CATHOLIC CHURCH

Embrace change and build faith communities

As a member of the same Catholic community for the past 18 years, I have experienced a citywide merger of Catholic churches to address priest shortages and budget issues ("Archdiocese to close 20 churches," Oct. 16). From my experience, I have learned to accept that the process is for the better.

In this modern world, there are fewer men answering the call to enter the priesthood. There are more priests older than 90 in the United States than there are younger than 30. With the large number of parishes to facilitate, resident priests are a thing of the past, and today's priests are forced to divide their time among many communities, resulting in the lack of a relationship between priests and their parishioners. These kinds of realities are apparent to Catholics more than ever with the widescale merging of churches. Catholics must learn to accept the matter at hand in order to proceed with seamless transitions.

My parish has merged from six parishes into one, and I cannot imagine a more perfect situation. The merger brought a separated faith community together to worship as one. Parishioners of the merging parishes should do all they can to achieve a stronger faith community.

DAN BAHNAMAN, MINNEAPOLIS

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Maybe the Catholic Church could solve some of the current problems if it was not so rigid. If priests were allowed to marry, it could reduce the priest shortage. And lay members should be given greater authority.

ROBERT SORENSEN, BLOOMINGTON

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Maybe the Catholic Church would be able to keep a few more churches open if it were a little more concerned with Christ's message of love and a little less concerned with antigay rhetoric and antigay DVDs; a little more concerned with virtue, not vitriol.

DON ANDERSON, MINNEAPOLIS

ADS IN SCHOOLS

Don't sell our kids out to the highest bidder

Kids are inundated daily with commercial messages, and the content of those messages (even the "beneficial" ones) is irrelevant ("Schools open lockers to advertising," Oct. 18).

Advertisements promote materialism, and research already links materialism in children with higher levels of envy, depression, anxiety, family stress and lower self-esteem. Twelve years of reports from the Commercialism in Education Research Unit at the National Education Policy Center document specific issues in school-based advertising.

Yet companies continue to pursue the quintessential "captive audience." Why not target parents or teachers? Why not sell student mailing lists? Why not put ads on the district's website? There are many other options that marketers are not pursuing, and for a simple reason: For companies, getting brand loyalty at a much younger age turns more profit.

I understand why districts are tempted by this seemingly easy money. State payments to Minnesota schools have been delayed. Teachers and parents -- at least those who can afford it -- are tired of footing the bill for the basic supplies necessary to keep a classroom running.

It is telling, though, that some school board members have mixed feelings about allowing in-your-face advertising in the schools. To those board members, I say: Listen to your gut. This is wrong. You are selling your kids out to the highest bidder.

LISA RAY, FOUNDER, PARENTS FOR ETHICAL MARKETING, MINNEAPOLIS

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If schools are so broke that they have to sell advertising space in their hallways, and if corporations are so rich that they have enough money to buy that ad space, then corporate taxes are too low.

PHIL NORCROSS, ROSEVILLE

Disaster relief

Are GOP flood victims still antigovernment?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill providing necessary relief and support for communities to rebuild after the flood damage ("Disaster aid bill approved," Oct. 19).

I can't help wondering where his fear of big government is now.

I also wonder if the Republican flood victims are voting Democratic this November. Or are they still voting for anti-entitlement, anti-tax, anti-federal stimulus, anti-helping-the-disadvantaged conservatives?

GARY MORTENSON, BURNSVILLE

Chilean miners

Capitalism rescued -- and trapped --them

While I agree that the creativity and search for profit in capitalism led to many of the innovations that rescued the Chilean miners ("Capitalism saved the day in Chile," Opinion Exchange, Oct. 16), let us not forget that the same capitalism left them in that pit to begin with.

The owners of the mines had been cited for many safety violations; it appears that it was cheaper for them to pay fines than to ensure the safety of the miners. When it came time for the rescue, the owners were nowhere to be found. They said they could not afford to rescue the miners and could not afford to pay them their wages while they were trapped. It was the government of Chile that coordinated the effort.

The bottom line is that capitalism needs regulation.

SEAN FLEMING, ST. PAUL

A letter about letters

Embrace compromise, not mudslinging

Each of the Oct. 19 letters to the editor offered what I want desperately to see: positive suggestions about our community and residents working together on issues. There were suggestions for compromise -- such as a St. Croix tunnel instead of a bridge, and the notion that we don't have to be against the agricultural industry just because we are environmentalists. Rather, we can work together and come up with solutions.

This is exactly what our society needs right now -- a voice of community asking for collaboration, not polarization, and sitting down together to come up with good ideas for solutions, not mudslinging.

MARY JO KINGSTON, EDINA