The need to end culture of clericalism

The "culture of clericalism" is a cause of the sexual-abuse cover-up by the hierarchy, said the chairwoman of the Archdiocesan Review Board responsible for addressing the problem ("Head of Philly priest sex-abuse review panel criticizes her church leaders," Saturday).

She is right. This culture of clericalism is rooted in a mistrust of laypeople. It is difficult to trust anyone with your heart. Yet it is worth all the gold in the sanctuary if you can. Jesus taught his apostles to reach for this when he said, "I no longer call you servants but friends."

For a priest, however, especially a parish priest, friendship is difficult with a few without causing envy in others. And it seems that some laypeople prefer their priests to be on a pedestal. Priests need seminars on this challenge if we are ever going to change this culture of clericalism. Laypeople do, too.

Who will help us?

Paul F. Morrissey, O.S.A.

St. Augustine Parish

Philadelphia

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Let us all praise a local hero

Raymond Perelman should be commended as a local hero for his gift of $225 million to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

This extraordinarily generous gift recognizes that a quality education is currently beyond the reach of many young people regardless of their talent and initiative. It also acknowledges that this education is not an end in itself, but rather a means for skilled professionals to be produced in order for our society to remain healthy in every sense of the word. It is truly heartening to read of such visionary altruism manifested in our city.

Richard Woodhams

Philadelphia

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New law puts homeowners at risk

What we will get from the first bill Gov. Corbett has signed into law is more fire fatalities, property damage, and danger. The measure repeals the residential fire sprinkler requirement in the International Residential Code, which requires all newly constructed one- and two-family homes built in Pennsylvania to have a fire-sprinkler system installed.

This repeal is dangerous because we know that the majority of fires occur in residential homes. About 3,500 Americans die each year in fires, and about 18,300 are injured.

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that the combination of working smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers reduces the likelihood of death from fire by more than 80 percent.

The new law makes a second dangerous change. It requires a two-thirds vote by the Review and Advisory Committee (RAC) to change the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code. This will create gridlock and prevent adoption of commonsense public-safety changes.

This law sends a bad message to our first responders, who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.

State Sen. Mike Stack

Philadelphia

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Peace Corps, Congress insensitive

As a former Peace Corps volunteer and overseas staff member, I regret to hear of the widespread incidence of rape suffered by female volunteers and of the Peace Corps' inadequate response ("Peace Corps is called insensitive to rapes," May 12).

It is good that the matter is being aired before Congress, yet the House of Representatives can hardly be too sympathetic, busy as it is cutting funds for family planning, welfare, and food stamps as part of its own war on women.

Greg Barnes

Haverford

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Reasons to be proud of Philadelphia

Every day we read about the problems facing Philadelphia and its citizens. But every now and then we read something that reminds us why Philadelphia is a great city.

Such was the case with Frank Fitzpatrick's column on Friday, "The Dad Vail and Thomas Eakins." That this article appeared in the Sports section demonstrates the diversity both of the people in this region and of the writers who work for the paper.

In an era when the arts are under attack from politicians who don't see their value and wish to cut funding for museums and other cultural institutions, this article proves that if the arts are removed from our lives, we lose a part of ourselves and our history.

In The Champion Single Sculls, Eakins celebrated not only the athlete but also the city rising in the distance, and we can still view that scene because earlier generations, while building the city, also made sure to preserve the pastoral area along the river.

I hope everyone will read Fitzpatrick's piece and say, "Yes, I'm proud to be from around here."

Sherry Sauerwine

Galloway

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Work provides a sense of purpose

A lack of purpose in one's life is at the root of most of society's ills today. It's awful to wake up and question your purpose each and every morning. Asking yourself "Why doesn't anyone want to hire me?" plays on your self-confidence until finally you think very little of yourself. You start thinking you did something wrong to be unemployed.

The Committee of Seventy claims there are enough agencies for job development ("Yes on Jobs Commission: Make employment a priority," Friday). Obviously, those agencies are not up to the task, and some fresh ideas are needed.

We keep paying the unemployed compensation for not working. Why not take those funds and offer them work that will make them feel productive again?

Look around the city. There is plenty of work to be done. Putting people back to work is a cure for what ails those of our citizens who are no longer contributing, but are begging for the chance.

Dennis Kulchinsky

Prospect Park