The Baltimore Sun

Hiring practices allow new chances

Sunday's column by Dan Rodricks unfairly criticizes the Archdiocese of Baltimore's actions and responses on the termination of a parish employee with a criminal record ("Church's 'scandal' is others' kindness," Nov. 18).

Mr. Rodricks paints a picture of inconsistent responses by the archdiocese to media questions about this employee.

But he fails to mention that he named the employee in question when asking about his offenses. Because of privacy concerns, the church, like other employers, generally does not disclose such information about specific employees.

Other public comments made by the church on the matter only mentioned "an employee" and, therefore, could be more specific about the circumstances of his dismissal.

And, contrary to what Mr. Rodricks implied, there is no flexibility in the implementation of archdiocesan screening policies. There is, however, flexibility about whether an employee with a criminal past is eligible for employment in the archdiocese. Each such decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

Mr. Rodricks also failed to include relevant information that indicates the church's desire and practice to give offenders a second chance.

In fact, nearly 200 women and men - most, if not all, of whom have criminal records - have been placed in jobs by Catholic Charities in the past five years, including more than 20 people hired by the church.

Sean Caine


The writer is director of communications for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Legalistic dismissal dishonors church

Many thanks to Dan Rodricks for his column, "Church's 'scandal' is others' kindness" (Nov. 18), in which he took an in-depth look at the circumstances involved in the archbishop's action against the Rev. Ray Martin.

Between these two main characters - Father Martin and the archbishop - is there any doubt which one most closely represents the spirit of Jesus and which one represents that of a legalistic Pharisee?

Fred Everhart


Abuse scandal still corrodes confidence

On the matter of the firing of the Rev. Ray Martin for violations of canon law, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien has proved himself to be a hard-line leader ("O'Brien urges priest back to fold," Nov. 15).

Unfortunately, the lack of just such a hard-line response by past and present church leaders in charge of pedophile priests taints the moral authority of the church as a whole.

The sex abuse itself, followed by the church's early attempts to discredit victims and protect abusive priests, has shaken the foundations of the church.

The shock waves continue to reverberate today as the church continues to lobby to maintain the statute of limitations for damage suits over such abuse.

In dealing with such issues, I suggest that Catholics return to a basic precept popular with so many of our Protestant brethren: Let's ask the question, "What would Jesus do?" rather than "What would the church hierarchy have me do to protect its assets?"

Sue Keller


Did gender affect archbishop's ruling?

I wonder if Archbishop Edwin O'Brien would have sacked the Rev. Ray Martin if the Episcopal priest he allowed to read the Gospel at a Catholic funeral service had been a man ("O'Brien urges priest back to fold," Nov. 15)?

Braxton D. Mitchell


Archbishop imposes a new cross to bear

As a friend of the Rev. Ray Martin, I understand his pastoral sensitivity, which is readily apparent in his actions both toward the fired maintenance man and at the funeral in question ("O'Brien urges priest back to fold," Nov. 15).

And as a theologian, I understand canon law and the distortions of faith and ritual it attempts to prevent.

However, as a Catholic Christian, I cannot help but be reminded of Jesus' own violation of religious law in his day - for instance, he healed on the Sabbath, something that required pastoral sensitivity and a dedication to the greater good.

The current catchphrase "What would Jesus do?" has been answered by Father Martin through his own actions.

But now, like Jesus, it seems that Father Martin must carry the cross imposed by authorities who have greater respect for the letter than the spirit of the law.

Kelle Lynch-Baldwin


The writer is a former youth minister for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

How can lawmakers defend Bromwell?

In Matthew Dolan's article "Bromwell sentenced to 7 years" (Nov. 17) he quotes Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., who says, "All of us have to be careful for what we get and how we get it, because eyes are always upon us, and the boomerang comes back and hits us if we are not very careful."

But it seems to me that if our lawmakers acted honestly and truthfully, they would not have to worry about being so careful.

What ever happened to the idea of always doing the right thing just because it is the right thing to do?

From Mr. Dolan's article, I learned that former Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell didn't just make one mistake. He acted dishonestly over a period of many years.

All the letters of support Mr. Bromwell received make me wonder just how many other legislators are acting with integrity in Annapolis.

How can anyone support someone who has been so deceitful?

Instead of worrying about being caught, our legislators should simply act with honesty and truthfulness.

Anne Weinkam


Time running out to control warming

The message from the United Nations could not be more clear: Mankind has wantonly caused the planet to warm, causing the "abrupt and irreversible" disastrous consequences we now feel ("Experts urge global action on warming," Nov. 18).

Floods, droughts, invasive species carrying tropical diseases, crop loss, water scarcity, mass extinction of species and loss of human life are only going to worsen as the globe gets warmer.

Through avarice, ignorance, indifference, ideology and downright stupidity, mankind has foolishly squandered valuable time in dealing with global warming.

The experts, who wisely and with great courage sloughed off the politicians bent on watering down the latest report by a panel of U.N. experts, laid out the stark choices and issued a clarion wake-up call.

The point of no return is close. We have only a few short years to make drastic changes in our lifestyles and attitudes.

If we do not drastically cut our carbon dioxide emissions immediately, the planet's climate system will change irreversibly.

I beg every reader to put aside partisan bickering, selfishness and frivolous concerns and work for the salvation of humanity - for clearly this is a matter of life and death.

John Cleveland


The writer is president of Global Warming Action.

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