuses: inmates shot with rubber bullets, beaten while they are in restraints and attacked with electro-shock guns.

The public has a right to know what goes on behind closed doors. If Mr. Angelone is proud of his institutions and has nothing to hide, he should open the "model" facilities to outside observers.

Mr. Angelone, will you let us in?


Executive Director

Amnesty International USA


Voice of America abandons volatile Uzbekistan

I read with interest your recent coverage of the proposed language cuts at the Voice of America (Inside the Beltway, Jan. 23; "Voiceless America," Editorials, Jan. 31; and "Voice of America adapts to a changing world," Letters, Feb. 2).

According to the Broadcasting Board of Governers, "while many places may still need US International Broadcasting, some need it less than others. Instead of continuing to broadcast to nations where a free media environment now exists, the actions the board proposed will result in significant upgrades in our various services to a number of parts of the world that need it the most."

The board's decision to eliminate the Uzbek language service, however, contradicts its stated purpose. It also contradicts House Resolution 397, which "urges the Voice of America and Radio Liberty to expand broadcasting to Central Asia, as needed, with a focus on assuring that the peoples of the region have access to unbiased news and programs that support respect for human rights and the establishment of democracy and the rule of law."

Also, according to the State Department annual report, "in Uzbekistan, the press operates under such restrictions that there is very limited freedom of speech."

Opposition members and human rights activists in Uzbekistan, as well as exile leaders of banned political parties from Uzbekistan, recently sent an open letter to Voice of America saying that they are deeply troubled by the board's decision and respectfully urge them to consider reversing it. VOA's Uzbek service has been the only venue for otherwise voiceless human rights activists, opposition members and the ordinary people who are subject to oppression in Central Asia.

In a Feb. 1 column in the New York Times titled "Democracy Needs Many Voices," David Hoffman, president of Internews, a U.S.-founded international organization that has worked to support independent media in Central Asia, suggested that the new administration should make press freedom central to U.S. foreign policy.

Noting this relationship between the press and freedom, Secretary of State Colin Powell observed in his confirmation testimony that "[t]he rise of democracy and the power of the information revolution combined to leverage each other."

The Bush administration should support independent broadcasting in the emerging states of the former Soviet Union. With the forces of communism and repression gaining ground in various countries, VOA's Uzbek division still has a critical voice that must be heard.


American Uzbek Community of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.


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