The church and secular laws

I was interested to read Archbishop Charles J. Chaput's assertion that statutes of limitations on reporting child abuse "are a good idea or we wouldn't have them" ("Chaput: School closings are parishioners' biggest concern," Friday). I assume this deferential attitude toward secular laws means the archbishop will stop fighting to limit abortion rights, which must be a good idea or they would not be allowed under Roe v. Wade, which has been settled law for more than 40 years.

Catholics have a more nuanced understanding of temporal laws than Chaput seems to display in his interview. We need leaders of equal understanding to make a case for which laws command our respect and why. And when our church is in grave danger of losing its pastoral authority, we need leaders who can help to restore that authority by making a more compelling case for its own laws.

Thomas Leitch, Newark, Del.

Corbett plan is fair and reasonable

The Oct. 21 editorial "Gas impact fee falls short" misrepresents many aspects of Gov. Corbett's proposal to allow counties being impacted by natural-gas drilling to implement a fee on wells being drilled within their borders.

On Oct. 18, the County Commissioners' Association, which represents all 67 counties, announced its full and unqualified support of the proposal and urged prompt approval of it. The editorial is also wrong in asserting that the Department of Environmental Protection is underfunded. The DEP's inspection and enforcement programs are robust. Here are the facts:

This year, the DEP issued its largest-ever fine against a natural-gas operator;

The DEP has more than doubled its oil and gas inspection staff;

The agency is on pace to conduct nearly twice as many drilling-site inspections as it did last year; and

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated that it has "no information that the states are not doing a good job" regulating hydraulic fracturing.

The editorial's implication that drillers are not paying their fair share is also wrong. The Marcellus Shale industry has paid more than $1 billion in state taxes since 2006, according to the Department of Revenue.

The editorial refers to the governor's no-tax-increase pledge as "unworkable." In fact, it has worked well: Corbett and the legislature recently enacted a budget that closed a $4.2 billion deficit - on time, and without raising taxes.

The governor's proposal is fair, reasonable, and, most importantly, directs the money to where the impacts of drilling are being felt. Moreover, it would deliver tens of millions of dollars to the DEP over the next decade for enforcement and application of all aspects of the oil and gas program, as well as plugging old abandoned wells. And the beauty of it is that the governor's initiative will actually ensure that the funds do go to the localities and to the DEP for those purposes, instead of going to the general fund and being diverted.

Mike Krancer, Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg

Raising awareness on obesity

It has often been said that comedy is simply tragedy plus time. Nothing better describes the message that Dr. John D. Kelly IV was trying to convey in his recent Outpatient Surgery Magazine article on obese patients (" 'I blew it': Penn doctor hits nerve with fat jokes," Friday).

The obesity epidemic has been around for decades and continues to escalate. Obesity places patients at greater risks than their thinner cohorts when it comes to surgical procedures and post-operative complications. I have seen countless times in the operating room when there has been a concern about the weight limit of an OR table being reached or the ability to close an incision has been hindered by the body habitus of more obese patients. As a man who always incorporates humor into his practice, I think Kelly's message was less a compilation of "fat jokes" and more a lighthearted call for awareness of obesity in the United States. Rather than write another scientific article on the dangers of obesity, Kelly approached the subject in his usual humor-driven demeanor. His message was directed at his peers as a reminder to educate patients on weight loss, eating right, and exercising (things that I have seen him touch upon with his patients individually).

I have never met a more compassionate and dedicated physician than Kelly. Even in a field of medicine that can easily invite individuals who harbor the "God Complex," Kell (as he prefers to be called) remains humble and spiritually driven, with the realization that his purpose on Earth is to help his fellow man and allow God to guide him in that healing process.

J. Gabe Horneff III M.D., Philadelphia

Before Penn, the Swedes settled here

The first sentence of the Oct. 23 "Memory Stream" states, "William Penn and the first settlers of Pennsylvania sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on the ship Welcome," implying that the English were the first settlers in Pennsylvania in 1682.

In 1638, six years before Penn was born, two ships from Sweden, the Kalmar Nyckel and the Fogel Grip, landed in Delaware to establish the New Sweden Colony. The third governor of New Sweden, Johan Printz, chose to move his capital to Tinicum - (Essington, Delaware County). There he built Fort New Gothenburg, which became the first seat of a European colony in what was later to become Penn's Woods. These early settlers, Swedes and Finns, established homes and farms in the area. In fact, what is now Independence Square was a Swedish farmstead when Penn arrived.

So remember, the Swedes were first!

David Andersson, Secretary, Friends of the Swedish Cabin, Drexel Hill

Even if Obama worked miracles ...

Because the "99 percent" protesters lack a PR director, the news outlets missed a big story last week when President Obama secretly visited Zuccotti Park in Manhattan and turned water to wine. Reactions erupted immediately.

Mitch McConnell grumbled that the wine was sour, and he opposed tasting it.

John Boehner said hardworking Americans could no longer get water chasers, that it was all now effete wine.

Eric Cantor whined about job losses among vintners.

Nancy Pelosi noted that Democrats had proposed making wine from water but House Republicans had bottled up the proposal in committee.

Newt Gingrich uncorked an idea that had been fermenting in his mind for weeks of making hay from his Tiffany's account.

Michele Bachmann said, "A lady just told me that Paul Revere did the same thing for our patriots at the Battle of Bull Rum."

Herman Cain poured forth his 9-9-9 plan: "9 bottles with 9 pies" to make $9 million in fees alone.

Rick Perry shot back: "Flat!"

Ron Paul insisted that the Constitution does not enable the president to make wine.

Mitt Romney? He just laid low.

I woke up and turned off the TV. I have already forgotten: What did I say Obama had done?

Dick Webster, West Chester