Letters to the Editor

Offensive article

February 18, 2009


To the editor:

It is disappointing that the Lawrence Journal-World published the inflammatory article by Leonard Krishtalka (Feb. 13).

His characterization of the scholarly Pope Benedict XVI as “sanctimonious,” “mealy mouthed” and “hypocritical” is offensive not only to people of faith but to all people of good will.

Such writing is laden with prejudice, bias and vituperation which can only hinder the pursuit of truth.

People of faith are anxious to dialogue with others in an atmosphere of civil discourse.

The Rev. Earl Meyer,

St. John the Evangelist

Catholic Church,


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

So in order for you to have a "dialogue in an atmosphere of civil discourse" with Mr. Krishtalka, you would require that he adopt opinions that you find less offensive.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

Well, first of all, Tom, that situation has absolutely nothing to do with this one.

Secondly, the report states the version of the events according to the student, but we really don't know how that differs with what others in the class witnessed.

If I had to guess (and that's all either of us can do) what really happened, the student was deliberately provoking a professor that the Alliance Defense Fund had targeted for a demonstration lawsuit. And it sounds like the student deliberately ignored the instructions for the assignment, and instead offered an irrelevant recitation of his personal religious views.

If the student didn't properly fulfill the assignment, the student rightly should have received a failing grade. If the professor overreacted to the presentation with personal insults during class, they should be reprimanded accordingly.

Brent Garner 9 years, 4 months ago


Even if the professor had stated when he gave the assignment that "religious" based speeches would not be accepted he would have violated the law. I refer to the outcome of a case in Missouri where an individual pursuing a degree in social work was required by the school--I believe it was the University of Missouri--to support a position that was diametrically opposed to the individuals religious beliefs. Although the student asked for an alternate assignment, the student was told to either support the position or lose the degree. The student sued and the school lost. This prof and his school are way out of line and will lose the lawsuit. Existing case law uniformly supports the student.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"This prof and his school are way out of line and will lose the lawsuit. Existing case law uniformly supports the student."

There's not enough information in the article to make a determination one way or the other.

I'm all for freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. But attempting to impose your religion on others, especially where it's irrelevant and/or inappropriate, is not acceptable, and the religious right is hellbent on doing it.

Avery Pearson 9 years, 4 months ago

religion is a wonderful tool to control the populace. Or at least it was, now it's more of a divisive talking point for those with a lot of time on their hands, or those vying for a political post. Those who can keep their faith to themselves are the ones that I respect.

born_to_run 9 years, 4 months ago

"Those who can keep their faith to themselves are the ones that I respect."

I agree!

Alyosha 9 years, 4 months ago

It's unfortunate that this Letter to the Editor completely misstates the original article by Leonard Krishtalka (Feb. 13). That article clearly states:

"this faith-based rehabilitation of Galileo by the Vatican is mealy mouthed. At worst, it is hypocritical."

It does not characterize 'the scholarly Pope Benedict XVI as “mealy mouthed” and “hypocritical"' as the Letter to the Editor claims.

Nor does it characterize Pope Benedict XVI as "sanctimonious." The actual article reads, "The Vatican’s resurrection of Galileo-the-scientist comes with sanctimonious strings."

Would that readers read closely before they leap!

asleepinthechapel 9 years, 4 months ago


I can't believe I spent money on a GRE vocab box. I'll just read the LTEs from here on out.

denak 9 years, 4 months ago

".....Those who can keep their faith to themselves are the ones that I respect...."

Therein lies the difference. For Catholics, faith is not passive. Faith is an action verb. It is not about sitting in a pew on Sunday. It is about helping your fellow man. The Doctrine of Social Justice demands that Catholics get involved in the injustices of the world. It demands that we "feed the hungry" and "clothe the naked." That is why Catholic Charities has been the number one or number two charity in the country for decades.

As for the Church and evolution, this is not a new thing. I went through 12 years of Catholic schooling (1975-1987) and we were taught evolution and from what I have seen on this board, I know it a lot better than a lot of people who claim to be athiest or above religion etc. What the Church does say that differs from some scientific explanations is that there is an "ex-nihlo" creation. That God created the universe "out of nothing" Essentially, everything from the Big Bang forward is correct but God is the one that started it all. For those of you who tend to sneer, renowned scientists Stephen Hawking and James Hartle have a theory that basically says the same thing.

As for science and the Church in general, the Catholic Church is one of the only religions that I know of that has its own "department of science" if you will. The Chuch isn't anti-science. It is a lot more accepting of science than a lot of other religions that ignore, ridicule or deny scientific evidence regarding the history of the Earth, fossil records, etc. And it thinks that Intelligent Design is a bunch of bunk.

As for other religions, the Catholic Church has for years worked towards reconcilliation and inter-faith dialogue with other religions such as Judiasm, Islam and the Church of England. Does the Catholic Church think it is correct on matters of Doctrine, yes it does but the Church has also, in the last 50 years, tried to foster good relationships with other religion.

Usually, I agree with Leonard Kristhalka and personally, I think he would be an interesting person to talk to. However, in this instance, I think he came off as childish. First of all, the whole Galilleo thing is old. The Church has been saying this for a few years now. Secondly, this should be what scientists and people of faith want. This is "evolution". Would you rather the Church, or any religion, refuse to acknowledge that there was a mistake or would you rather it stayed in the dark ages.

There are a lot of religions out there who would rather stay "in the dark ages" but the Catholic Church isn't one of them.


jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

"Even if the professor had stated when he gave the assignment that “religious” based speeches would not be accepted he would have violated the law."

If he had said that. What if he just said they had to be supported by physical evidence? Or perhaps he said that it had to be respectful? Maybe that was just an expectation that was violated.

For the rest, is it this case?


It says they settled out of court at the University's volition.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

But it does seem from what you wrote above that you believe that religious topics somehow give a free pass to meeting requirements of any assignment. That seems like Affirmative Action to me. Perhaps that's not what you intended to get across.

smarty_pants 9 years, 4 months ago

Dena wrote, "There are a lot of religions out there who would rather stay “in the dark ages” but the Catholic Church isn't one of them."

Except with regard to the status of women. Institutionalized misogyny is so dark ages, Dena!

KansasPerson 9 years, 4 months ago

“Those who can keep their faith to themselves are the ones that I respect.”

I don't get this. How do you know they have faith if they're keeping it to themselves?

Christine Anderson 9 years, 4 months ago

Father Meyer, I am disappointed that this man was chosen to be Pope! Herr Ratzinger was a member of Hitler's Youth Corps, remember? It makes me sick that a Nazi-in-training grew up to be Pope. Even as a non-Catholic, I had a great deal of respect for Pope John Paul. This guy? I have to go vomit.

denak 9 years, 4 months ago

"....So, after the Big Bang, then we pick up with Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 1? Just a little more clarification is needed here....."

The Catholic Church does not believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis. What I meant is that, other than God snapping his fingers(sort of speak) and creating the Big Bang, that what science tells us about how the Earth was created and how life was created is correct. Although the Church does consider humans to be special due to human's having souls. It is impossible for me to try to sum up the Church's position in 25 words or less. There are whole treatises written on this subject by the Vatican explaining its rationale. The only thing I can suggest is to do some more reading. But the Church is not anti-evolution. It does not endorse Intelligent Design. It does not believe the Earth is only 4,000 years old. It does believe that God set it all in motion.

"....Except with regard to the status of women. Institutionalized misogyny is so dark ages, Dena!..."

You say this about a Church that venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary, that has female saints(some more important that a lot of male saints),that believe that marriage is a covenant between a man and woman as opposed to the woman being submissive to the man who is the "head of the house" The Catholic Church may not have always been on the forefront of women's rights and there are things that need to be discussed regarding women's role in the Church but saying that there is institutionalized misogyny is just plain out false. In fact, please give me an example. What you might consider misogny might be a matter of doctrine. You might not agree with it, but it isn't misogyny.

As for Pope Benedict, yeah he cames as a bit of a suprise. I wasn't sure what to make of him myself. However, I think the Church was a lot more prudent then we give it credit for when he was choosen. What a lot of people do not know about him was that he was the liason between the U.S. and the Vatican in regards to the sex abuse scandals. There is probably no one who knows what happened more than he does. And I think he was choosen, in part, because he did know and did understand what was going on and he knew the enormity of the situation and what needed to be done. And when he came to the U.S., it was the one issue that he addressed head-on. As for being part of Hitler's Youth, it was mandatory that all boys joined when they turned 14.It didn't really matter if you agreed with Nazism or not. Not many of us would have been strong enough to defy Hitler. And personally, I don't know if I want to stand judgement on a 14 year old especially if that 14 year old grew up to live a life that was the opposite of what Hitler espoused. And considering that he has a good relationship with a lot of Jewish religious leaders and is actively involved in inter-faith dialogue, I think it is safe to say that he is not anti-semetic.


denak 9 years, 4 months ago

No, it really isn't "way too convenient." The belief that Genesis should be taken literally is a new concept. It really wasn't espoused before the 19th century. In early Christianity, Genesis was thought to be allegorical. And over time, how it was read depended on the individual and their religious tradition. So, a person was free to read it allegorically, literally or "in the light of science."

The Catholic Church's official stand is that it is not literal. However, individual Catholics have the right to read it in any of those three way but most view it as allegorical or "in the light of science."

As for the Old Testament, it should be read on different levels. The Bible has different meanings depending on the words being used. So, the Old Testament can be read strictly as a religious text but it also can be read as a "history" of a new nation (Isreal) and as such, one should keep in mind that much of what is written in the Old Testament is "nation-building) For example, Methusalah is said to have been 969 when he died. So, you have to set there and think, was he really 969 years old. No, he wasn't. Ancient civilizations had the same understanding of time as we do not. (24/7 365) So, why say that. Because, by saying that Mehusalah was 969, and another king was 356 or another 875, one makes the argument that thier kings (and by extension their nation) is superior to other nations. As for Leviticus, again, the restrictions listed in Leviticus is a way of nation building. The restructions were a repudiation of what the newe nation of Isreal saw as "pagan" practices (ie Babylonian, Assyrian) etc.

A really good book to read about the Old Testament and how it came about is a book entitled "Understanding the Bible" by Stephan Harris It is a scholarly, non-theological book based on archeological proof. Personally, I think it is one of the best books out there for people to really understand the Bible both as a religious text(it makes much more sense with this understanding) and just as a historical text. If you live here in Lawrence, and I am assuming you do, you could probably get it at Half Price Book Store or at the University since it is a required text.

As for the Virgin Mary, yes, the Catholic Church does believe that she was a Virgin and that she remained a Virgin throughout her life. There is an excellent web page you can visit if you want to know what Catholic think of the Virgin Mary and the teachings and doctrines surronding her. That link is http://www.ancient-future.net/marynew.html

Hope this answers some questions.


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