Visit by pope welcomed by Muslims
The Muslim community in Baltimore welcomes Pope John Paul II. This visit carries with it great hope for more cooperation among the divine religions. Islam has endorsed such cooperation since the message of Jesus -- love, peace, and brotherhood among all the creatures of Almighty Allah, our Lord. It is part of the global message of Islam.
It is more important than ever before, in today's world of the Muslims as well as the Christians, to take bigger and quicker steps against the ills of the world. Locally, to stand against the rise of immorality, drug use and alcoholism, which are the causes of more and more crimes threatening the safety of the family and the society. And globally, to help prevent wars among the nations in order that we may be the true successors and followers of Jesus and Mohammed, who called always for love, tolerance and peace; not malice, hatred or killing of innocent people, all of whom belong to the one family of Adam and Eve.
We hope that through this visit the doors of understanding between Muslims and Christians who are living in America, side by side, will be opened wider. . . .
Very few of our Christian brothers and sisters know that Jesus is mentioned numerous times in our holy book, the Koran. For 1,400 years, it as shown Muslims examples from the life of Jesus, his devotion, his teachings and his family -- specifically his mother, Mary, after whom a long Sura, or chapter, in the Koran is named -- to teach them how to co-exist with the followers of Jesus, who are a branch of the tree of Abraham.
Because of this and more, we welcome Pope John Paul II and we
wish him a happy stay in Baltimore.
Imam M. Bashar Arafat
RF The writer is chairman of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland.
Did Simpson jurors really try their best?
If the decision of the jury in the O.J. Simpson trial was based on the evidence presented, then it was a fair and just decision. We may not agree, but we must wholeheartedly support the process that rendered the conclusion of innocence. It was designed to oblige the accusers to prove for certain the guilt of the accused. If none of the 12 jurors felt the evidence compelling enough for a guilty vote, we can live with that. All we ask is their best effort.
If the outcome of the case was determined by other factors, then the jury itself is guilty of dereliction of the sacred duty that the people of their state entrusted in them. The task of determining guilt or innocence is a great responsibility and holds great power. The abuse of such power is criminal. It is no better to let a guilty man go free than to convict one who is innocent. If this jury neglected to weigh the facts, then it betrayed us all.
In addition, a jury sequestered for any length of time cannot be considered normal. The panelists become hostages. The stress of prolonged separation from loved ones and familiar routine must certainly take its toll. At some point, the cost of sequestration outweighs the benefits.
A major factor in the separation of the jury is the media. The press has the role of covering the story, but more and more, the coverage is becoming the story. It is beginning to have an effect on the outcome. We do not need the live coverage, nightly updates and endless detail. The "circus" and the "frenzy" have gone too far.
Duncan A. Douglas
Seniors' homes better than image
As a long-time Catonsville resident who lives near a senior citizens' group home, I was distressed to read in the Oct. 2 Sun that there is so much controversy over this type of establishment. Residents of these homes are not hardened criminals trying to invade someone's privacy or bring harm. They are people who, after a lifetime of service to others, now require some daily living assistance.
Several years ago when the West Catonsville Community Association expressed concern about the proposed Lifespring Senior Housing, I would not take part in opposing the home because I believed most fears were unfounded and felt very strongly about the need for such a place.
Since then, Lifespring has come to Pleasant Villa Avenue and there is no evidence that the neighborhood has suffered from it. There has definitely not been an exodus of young people moving away from their singles dwellings. The homes continue to be well-kept, children still play outdoors, and the feared additional traffic is probably no more than if the house were occupied by a large family.
Joyce E. Green
Surprise! Naughty bits are in those films
In a Sept. 23 column, "Naughty bits and busybodies," Patrick Ercolano ridicules a claim made by the American Life League concerning shadowy sexual messages in Disney animated films. also found the claims hard to believe, until I watched the segments in my copies of "The Lion King" and "Aladdin." To my surprise, both items mentioned were present. Whether they were sanctioned by Disney or the result of animators and sound technicians run amok, only Disney can tell us.
Mr. Ercolano also indicated the "Christian right" has attempted to have books removed from libraries. However, two of these titles, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and the Bible, have been attacked by the political left.
One of the organizations that Mr. Ercolano finds worthy of respect is the American Library Association (ALA). This organization supports the rights of any child to borrow any materials from our libraries. The ALA supports lending R-rated videotapes to children. In Wellesley, Mass., the ALA defends the right of the library to lend Playboy magazine to a 9-year-old boy. Is this Mr. Ercolano's definition of a credible organization?
Debra McKenna Glassman
It's what Deutch does, not what he says
In his letter to the editor of Sept. 28, John Deutch, director of Central Intelligence, takes me to task for my Opinion * Commentary article of Aug. 21, in which, in his words, I "attempt to perpetuate the popular fiction that this Central Intelligence Agency pursues its own secret policy objectives."
Mr. Deutch then tells us that no fewer than six congressional committees monitor the CIA.
The next day, Mr. Deutch publicly announced the dismissal or reprimand of 10 current and former CIA officials accused of mishandling information on slayings in Guatemala and failing to report abuses to Congress. In his words, the agency failed "to keep Congress fully and currently informed as required by law."
This was precisely my point, even to the particular affairs in Guatemala.
I am most gratified by Mr. Deutch's attempt to adhere to the law, and can only hope that this represents a new trend for the agency under his leadership.
Pulling the plug on gangsta rap
Recent news that Warner Records has pulled its backing of gangsta rap material is promising.
This event is proof that public sentiment can override corporate profit. Certainly there will be other companies that will take over where Warner left off. However, each time a brick is pulled, the closer the wall is to crumbling.
AMany will see this divorce as further restraint on the freedom of speech. Many more of us know that there is no protection for obscenity.
Chronic fatigue unexplained
The study from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine linking chronic fatigue syndrome with low blood pressure may offer helpful information about the illness.
However, The Sun's Sept. 27 article is rather erroneously subtitled in stating that low blood pressure "explains" chronic fatigue syndrome.
It is also doubtful that low blood pressure "triggers" chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disease affecting the immune system. More likely, low blood pressure is often correlated with CFS.
I am a psychologist in Northern Baltimore County who has treated CFS patients for the past 10 years and also has the illness.
I have CFS patients who meet the Center for Disease Control criteria for CFS but do not have low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure may not always be linked to CFS and raising blood pressure might not necessarily help CFS because there could be various strains of CFS, some of which do not have low blood pressure or may not respond positively to raising blood pressure.
Any number of variables can trigger CFS, including environmental, genetic or stress factors.
When individuals with CFS are unable to work or drive, increase their blood pressure and they then are able to accomplish these tasks.
This does not definitely mean that elevating blood pressure cures CFS; the individual may be beyond that which triggered their CFS such as an allergic reaction to a toxin, and the elevated blood pressure occurred at a time when the body's imbalanced immune system could be balanced.
The Johns Hopkins study is important because more research is needed about the causes and cures of CFS.
The study is not simple. As Hopkins researches admit, "a larger study is necessary" and "the theory has not been confirmed."
I recommend their current study be taken with a cautious optimism.
Questioning papal infallibility
The Sun has dusted off Joseph Gallagher ("Holy Father, holy truth," the Oct. 1 Sun), who has aimed his pea-shooter at Pope John Paul II.
The pope has eternally disappointed Father Gallagher and his ilk by not approving contraception. Father Gallagher has a theory of church government that is Protestant (or at best Orthodox) rather than Catholic, because he will not accept the pope as the vicar of Christ, the last earthly court of appeal in matters of discipline and doctrine.
Father Gallagher denounces the papal condemnation of contraception as wicked because it might mean that somewhere, somehow, someone is not having the maximum number of orgasms. Christian Europe is not reproducing itself. Overpopulation is not the problem in the Catholic countries that might heed the pope's voice; demographic collapse is, with its threat to retirement systems and social stability.
Father Gallagher claims the pope is obsessed with sexuality, but Father Gallagher has slept through all the attacks on human life in the drives for abortion and euthanasia and capital punishment. Or is the pope obsessive in opposing the culture that sees death as the answer to all problems? Nor does Father Gallagher mention the pope's role in the greatest historical event of the 20th century -- the downfall of European communism, with almost no bloodshed.
With such priests as Father Gallagher, the laity never got to hear the papal doctrine on the right use of sexuality. As Augustine said, "How shall they believe unless it is preached, and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Humane Vitae was denounced the moment it became public, before the denouncers even had a chance to read it, much less before it could be preached to the laity. Because of priests like Father Gallagher, it has never been preached in Baltimore, and the damage they have done may never be repaired.
Thank you, Rev. Joseph Gallagher, for your article. It was so refreshing to see the rest of the story in writing.
With all the hype surrounding the pope's visit, this reality check was greatly needed and long overdue. As difficult and threatening to the organized Catholic Church as it might be, we need to be reminded of our church's history, complete with its tragic mistakes. We need to learn from those mistakes and correct them, not ignore them.
It needs to be said (and said again until it is really heard) that Pope Paul VI's 1968 anti-contraception encyclical, Humane Vitae, went "against the overwhelming majority of his own 72-member birth control commission." As Father Gallagher says, "Thank heavens it is widely disregarded."
Twenty-five years ago, after the birth of our two children, my husband and I sought the advice of our doctor, not our priest, about birth control. Staunch Catholics, we still hadn't any hesitation to use contraceptives, since we knew no clergy or church was going to help us support and raise our children. We knew that the responsibility and the decision was ours.
Along with Father Gallagher, I was distressed when the pope lectured against birth control to the poor. Also distressing to me, in addition, was the apparent disregard for the monetary cost of the pope's visits to these peoples. But there's more here than just the contraception issue. Kudos to Father Gallagher for his statements regarding papal infallibility. We need to hear this more. Clearly the church has not educated its members sufficiently on this doctrine. When relating several times to others that papal infallibility was only first declared in 1870, I have always witnessed surprise. The notion that the pope is infallible in everything he says and does needs to be dispelled.
Thank you, Father Gallagher, for telling it like it is: "Papal loyalty 00 makes terrible demands." How many times has the politics of our church injured those whom it has pledged to serve? Now, it is not unreasonable to acknowledge that this worldwide church needs a degree of organization, but what would Jesus say about all this? Those like Father Gallagher, who are not afraid to seek and speak the truth, refresh and renew us and attempt to correct our aim toward the mark of Jesus.
Mary Jane LeVasseur