- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Equal treatment for Poles

Kudos to Arnold Beichman for his Feb. 21 Commentary column, “Bias Against Poland.” In my family’s experience, our attempt to have a beloved Polish relative come for a two-week visit proved a humiliating obstacle course that ended in failure. Americans of other ethnicities are free to have their relatives visit, and Poles should have that freedom as well. Congress needs to treat Poland ” a loyal ally ” as it does other European nations and end the visa requirement. The president should be pushing to change this unjust situation.

NATALIE PAWELSKI

Atlanta

Pointing out visa reforms

I would like to respond to inaccuracies contained in the Feb. 23 Op-Ed column by Joel Mowbray, “An upperhand to terrorists.”

Since November 2002, when Maura Harty became assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, the Department of State has implemented the most comprehensive reform of the visa process in its history. This included a top-to-bottom review of visa procedures and a virtual revolution in how visa applicants are vetted. The State Department joined with other federal agencies to increase exponentially the amount of intelligence and criminal information on visa applicants available to consular officers all over the world.

The department also pioneered the use of cutting-edge technologies to enhance border security. For example, the department is the federal government’s highest-volume user of facial recognition technology, which plays an important role in combating fraud by identifying people applying with multiple identities. Similarly, in little more than one year, and well before the deadline mandated by Congress, the department developed and deployed worldwide new biometric visa software to collect electronically scanned fingerprints from visa applicants. Our biovisa program is a critical component of the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program and ensures that a person entering the United States is the same as the person to whom we issued a visa.

At the same time, the department has taken measures to strengthen management controls to combat possible fraud and malfeasance and instituted standard operating procedures to help ensure that posts around the world are implementing policies consistently and properly. Consular training has been expanded significantly and now includes the latest information on interviewing techniques and counterterrorism issues developed in cooperation with the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

The list of improvements to visa processing implemented by the State Department is nine pages long. Tomorrow, it will be longer, a reflection of our ongoing commitment to forging as strong a shield as possible against external security threats to the United States.

With respect to Saudi Arabian visa applicants, no one understands the dangers of international terrorism better than the staff at our Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where five foreign national employees lost their lives during a terrorist attack Dec. 6. We review all Saudi applications rigorously under the more stringent procedures implemented in the wake of September 11.

Like all other visa applicants worldwide, Saudi applicants are checked against the terrorist watch lists maintained by the U.S. government and, in fact, are subject to additional security procedures implemented after September 11. Further, visa security officers from the Department of Homeland Security have been posted in Riyadh and Jeddah since October 2003 to conduct mandatory reviews of all visas issued to Saudis.

On one aspect of border security we are in agreement with Mr. Mowbray: The visa application and screening process is an integral element of our nation’s defense against terrorism, transnational criminals and others who would do us harm. The American people deserve a consular corps that has the information, training and resources to provide as vigilant a defense as possible. Contrary to Mr. Mowbray’s inaccurate claims, our consular officers — serving at 211 visa-adjudicating posts overseas — are better trained, better equipped and more likely to prevent abuse and fraud in our visa system. That has been Maura Harty’s goal for the past two years, and it remains the goal of the Department of State under Secretary Condoleezza Rice’s leadership.

RICHARD A. BOUCHER

Assistant secretary of state

for public affairs

Washington

Staying from Episcopal teachings

Referencing two recent comprehensive articles, “Anglican schism feared over gays” (Page 1, Thursday), by Al Webb, and Julia Duin’s “Flocks in U.S., Canada face split” (Page 1, Friday), and other articles concerning the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA) that appear in your pages from time to time: A significant event already has occurred that the church routinely fails to recognize (and of which little of the public is aware).

That event was a 1977 conference in St. Louis that resulted in the Affirmation of St. Louis and a schism within the ECUSA, with the spawning of other churches that maintain the disciplines of historic Anglicanism remaining to this day — stronger than ever.

This conference and its affirmation resulted from decisions in the ECUSA to destroy the historic Book of Common Prayer (and its guidance), the departure of the clergy from the traditional apostolic succession, diminished importance of confirmation and the opening of the Eucharist to those unprepared to receive it.

Thousands of worshippers and hundreds of clergy “resigned” from the Episcopal Church. Events in that church since have proved that they took the correct path.

Since then, the ECUSA has seen fit to re-interpret Scripture to suit its needs and desires, particularly in the realms of marriage, divorce and human sexuality. It has changed or ignored ancient doctrine and canons (and just plain good sense) to meet societal and political goals.

That is not the purpose of a church. This is apostasy. Now, ECUSA must pay the price — by being removed from the Anglican Communion.

DR. MARK A. H. SMITH JR.

Chairman, Committee on Growth

Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States

Anglican Catholic Church

Linden, Va.

Regarding Robert Barr’s article “Archbishop: Anglicans Could Face Division” (Web site, Friday): It is disturbing to read of the most recent division within the Anglican communion over homosexuality.

More and more, we are living in a society that rejects immutable principles. Reason dictates, however, that there must be objective standards for discerning the common good. Otherwise, democratic governments can authorize anything that any group asks for, as long as the group phrases the request in the language of “rights,” Ultimately, you end up with anarchy.

Already, we have seen the nihilistic yet impeccably democratic result of such contemporary legislation involving life itself. I am thinking here of legislation — such as that found in Canada and the Netherlands — that legalizes homosexuality, same-sex “marriage,” abortion, euthanasia and genetic manipulation.

No one denies universal moral principles such as those pertaining to life, liberty and property. In the concrete, however, these positions are constantly violated and eroded by exceptions that negate the principle. These destructive exceptions, which consume human dignity, are always justified as a being aimed toward a good end or purpose. They justify what is not able to be justified.

In his recent book “Memory and Identity,” Pope John Paul II accurately refers to same-sex “marriages” as “part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.”

Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and evil because they are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.

I commend John Paul for having the courage to look the truth in the eye and call things by their proper name without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception, as society is wont to do. May the Anglican Church of Canada and the U.S. Episcopal Church take heed.

PAUL KOKOSKI

Hamilton, Ontario


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