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Bishops conference skips the real issues

This week nearly 300 bishops will be meeting in Baltimore ("Nation's Catholic bishops gather in Baltimore Monday," Nov. 9). They will be tidying up some housekeeping measures in the Catholic Church, but ignoring the example of Pope Francis, they won't be addressing those matters that divide the church and cause practicing Catholics to leave in droves.

Two issues that affect me personally, and legions of other Catholics, will not be on the agenda. The bishops will not consider the acceptance of homosexuals in the church and the man-made rules that prohibit divorced Catholics from receiving Holy Communion.

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My brother loved the church and its liturgy. He was a choir director for over 40 years and served the church in numerous other ways. As a homosexual man he died without the comfort of knowing the church he served so well could accept him. A member of my family and church dropout like myself, was prohibited from receiving communion after being divorced by a man who left her for another woman. At the lowest time in her life, and when she could have used some compassion, the church piled on instead.

Like other disenfranchised Catholics, I hope and believe Pope Francis will open the window and let some fresh air in. If his bishops and cardinals close it behind him, his oft quoted words, "Who am I to judge?" will ring hollow. The Catholic Church has been judging people for centuries, deciding who gets to go to heaven and who gets to go to hell. My wife, a convert to Catholicism came out of the confessional crying because the priest told her she was going to hell and taking me with her. Too bad she has to go to hell now because if she had remained Protestant, she could still be going to heaven. My dad was right when he said there aren't many Catholics in heaven because we have too many rules we can break.

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Ed O'Malley, Columbia

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