Letters

Posted: July 04, 1999

Just how Catholic should Catholic colleges be? I read with both interest and dismay James O'Neill's article regarding the Pope's guidelines for Catholic colleges and universities (Inquirer, June 27). A requirement that those teaching theology receive approval from the local bishop suppresses academic freedom and would drive theologians with divergent and thought-provoking points of view to secular institutions. In reality, Catholic universities are the very places where these discussions belong.

As disturbing was the requirement that the majority of faculty members be Catholic. This is restrictive, unrealistic and abjectly unfair to prospective students. When an institution of higher learning accepts tuition from a student, it is also accepting an obligation to provide the best education it can. This entails obtaining the best faculty members it can obtain regardless of their religious affiliation.

By my parents and immigrant grandparents, I was inculcated with the belief that education was the key to success in this life. From them I also received a deep religious faith. They sent me to St. Joseph's University to receive an excellent education, with a spiritual component. While there, under the tutelage of the Jesuits, I learned that faith must be able to withstand challenges. A faith that cannot be questioned is of no value.

For Catholic universities to remain places where students can grow both intellectually and spiritually, the Catholic Church must not return to the mind-numbing, blind faith, " 'cause I said so," excuse for education from which they (and we) have spent the last 50 years retreating.

Dr. Robert A. Leonetti

Tabernacle

As a committed Catholic lay person with grandchildren on the threshold of choosing a college, I feel that the meeting that took place last week about the Catholicity of our colleges is very timely (Inquirer, June 27).

I believe that the office of the president of a Catholic college should be committed to correct Catholic teaching and doctrine. I also believe that a teacher of theology should be committed to teaching Catholic doctrine as expressed in the magisterium of the church. I would like to know that teachers of other subjects believe in the same value system as expressed in the mission statement of the particular college.

If this is not the case in a Catholic institution, then why bother to have Catholic colleges?

Catholics, as other faiths and beliefs, are proud of their heritage and traditions. In a Catholic college, I would expect that Catholic heritage is passed on in a true and correct manner.

Linda Ireland

Philadelphia

Read in the car It was disheartening to read the article, "The journey's made easier with a TV" (Inquirer, June 27). A long trip in the car with children can be challenging, to say the least. But to transform what could be an opportunity to share family time into another mind-numbing activity is a waste.

Our family just returned from a nine-month adventure abroad. We spent many eight-hour days in the car with three children, ages 5, 9, and 11. While I drove, my husband read aloud to the children. It certainly was not as easy as hooking up a TV, and although not every book captured each child, we found we could find something for each taste. (The Adventures of Pooh and Ralph Moody's Little Britches series pleased everyone every time.) Eventually, the children began to look forward to the car rides for the prolonged reading time.

Rather than staring dumbly at a welter of images flashing across a television screen, they took an active part in creating images, and they shared the stories with us and with each other. It clearly improved their listening skills and their concentration.

I know this won't work with all families all the time. But if from infancy we encourage our children to look to television instead of their own imaginations, we do them a great disservice. And those precious few hours together as a family will be squandered.

Kate M. Wilcox

Balkan multiculturalism What Barbara Demick writes ("Balkan ethnic groups in retreat," June 20) is interesting, but what she does not include is absolutely essential if one is to make any sense of the tragedy in the Balkans.

First, it is not enough to relate how multiculturalism flourished for centuries in the Balkans under Ottoman rule and then under Tito's Communist dictatorship after the Second World War without making clear that only a strong centralized political leadership made this possible. The imperial state permitted minorities to practice religious, cultural and economic autonomy, but only as long as they accepted political subordination to the dominant ethnic group.

Second, Demick errs when she says that Serbs are the ones most resistant to multiculturalism: Croatian nationalism is far more racist, intolerant and impelled by a desire for a "pure" state, as Croatia's embrace of Nazi Germany (1941 to 1945) suggested. Muslims have no future in a Croat state.

Finally, one must differentiate between the Muslims of Kosovo and Bosnia. Demick notes that in Kosovo, Serbs and Albanians lived "on parallel tracks," which rarely crossed. The two peoples were separated by language, culture, historical memory - not just by religion.

By contrast, the "Muslims" of Bosnia are ethnically Serbs or Croats; they converted during the Ottoman period, but in all other ways were virtually indistinguishable from the Orthodox Serbs and Roman Catholic Croats. As long as there was one Greater Yugoslavia, under a strong central rule, multiculturalism could flourish. Following the disintegration of Tito's federal republic, ethnic nationalism has taken hold. Only the integration of all the peoples of the area into a Greater European Union could foster ethnic tolerance. Until such a time comes, Washington's pursuit of multiculturalism in the region will prove as ephemeral as a mirage.

Alvin Z. Rubinstein

Bryn Mawr

Inappropriate photos The Arts and Entertainment section has hit an all time low. The picture of the male with the book on his groin does not belong in a family newspaper (Inquirer, June 27). Similarly, the movie ads showing a man and a boy urinating on a wall are perverse.

Where will you draw the line in the sand and say no more? Is this what your readership wants? What's next? Do you really think this is "art and entertainment," and if so, for what small portion of what degraded society?

If this is what "free speech" is all about, then the price is perversion and immorality.It is time to start drawing some boundaries as to what is publicly acceptable and morally right. This stuff is wrong!

Joe Borek

Langhorne

The seventh commandment If the Ten Commandments are to be posted in the elementary schools, who is going to explain, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" to the first graders, and how will they do it?

Sherman Siegel

King of Prussia

Lesson for weathercasters I really look forward to seeing The Inquirer front pages from the past you have been publishing every Sunday.

Perhaps the TV weather guys and gals could learn a lesson in succinctness by looking at The Weather column on last week's front page from May 7, 1937 (Inquirer, June 27). This simple forecast tells me all I need to know as to what to wear, whether to take an umbrella, or attend a Phillies game. It took me less than 30 seconds to read it.

Why do I have to hear about highs, lows, fronts and "doppler-babble" before they get to the day's forecast? If I want more, I'll tune in to the Weather Channel, go online, or simply wait until the day dawns and be surprised.

It amuses me how often TV news saves its weather forecasts for the last five minutes of the show - as if I can't turn my radio on and get it just about instantly.

For hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, yes, tell me more and update me continuously.

For daily weather, just tell me "rainy or sunny, cold or hot." That'll do.

Mary L. Buechele

Voorhees

Empty toll booths A few days after I read about the enormous planned toll increase on the DRPA bridges (Inquirer, June 30), I find myself sitting in a 10-minute delay as I approach the tollbooths on the Ben Franklin Bridge. The reason? There are not enough booths open to handle the traffic volume. This extremely frustrating experience occurs frequently.

I ask the DRPA to be sure to assign adequate tollbooth staff in the future. This should be easy to do with the soon-to-be-experienced torrent of new cash. This cash, of course, comes from my wallet and those of many other working people who have no choice but to pay the outrageously high toll increase this monopolistic agency has forced upon us.

Neil Goldman

Baltimore's exodus Gov. Ridge and Mayor Rendell believe that spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars on new stadiums for professional sports team will have a positive impact on the quality of life and the economy of Philadelphia. We hear how nice the new stadiums are in Baltimore and what a positive impact these stadiums have had there.

Has the governor or mayor looked at the latest census reports? Philadelphia lost 9 percent of its population since 1990. Baltimore and Washington were two of the four cities to lose a larger percentage of their population over the same period.

If stadiums are the answer, why are people leaving Baltimore? People are leaving Philadelphia due to high taxes, lack of jobs, poor public schools and concerns for safety. Wouldn't it be better to spend these hundreds of millions in ways that will keep people in Philadelphia?

For seven years, "America's mayor" walked away from the hard issues of education and job development. The next mayor must address these issues. Stadiums will not save Philadelphia, quality public education, lower taxes, and safer streets will. James V. Wilkinson Jr.

Bensalem

jvwjr@mail.med.upenn.edu

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