Letters to the Editor 

PAPAL BULL
To the Editor:
In the midst of all the papal-visit pomp and circumstance, thank you for having the backbone to publish the other side of the story on John Paul II ("Sins of Omission," Jan. 20). As a non-Catholic, I have often wondered why Catholics do not see the glaring injustices that are alive and well within the papal hierarchy. Overpopulation, homophobia, sexism and environmental abuse are issues that can no longer be ignored in our world, much less inadvertently promoted by the church's current policies and belief system.

By having the courage to speak out in the midst of all the papal adoration that is going on in St. Louis, your publication may well have succeeded in opening some eyes and minds today.

Sara Colbert Schoenborn

To the Editor:
Your cover story "Sins of Omission" comprehensively touched on most of the important issues that concern today's Catholics. One significant aspect, however, was not dealt with. That is, how the oppressive fundamentalist attitude of the church is at complete odds with its most progressive, effective and overtly political organizations.

Both the Catholic Workers and the Christic Institute have strong traditions of being at the forefront of every salient social and political movement of this century. This has been most evident in recent decades in the areas of civil rights and anti-nuclear proliferation. And their work continues despite lack of church support.

The stifling and stilted dogmatic atmosphere created by the present church hierarchy led by Pope John Paul II is antithetical to the health, growth and support of progressive church institutions such as these that originated from a once-nurturing church -- institutions that have benefited the Catholic Church and society in general.

Philip Gounis

To the Editor:
The despicable caricature of Pope John Paul II on the cover of The Riverfront Times is an offense to humanity.

No reputable publication can be so insensitive to an aged person suffering infirmities.

Martin Duggan

To the Editor:
This might be sarcasm: I'm really glad that the city of St. Louis has suspended the Constitution's separation of church and state for tourism dollars and fame. For a religion where status is determined by the size of your hat. I am speaking of the school closings for the pope parade. I am a student. I am studying to be a teacher. I am an ex-Catholic who is disturbed at how the Catholic Church has become a business. I still think this is wrong. Referring to a letter in the Post-Dispatch by some lady who really got it right, why does the pope, supposedly Christ's representative, live in a palace, heading Catholicism like a business, and ride into town in a clown-mobile rather than on an ass, wearing "Galilean homespun"?

Twenty points for any old-school Catholic who can remember the name of the pope that some believe the Vatican had offed for saying such radical things like that he believed that God was a woman.

Remember, things that will not change with society, such as the homophobic position of the pope's church, decay from sight. And kudos to Canada's rejection of Monscamto!

Jason Edward Chaffin

To the Editor:
As I read your Jan. 20 article on dissident Roman Catholics, I kept scratching my head, asking myself: What's the big deal?

Some people are angry with the Catholic Church for its doctrines regarding sexuality, the priesthood, authority and whatnot. OK, so if you don't like the way the club is run, why not join a new club? God knows there are enough of them to go around. Baptist, Buddhist, Methodist, Mormon -- all kinds of clubs. Or start your own club. Drop the "Roman" and start an American Catholic Church. It's a free country. What's the problem here?

These angry people sound like divorcees who are still railing against their ex 20 years after the fact, and they still want him/her to "pay," not reconcile. What a waste of time and passion!

Think it over: If you think your club's rules are that skewed, it's probably an illegitimate club. So go find a better club. After all, isn't that what the Protestant Reformation was all about? And then those folks can leave us Roman types alone to worship God in our own perverse little way. And everybody's happy. What's wrong with that?

Kevin McGrane

To the Editor:
Gee, what a silly pope we have. Instead of acquiescing to the whimsical intentions of the past century, the pope has based his decisions on thousands of years of church history and tradition and, worst of all, on the grossly outdated Bible. The silly people who lived a thousand years ago actually believed the world was flat; therefore everything they believed was wrong. With this in mind, let's use the knowledge we've gained since the 1960s and redefine our views on everything: Women should be ambiguously equal in marriage and certainly as crass as we've allowed men to be; intellectuals should continue to influence our affairs with insightful programs such as communism, behaviorism and eugenics; homosexuals should advocate anonymous sex with multiple partners as a right and identity issue, thus aiding a Third World epidemic in a First World country; religion, the final guardian of absolutes, ought to be diluted until elastic enough to allow the worship of jazz with the assistance of St. John Coltrane; divorcees should be able to build vast families that require a flowchart for comprehension. Thank you, 20th century, for giving the light to us through these agendas, and shame on you, silly pope, for bowing your knee to the Numinous and not the wandering fancy of our century's proud additions to the Great Conversation.

Keith Douchant

DEMOLITION MAN

To the Mayor and the Editor:
When I read the article in The Riverfront Times that explained how Bob Cassilly had actually gone to you with a plan and $250,000 earnest money ("What About Bob's Plan?" RFT, Jan. 20), I was shocked and appalled to learn that (1) you did not listen to him and (2) you didn't just hand him the keys to the Arena and let him get to work on it.

What are you thinking, man? It seems pretty clear to me, after spending countless hours in the City Museum with my children this past year, that Bob Cassilly knows what he's doing.

If he'd scratched out a design on a cocktail napkin it would have been a better idea than the one this city is currently entertaining: tearing down a historically significant wonderful building full of memories for thousands of St. Louisans to put up what? An office park. Are you kidding me?

This idea doesn't just border on incompetence, it is an outrage! Look, Mr. Mayor, I worked long and hard several years ago canvassing the city on your behalf to get you elected, and I expected more of you than this. The last thing we need is another empty rental shell or, worse, another parking lot.

Give us all a break and let Bob Cassilly do something creative with the Arena. Please.

Bonnie Kruger

To the Editor:
Great cities are not built by committee but rather through bold singular vision relentlessly pursued. I am not a native of St. Louis; I have no memories of the Arena. Yet when I look on it I see a structure that other cities I have known would cherish and hold aloft as a unique monument to their history and, inherently, their perseverance. The feeling of endurance that every square foot of a great city offers up is the result of one layer of history built upon another. Cities are not created like the manufactured suburban developments, earth scraped clean with freshly planted homes, forever new and forever thin.

Bob Cassilly is right in stating that the Arena is part of the fabric of the city and that to tear it down is to destroy what cannot be replaced at any cost. And why irrevocably bulldoze? No solid proposal exists for the land, no tenant. It is both a nonsensical business mistake and a savage attack on the very landmarks that the city must hold in trust.

I live next to the City Museum, and while I have never met Mr. Cassilly, I have watched it being built as people wondered out loud what would be the fate of such an outlandish venture. Now I find myself navigating the endless traffic it brings and occasionally directing the errant minivan filled with children, who are probably making their first trip into the true city. The value of such an institution is beyond measure, and make no mistake, in this city such willful vision is our scarcest resource. It is clear that the plans for demolition of the Arena are plans made in the absence of vision -- an attempt to erase the symbol of a lack of leadership which has brought the city to this point.

Cassilly's plan is still fresh, and may be filled with unresolved decisions, but I would submit to you that a brilliant plan imperfectly executed will leave this city far richer than another vacant lot, another reminder of greatness deferred, of opportunity silenced. St. Louis should demand to have this idea heard in earnest and perhaps let the seeds sowed in this city's past blossom again.

Kurt Perschke

MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS

To the Editor:
Melinda Roth did a wonderful job of bringing to light a serious and compelling issue in her article "Milky Way" in the Jan. 20 RFT. It is my hope that many citizens take her arguments seriously and contact their state representatives. Rep. Dougherty's bill deserves bipartisan support and a quick passage.

It is a travesty that we as a society are allowing our misguided sense of modesty and decorum to cause shame and embarrassment to mothers nourishing their infants. Our over-eroticization of the breast has encouraged us to forget its biological function. It is sad to realize that in this day and age, with our high level of medical understanding of the necessity of breast-feeding, that we allow nursing mothers to be so mistreated. One can only imagine that if men lactated that there would be a breast-pumping policy on record in every major corporation and that breast-feeding education would be covered by every health-insurance company.

Breast-feeding is only one example of how our negative sexualized view of the body is bad for both individuals and society. I find it extremely sad that parents with opposite-sex children are subject to rude comments and glances when taking the children into the restroom of the parent's gender. The same problem arises for family members who must care for an elderly or disabled person of the opposite sex. We as a community must put aside our own uneasiness about the body and make an effort to accommodate the bodily needs of all our citizens, both young and old.

Beth Cunningham

To the Editor:
Thanks for the great article on breast-feeding! My daughter, Juna, is 21 months old, and we love nursing. I have worked since she was 6 weeks old and pumped my breasts at work.

I had no idea about nursing; I wasn't breast-fed and had no experience with it. I only knew what I read in books. I signed up for a breast-feeding class at St. John's, where I delivered my daughter. When we left the hospital, we got a bag of goodies for the breast-feeding mom. It included several cans of formula, coupons for formula and part of a book about breast-feeding. I was surprised. Did they give me the bottle-feeding bag? I would have loved phone numbers for a lactation consultant and the La Leche League, and a whole book on nursing. Why would the breast-feeding bag include formula? What would a woman less informed than me do with it?

When my daughter was sick for the first time, I called her pediatrician. His nurse told me to feed her bananas and water and to stop breast-feeding. I was shocked. Why would I stop nursing my sick child? I, of course, didn't stop. I called a lactation consultant at St. John's, and she told me the opposite: no food, just nurse and make sure the baby's not dehydrated. This worked fine and is what I have continued to do. Breast milk is free, and it's best for babies.

Stop it with the weird looks: at the zoo, at the bookstore, at my grandmother's funeral. Why is our culture so weird about it? When my daughter is hungry, I am going to feed her whether my breasts are showing or not. And I'll fight for that!

Cindy Taykowski

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