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Cuomo gets free pass from Catholic Church

Like most people growing up in Buffalo during the 1960s, I was raised in a strict Catholic environment. Grammar school with the sisters and Sunday Mass were requirements that were non-negotiable. I can recall many a stern homily, warning of the eternal consequences for those who obstinately persist in serious sin. Lately, I can't help but wonder where those ominous warnings are for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

For starters, he supports abortion. After his marriage to Kerry Kennedy ended in divorce, he moved in with Food Network mogul Sandra Lee. On his inauguration day, Cuomo and his live-in girlfriend attended Mass and received communion, to the delight of the presiding Catholic clergyman. At this writing, the governor is very busy brokering a gay marriage deal for New York State. Provided, that is, that fellow Catholic Mark Grisanti jumps ship. Last I heard, all of the above are strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church.

It's not that I think the governor is a bad guy, or that the church is perfect and without error. I don't believe either. In fact, I'm not anti-anything. I just don't get how a man can actively pursue a political agenda that flies in the face of his church and then show up with his live-in and receive communion like nothing happened. Would it be a sin for someone to suggest the Episcopal Church to the governor?

Robert G. Peterson

Hamburg

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Faith-based funds distributed unfairly

A recent News article featured Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand encouraging certain churches to go after federal funds. The churches receiving these "faith-based" funds are overwhelmingly supporting the senator's political agenda.

There are many other churches and religious organizations that take a more traditional position on things like abortion, marriage and education. They get no faith-based funds. They are closely monitored, and sometimes audited by the IRS and other federal agencies. They spend a lot of money to defend their tax-exempt status, even if they are far less political than the churches endorsing President Obama, raking in the faith-based money.

It is ridiculous that "separation of church and state" prevents aid for gym class in Catholic schools, or bans a manger scene in a park, while politicians hand out money to churches that explicitly endorse and campaign for them.

Paul T. Dlugosz

Cheektowaga

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Kendra's Law is helping mentally ill, community

We are writing in support of The News editorial endorsing the amendments to Kendra's Law. Our support for the amendments is based on our personal experience with Kendra's Law. Over the past year and a half, we have been trying to get help for our paranoid-schizophrenic son. During this period our son refused any kind of treatment. He did not think that he was sick. As a result, his life became dysfunctional and he became a threat to himself and others.

Through great effort we were finally successful in obtaining an Assisted Outpatient Treatment order for our son in April. He has been required to take medications and treatment for two months now and shows amazing improvements.

Our son was fortunate in being able to get help under Kendra's Law; many other mentally ill people in New York are not so lucky. The major problem is that existing law gives these people full civil rights to refuse treatment, notwithstanding the fact they are often mentally incompetent to make a rational decision. As a consequence of their behavior, they often end up in jail, where their civil rights are severely abridged. The sad thing is that by default our jails are becoming our "de facto" mental health treatment system.

Approval of these amendments would mean that more of the severely sick would receive medications and support allowing them to lead a more normal life rather than doing jail time or living homelessly. This is a far more humane approach than pretending that the severely psychotic are capable of making rational decisions.

Financially it is a less costly approach than supporting inmates doing jail time. Socially it is a less costly approach than the violence that the severely mentally ill can inflict on society. Need we cite examples of this violence that is reported almost daily in the news?

Patricia and Bruce Goodale

Saratoga Springs

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New York State needs health benefit exchange

There are 100,000 uninsured residents in Erie County who could benefit from the passage of a health benefit exchange, and Albany needs to act in its current legislative session to pass a bill to set up the exchange.

While there are a lot of complex issues to work out in the exchange, only two need to be decided now by legislation: first, the exchange needs the ability to bargain with insurers to get the best rates for individuals and small businesses. And second, the exchange needs strong conflict-of-interest rules to prevent any impropriety.

Erie County's uninsured residents need more affordable access to health insurance, and the health benefit exchange would provide that. It's time for Albany to set up the exchange. Our senators and Assembly members from Western New York who are in Albany finishing up the session now must be looking out for the individuals and small businesses who will depend on the exchange for more quality, affordable health care.

Linda Freidenberg

President, Board of Block Clubs

Buffalo

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Let's all work together to solve our problems

Every Fourth of July is celebrated with family and friends, get-togethers, barbecues and fireworks. Let this one be filled with thoughts of a better future. In Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural address he stated, "Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. There is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously."

Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" speech spoke about our society becoming great only once our cities are great, pollution is at a minimum and our classrooms are filled with quality students, teachers and supplies.

It would appear that our problems, tasks and goals haven't varied much over the last century or so. We have failed ourselves by not taking action to fix our issues and have elected poorly time and time again. We must realize that the government is not our savior. To help the poor, for example, we must donate our money and volunteer our time to the cause. We as individuals can and must come together to fix this nation by getting educated, working hard, volunteering, donating and voting properly.

To move forward, we must be dependent on ourselves and each other, not the government. Ronald Reagan made this evident in his inaugural addresses of 1981 and 1985. This July Fourth, let's begin to move forward as a city, state and nation.

Gorden P. Schubert Jr.

West Seneca