Sept. 30, 2021

A sinful mistake by Thomas Aquinas College

Your readers need to be aware of what is happening at Thomas Aquinas College, an otherwise highly respected Catholic institution in Santa Paula. They plan to dedicate their new $15 million athletic center to St. Pope John Paul II.  He was hardly a saint, and they need to know and recognize why. 

He is the pope who in 2004 rescued Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, the disgraced head of the Boston Archdiocese, from having to testify that he knew about, but protected, countless Catholic priests who sexually abused children. These heinous acts shamed many of these innocent children into lives of alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness, PTSD and, in way too many cases, suicide.  All of this was well-portrayed in the film Spotlight (2016).  So now I find myself speaking on behalf of young men who couldn’t speak for themselves because they felt undeserved but irreconcilable shame.  

For 11 months I have tried to convince Thomas Aquinas College that this would be a serious mistake and one that would certainly have regrettable effects.  Who would want to attend or support a Catholic college that celebrated a pope who, by his actions, condoned the rape and sexual abuse of hundreds and hundreds of Catholic boys?   I have sent the college administration articles from The Boston Globe, New York Times, National Catholic Reporter, etc. attesting to this.   I suggested they read Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power during the Papacy of John Paul II by Pulitzer-winning author Jason Berry.  It took college president Michael McLean 10 months to reply to my initial email and all he said was this:  “Naming the building in honor of St. John Paul II has been fully vetted with our faculty, board, and with our benefactors . . . We honor JP II for his support of athletics. Engraved on the building will be this quote from a homily he delivered on October 29, 2000:  ‘Give thanks to God for the gift of sport, in which the human person exercises his body, intellect, and will … as so many gifts of his Creator.'”

This vetting committee obviously did not take their assignment seriously or with any amount of integrity. There is even an active movement now to revoke JPII’s sainthood. These despicable crimes are still being perpetrated by Catholic priests around the world.  It must stop, not be celebrated by Thomas Aquinas College in this way.

Two days before the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I proposed they consider honoring Welles Crowther, a young Catholic man and athlete made famous in the 2017 documentary film Man in Red Bandana.  Watch it and you will understand why he would be a wonderful choice.  In terms of the college’s stubborn reluctance to change their mind,  I suggest this: “Sometimes we win. Sometimes we learn.”

Michael Estwanik

Sept. 23, 2021

No rights violated by wearing a mask

When was the last time you thought about going to a restaurant barefooted?

When was the last time you walked into a supermarket without a shirt on?

Those of you who have, found out soon enough that you were asked to leave the place of business. 

Why do so many people protest wearing a mask inside when I’ve never heard anyone scream “you’re taking my rights away” for  not wearing shoes . . . or shirt or clothes for that matter.

That’s how silly it sounds when people say their rights are being taken away for simply wearing a mask during  a pandemic. 

Why aren’t these  protestors carrying signs in front of McDonald’s saying “I will not wear clothes inside because it’s my right not to”? 

Those reading this who are protesting the use of masks to enter a business when it’s been  proven to reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19 and now the stronger Delta strain are simply ignorant of reality.

If you are one of the “No Maskers,” I’d like you to ask yourself, when nobody’s around, “am I acting juvenile?”

You don’t know if you have COVID, even if you’ve been tested, because the test is only for that moment in time. You could be a carrier as well as anyone else. Would you want someone to give your parents, spouse or child  COVID? I doubt it. Many “no maskers” are getting COVID in record numbers. 

The last time you were in the hospital, did you decline to take the prescribed medicines because you didn’t trust the science? I truly doubt it.

Come on, we’re all in this together. It’s not about politics. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. You are playing with mine, yours and everyone’s lives you come in contact with.

Please do what’s right and act like the adult you believe you are. 

Our country needs to get healthy and fast. Our economy is in trouble and beating COVID can help us right our ship, which will benefit every American. Right, left, center, Republican, Democrat or child. 

I pray you think this all the way through to the right conclusion. 

From a retired business owner and Vietnam vet.

Leon Rousso, CFP

Sept. 2, 2021

Biden: Abolish the filibuster

In 2006, 192 House Republicans voted to renew the Voting Rights Act. Now, we can’t get a single Republican senator to come out and unequivocally support protecting the freedom to vote for the American people.

That tells you everything you need to know about our hopes for passing voting rights legislation without abolishing the filibuster.

It’s time for President Biden to recognize this reality and use the power of his office to demand the Senate abolish the filibuster. Supporting voting rights legislation alone is simply not enough.

Please, President Biden, we need a strategy. Put the freedom to vote of the American people ahead of any reservations you have about abolishing the filibuster. The stakes are too high to lack your leadership.

Glen Smith

We understand President Biden is busy. Between foreign policy crises, infrastructure, and the COVID-19 pandemic, he has a lot on his hands.

But I can’t help thinking about how his support for abolishing the filibuster in the Senate could help him enact his agenda on all fronts. Most importantly, it could help Biden protect Americans’ freedom to vote in the face of relentless attacks on our democracy.

We need Congress to pass comprehensive voting rights reform and we need Biden to step up and put pressure on the Senate to do so by publicly supporting an end to the filibuster. Biden’s stated support for voting rights reform simply isn’t enough.

President Biden, for the sake of my right to vote and the progressive agenda we elected you to enact, urge the Senate to abolish the filibuster.

Scott Van Fossen

Biden has a choice to make: Does he want to establish his legacy as a president who fought for voting rights, or not?

In order to be remembered as a president who fought for voting rights, Biden must do more than ask the Senate to pass voting rights legislation. He knows as well as we do that bills like the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act won’t make it through the Senate unless we abolish the filibuster.

Biden must publicly and unequivocally support abolishing the filibuster to clear the way for these crucial reforms. It’s time for Biden to be the leader he promised to be and call on the Senate to end the filibuster and protect our right to vote.

We’re counting on him to do the right thing.

Glen Rotella

Jane Kelly-Acuna