According to a news service report, U.S. Catholic bishops will decide if they should tell President Joe Biden not to receive communion as long as he publicly advocates for abortion rights ("Bishops may urge Biden to halt communion," April 29). The bishops should remember the vision of the role of religion in government espoused by the only other Catholic U.S. president, John Kennedy: "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote."
If the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment means anything at all, the religious doctrines of any sect may not be imposed by force of law. Rather, laws must be justified by a secular purpose. If any religion attempts to influence government policies through religious coercion, it reveals that its values are incompatible with democracy. The bishops are asserting moral authority but earning only the nation's distrust.
George Francis Kane, St. Paul
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Absolutely not. A sidebar in the Star Tribune on April 29 reported that U.S. Catholic bishops will decide in June whether or not to tell Biden and other Catholic politicians not to receive communion if they continue to advocate for so-called abortion rights.
I got 16 years of education in Catholic schools all the way through college. I'm pro-life and anti-abortion. But I am not supporting even a consideration of telling Catholic politicians who are not anti-abortion not to receive communion. I'm not alone. "The eucharist ... is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak" is a quote from Pope Francis. The one word in that statement that bothers me is "weak," but a Catholic cardinal has explained the pope's meaning is "imperfect."
My experience with people who are not anti-abortion is that they are typically good and principled people. If the bishops tell politicians not to receive communion, to be consistent they must also do the same to all Catholics who accept elective abortion. Good luck with that.
Jim Bartos, Maple Grove
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U.S. Catholic bishops have decided to take on the issue of whether to recommend communion for those who "persist in public advocacy of abortion rights," more specifically, "President Joe Biden and other Catholic politicians." While they demonstrate courage in working to provide clarification to a confused body of traditional Catholics, opening this can of worms may well alienate far more progressive members and force further reductions in membership worldwide. The eucharist is essential and central to our faith as the bread of life that sustains our faith journeys to eternal salvation.
Thou shall not kill (abortion) is a major commandment, but politicians (and all of us) too often sin against other commandments. We also can't be naive to the many Catholics receiving communion who would support abortion for some circumstances; must they also be banned from the table? How about all the bishops complicit in the sexual abuse coverups throughout the world, leading by example?
I often think of Jesus' confrontation with the would-be stoners of an unclean woman of sin, challenging the first stone be thrown by one without sin; they all left the scene defeated. The woman was forgiven and charged to sin no more.
President Biden was against abortion until he was for it — such is politics — but now that abortion is legal he further has the opportunity to promote and fund it. Would he dare even think of putting faith over politics? Unfortunately, now it would likely take a reversal of Roe vs. Wade to change his politics.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
Boycott call is blatantly targeted
Although titled "Why we must boycott Pillsbury," Charlie Pillsbury's opinion in Thursday's Opinion Exchange has little to do with the Pillsbury Co. and everything to do with the nation of Israel. His call for a boycott of Pillsbury products because the company has a factory in the Atarot industrial zone in East Jerusalem is a thinly disguised version of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that has so far failed to gain a foothold in America except at some college campuses. But make no mistake, Charlie Pillsbury's call for boycott is clearly intended as an attack on Israel. This is clear from his gratuitous accusation that General Mills, which now owns Pillsbury, is "profiting from Israel's war crimes." In Friday's Star Tribune, some letter writer writers pointed out the historical inaccuracies in the author's argument ("So much for social responsibility," Readers Write), but I think it is equally important to point out something that goes more to the heart of the matter.
Like the BDS movement, Charlie Pillsbury's boycott singles out Pillsbury's relationship with the world's only Jewish state, overlooking business relationships it and its parent, General Mills, have with such paragons of virtue and human rights as China and others. So we need to ask, why does the author pick out Pillsbury's East Jerusalem plant and remain silent about its relationship with countries that are serial violators of human rights? Because his proposed boycott has nothing to do with the status of the land on which the East Jerusalem plant is located, and everything to do with the status of the land on which the state of Israel is located.
Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley
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A Friday letter writer stated that the BDS movement is a "thinly veiled anti-Semitic movement." No doubt some BDS advocates are anti-Semites; after all, this huge organization has been around for over 15 years and like any political group, it can attract participants for the wrong reasons.
It's worth remembering, though, that BDS began as a humanitarian effort to bring international awareness to Palestinian oppression. Since then it's picked up support from around the world including churches, human rights organizations, unions, Jewish community action groups, academic departments, renowned scientists and prominent writers, artists and musicians.
Trying to paint BDS as anti-Semitic is nonsense.
Craig Wood, Minneapolis
One gardener resembles another
After I read the article about Warren Kapsner's front yard ("Suburban yard is a daffodil destination," April 27), I took the short drive from our house to his to see it for myself. It is lovely and a stunning tribute to his passion for daffodils. It also brought back memories of my mom, who was an avid gardener and who was recognized in the paper for her gardening skills as well.
We lived on a lot that was over an acre and very hilly. That presented some issues for gardens. While Mom did carve out some gardens in the flat areas of the yard, what I have come to see as her specialty and her passion were rock gardens. She created several rock gardens on the sloping portions of the yard. When I was young, I didn't get why you would plant flowers among rocks. It wasn't until years later that I understood that while the rock gardens were created out of necessity, they became Mom's most creative additions to our yard. I can still picture her balancing on a rock while bending over to add a new plant or take care of the always-emerging weeds.
I smile when I think about conversations Mr. Kapsner and my mom could have had.
Barbara Gilbertson Thomson, Golden Valley
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