Letters to the Editor - March 14

March 14, 2013

Stakes are high in selection of new pope

To the editor:

As journalists rush for news about papal frontrunners, they allow real issues to be passed over or inaccurately addressed. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the favorite interviewee of American journalists, dismisses history with a sweeping statement, although an inaccurate one, that married priests or female priests would not be discussed because the conclave will not be questioning traditional teachings. The cardinal knows married priests and female priests formed the early Christian church and are part of its tradition. Unfortunately, incomplete statements about traditions are typical and leave Catholics in the dark about their Christian roots.

Cardinal Dolan, chatty and affable, disarms writers and readers alike about real problems and the need for solutions in the church. He mentions the need for cardinals to get to know each other, as if popes historically only came from the College of Cardinals. He says the conclave will be looking for a man of diplomacy, managerial ability, spirituality and good communication skills. He doesn’t bring up a need for a person of justice to deal with sexual abuse scandals and Vatican financial impropriation. Cardinal Dolan doesn’t discuss equality among men and women in the Church, nor a spirituality that appreciates humans as sexual beings.

With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, there is an opportunity for Catholics all over the world to speak up about spiritual leadership and new paradigms of service. Roman Catholics constitute 1.2 billion people worldwide. The choice of a new pope has great potential for good throughout the world. Ecumenical and interfaith dialogues cannot be mere philosophical exercises but can be movements to usher in peace.

To rush through this process of papal selection in order to have a pope by Easter is nonsensical. The stakes are high for a great spiritual renewal among the world’s population. A new spiritual leader will value tradition as a guideline but not deny part of its history to justify later teachings. Tradition has value when it is seen in the context of its birth. Tradition cannot be allowed to smother new ideas about ministry and service in a world of nearly 6 billion people. 

Virginia Lynch Graf
Charles Town

Powell’s bashing of Republicans typical of liberals

To the editor:

On March 8, The Herald-Mail published another Republican-bashing column by Allan Powell.

Powell wrote about the conservative political action committee meeting that will take place in Washington, D.C., next week. Powell lists the names of those who will attend and speak at this meeting, and sums them up by writing, “as I survey this list of political luminaries, I am struck by the number of losers ... this list is somewhat like attending a party with Elizabeth Taylor ... and all of her former husbands ... their topic will be how to have a successful marriage.”

Powell ignores the fact that all those he names are extremely successful human beings, both in their careers and in their personal lives. Also, please note that everyone he names is not only married, but has been for long periods of time to the same spouse, as is quite often the case in the conservative community.

After this opening, Powell goes on to give us a fictional account of what each of the speakers will be saying at this meeting, placing unspoken words in their mouths and portraying them all as ignorant buffoons. Powell’s characterization of the prominent Republicans is not only uninformed, it is actually quite arrogant on his part. What Powell seems to be saying here is that he hates Republicans.  What Powell does not seem to understand is that America was not built by angry people, and unless and until we all lose our hate, we will continue to be a divided nation. And as the great Republican President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Powell is a classic example of progressive liberal tactics. Lacking real ideas of their own, progressive liberals constantly engage in the politics of personal attack and destruction. Powell is clearly a well-educated man, and I would expect him to be less divisive and put more thought and less emotion into his writing.

Rodney Pearson Sr.

Stronger driving laws needed for Maryland teens

To the editor:

According to a report released Feb. 26 by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, fatal car crashes involving 16- and 17-year-olds in Maryland were higher during the first six months of 2012 than during the first six months of 2011. This is disconcerting. Crashes already are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. These new findings underscore the need to better protect our youngest, most vulnerable drivers.

Maryland lawmakers can lead these efforts by strengthening our state’s teen driving laws. Currently, teen drivers can carry passengers younger than 18 after the first five months of licensure, and teen drivers are permitted to drive unsupervised until midnight. Both laws must change. Teen passengers, including siblings, can increase teen drivers’ crash risk by as much as 307 percent, and driving at night is particularly dangerous for teens. Maryland was one of 25 states that saw an increase in fatal crashes, according to GHSA. Seventeen states, all with stronger teen driving laws than Maryland, experienced a decrease. Strengthening our laws could help us become the 18th state to drive down fatalities.

I lead the Maryland Teen Safe Driving Coalition, an initiative of The Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council. I encourage teens, parents, traffic safety professionals and others passionate about this issue to join us and help educate the public about the importance of strong teen driving laws. By working together, we can reduce these fatalities in 2013 and help to ensure our roads are safer for all motorists.

Cathy Gillen
Hanover, Md.

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