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Church's holding to its principles should be praised

Re: The church wins round, and women lose again, by Mary Jo Melone, Aug. 3.

It's funny how people can be so principled and ethical on some issues and so unprincipled on others. During the apartheid days, corporations that divested themselves of South African holdings were "principled and ethical" and columnists like Mary Jo Melone applauded their stance. In the case of BayCare's agreement with Catholic Health East (St. Joseph's and St. Anthony's), taking a principled and ethical stance means that the Catholic Church's respect for life is "running roughshod over the lives of many." (I could say that abortion clinics do the same over many, many more lives each day, but that would make me one of those "pro-lifers" with a rifle that Melone mentions in her column.)

It seems that it's easy to talk about principles and ethics when they're ones you agree with and easy to dismiss them as religious extremism when you don't. The Catholic Church has stood undiminished for two millenniums precisely because it sticks to its principles, ethics _ and, yes _ morals. How much force would it have if it compromised its beliefs in order to make a business deal in the case of some hospitals in Florida? Melone and just about every woman of childbearing age in the bay area knows where there are clinics that will abort your child, regardless of your reason for electing the procedure, as long as you bring the cash. The fact that BayCare has chosen to follow the Catholic Church's "seamless garment" of pro-life policies _ which, by the way, extend to assisted suicide and the death penalty _ goes against the grain of the corporate sellouts we see in the news every day. In a society so full of unethical behavior, taking a stand and sticking by your principles is something to be applauded, not decried.

Sleazy corporate behavior is something we take for granted these days _ from defense contractors crowing about the multibillion-dollar profits they make on weapons of destruction to companies selling out for the sake of making a buck. It's rare that a large corporation like BayCare takes a position unpopular with columnists for the sake of moral principles and ethics.

Maggie Hall, Dunedin

Religious interference opposed

Re: Abortion rules cloud hospital's lease, Aug. 4.

I will fight to the death to protect a Catholic's right to practice his or her religion, but I will not permit a religious doctrine to dictate which medical practices my doctor and I choose.

The hospitals of BayCare must be split immediately. They are illegal!

Carmaleta T. Kirchheimer, St. Pete Beach

Church has long stood for life

I was upset by some of the comments in two articles from the Aug. 3 edition of the St. Petersburg Times: The church wins round, and women lose again and Closeted Catholics.

The teachings of the Catholic Church have been around for some 2,000 years. So why are people still so surprised when the church speaks out on its views on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, etc.?

Even though the church is against sex outside of marriage (whether between a man or a woman, two men or two women), use of abortion, contraception and the death penalty, it doesn't mean that the church has no compassion for people involved in these practices. The theme of most of these teachings is to choose life: Condemn the crime of murder but don't murder the killer; don't separate sex from its purpose; and use the science of medicine wisely. In the case of Catholic institutions, they should follow the teachings of the church as a guide for their rules and regulations.

These teachings have survived the centuries, and they will continue. Reconciling these teachings and the current trends has always been difficult, but I'm sure there will be a way. In the case of church teaching, we Catholics must let our church leaders guide us.

Susan Rybacki, Gulfport

Where all are welcome

After reading Closeted Catholics in your Aug. 3 edition, I feel a need to write.

Jesus invited all to his supper. He never said all except gays, transgendered or bisexuals.

As leader in Florida of the Apostolic Catholic Church, I invite all to join us at Christ the Servant parish in Tampa or at All Saints parish in Brooksville. We are a totally inclusive church, and we seek to reach out to all persons who have felt alienated by their prior church experience. We are a Catholic church and offer a full Catholic Mass and liturgy by ordained priests. We, like other independent Catholic churches across the country, have chosen non-affiliation with Rome. We believe that who a person is and how that person has chosen to live do not separate him from the love and compassion of God.

Most Rev. Charles Leigh, bishop for Florida, Tampa

Mistreatment of lobsters is wrong

Re: Lobster game upsets activists, July 31.

The game upsets non-activists, also. My wife and I are not "PETA-freaks." We boil our own lobsters. We eat meat, fish and fowl. We even eat "exploitive" byproducts such as cheese and butter.

However, the intentional mistreatment of any animal is seldom justifiable. And the frightening of these lobsters for profit and entertainment is just plain wrong.

Too often in this world, the laughter of unthinking, not unkind, people or the loud "ka-ching" of a cash register drowns out the quieter voices of our humaneness and common sense.

Joan and Carl Stevens, Belleair Bluffs

Crustacean concern is misguided

Re: Lobster game upsets activists, July 31.

Is the "Lobster Zone" at Crabby Bill's restaurant cruel?

How about breaking claws and legs off a crab? How about catching a fish and battling it for minutes or hours? (Do they suffer?) How about using bait (shrimp, shiners, plain old worms) strung on a hook?

On to the ridiculous: Do you hear your veggies cry when you peel them or your flowers and trees when you cut them? Or that ugly roach in your house you stepped on?

Come on, people _ get real!

Virginia Townsend, Largo

A culture disconnected from nature

Re: Making sport of dinnertime, Aug. 3.

It should come as no surprise that our children are so comfortable tormenting captive lobsters in restaurant aquariums. In modern American culture, we are almost totally disconnected from nature. As a consequence, we view the Earth's creatures _ and nature itself _ as inanimate.

This convenient illusion about the character of nature allows us to pillage our natural resources, foul our waters, pollute our skies, litter our beaches and kill wild animals _ all without any sense that it is actually we who are being harmed in the process.

Such behavior is, of course, wholly to be expected in a society that considers the killing of animals to be a wholesome and manly sport. We call this sport hunting. Hunting purely for food and survival is one thing, but that is rarely what we find in America. Instead, we witness the strange spectacle of one species (humans) deriving obvious pleasure from capturing and killing other species. It is recreation, pure and simple. The crowning touch to this insanity is that we humans feel such pride in the killing that we memorialize the event by mounting the killed creatures on the walls of our homes.

That we consider any of this as recreation is truly an abomination. And that we do not, as a culture, recognize this as an abomination is a tragedy.

So long as we continue to kill animals for pleasure, our children will remain indifferent to the suffering of virtually all animals except the family pets. And for as long as we maintain our sad disconnect from nature, we will continue to mislead our children that they are the owners of nature and that nature exists only for, and at, their pleasure.

Bill Douglas, St. Pete Beach

It's just a lobster's life

Re: Making a sport of dinnertime, Aug. 3.

Those lobsters are doing exactly what they were doing before they were caught (which incidentally is no easy task) and that consists of avoiding being grabbed all day and night. They spend their entire lives being chased by moray eels and barracuda, which if successful dispatch the lobsters to crustacean heaven.

To apply human feelings and considerations to a bug is a complete waste of time. Sort of like my having read this article, and your having published it. Perhaps the real story should have been how the developers and politicians have permitted the unchecked growth and overbuilding of this area to the point where we must wait 35 minutes to an hour _ and therefore be so in need of entertainment that watching bugs getting chased is fascinating _ just to eat!

M.R. Donaldson, St. Petersburg

Editorial missed facts in McHugh case

Allow me a brief response to your July 24 editorial, A problematic professor, regarding professor William McHugh of the Florida State University college of law.

Thomas Henry Huxley once described "facts" as those ugly little things that tend to subvert beautiful hypotheses _ or, here, a righteous editorial.

But the mastery of facts requires diligent research of such things as the farewell given by College of Law Dean Paul LeBel in an e-mail excoriating the College of Law faculty for its internecine warfare, and the testimony and exhibits in the McHugh case itself. (McHugh's troubles began, as the record shows, when _ at the behest of a female student _ he reported to the dean sexual harassment of a female student by Dean Donald Weidner's lieutenant.)

It's too easy, too self-gratifying to ignore facts in the rush to a beautiful hypothesis or editorial opinion. Nor is it a practice worthy of a great newspaper.

Stephen Marc Slepin, attorney for professor William

McHugh, Tallahassee

Acknowledge racial injustice

Re: Civil rights, civil matters, July 27.

I am disturbed about the objections raised by some St. Petersburg City Council members regarding the plaque proposed to commemorate the history of the racist mural and to express regret for the injustices of its existence and the incarceration of Omali Yeshitela following its removal.

I believe that in 1966 St. Petersburg's top city officials disregarded the important voices of many of its citizens, a choice resulting in terrible outcomes. I hope that City Council will now listen to and respect the voices of the community members who have worked to communicate the importance of this issue to them. In addition to African-American citizens who faced the assaults on their dignity represented by the mural and the events after its removal, I know many white citizens who regard the plaque as a step toward healing the legacies of legal and behavioral racism that exist in this city, as well as in our entire country.

I hope the City Council will progress, not regress. It takes courage to acknowledge the past accurately. I believe that the plaque represents telling the truth about our history, expressing regret for injustices and, in so doing, working toward egalitarian race relations in our city. With a plaque as a symbol of respect, responsibility and accountability, St. Petersburg can serve as a positive model for other cities wishing to move forward on the issue of race.

Maureen Corbett, St. Petersburg

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by e-mail to letterssptimes.com or by fax to 893-8675.

They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number.

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