Readers Write (June 7): Catholic Church, downtown panhandling, coal mining, "fitting in,” lightning strikes, e-cigarettes

  • Updated: June 6, 2014 - 7:00 PM

Former archbishop can't recall things that others would give anything to be able to forget.

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Archbishop Harry Flynn

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I read with shock and disbelief that former Archbishop Harry Flynn “can recall few details of sex abuse cases” (June 5). He does recall some things related to his oversight of payments to credibly accused priests, but of the victims, not a detail. This from the man who as a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops chaired the national committee that created the charter for the protection of children. If he really does not remember, which I find hard to believe, he has been granted a gift of amnesia that I would guess many of the sex abuse victims wish they had. Instead, they probably can recall the details of those horrid events even decades later.

Patty Schmitz, Minneapolis

PANHANDLING

Downtown billboard campaign is misguided

I think the campaign urging people to donate to “Give Real Change” rather than giving money to “panhandlers” is poorly conceived (“Billboards try to stop begging at the source,” June 4). The Downtown Council leader’s belief that everyone thinks that such gifts perpetuate homelessness is uninformed. Many people understand the true causes of homelessness.

I volunteer at Peace House, a gathering place for homeless, disadvantaged adults. This very subject was discussed in our community. These are the thoughts from the community itself: Donating to the charity does nothing to help someone who needs food, money for a prescription copay (yes, they have copays), a bus fare or other immediate needs. If you need money, is it better to beg or to steal? How many donors are really going to mail Give Real Change a check? If they who have so much want more money, why is it wrong for the poor to want money? Didn’t Jesus and his disciples beg for their needs?

As for myself, I do not believe the amount given on the street will end homelessness or even put a meaningful dent in it. Moreover, if you knew the disadvantaged community, you would find that most would work if they were able to work. Withholding small donations does not foster homelessness. Homelessness comes from poverty, lack of education, lack of help for mental illness and other issues. Remember that a large percentage are veterans. Help where you can — charity is good for the giver and the recipient.

Diane Steinhagen, Minneapolis

• • •

Maybe the “Give Real Change” program could let those who do contribute print out a card to give to panhandlers. It would note that a donation was made to help them and provide locations or directions on where to go to get help. That way both purposes could be served.

It is hard to walk by those asking for money, especially when one can encounter several needy people while walking down Nicollet Mall or in the skyway. This idea would promote that the services are out there.

Amy Omodt, Minneapolis

• • •

We can only imagine what those billboards and administrative costs for Give Real Change and the Family Housing Fund are for this apparently ill-fated attempt to end panhandling in downtown Minneapolis. We know from the homeless that they want to avoid the often-deplorable conditions at shelters as they maintain their independence on the streets.

Growing up, I saw some panhandlers using those “donations” for liquor and cigarettes, the little necessities of their lives. Panhandlers are now a somewhat distant reminder for us to be grateful for the comforts in our own lives. We are free to support the homeless through our volunteer work and private donations beyond tax-financed services. Some of the homeless want to continue panhandling despite all efforts to create alternatives, and we should listen to them. What do they want for food, shelter, medical and dental care, and even possible work to improve their lives?

We are a generous city, and we should be proud that we only have an estimated 300 to 500 homeless, many by choice. We can only keep educating them on all of the helpful services available to meet their basic needs, while soliciting their input to improve the process.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis

 

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