Forsaking His Flock?

Your article "Millions Marvel at Solar Eclipse" [front page, Aug. 12] states: "Pope John Paul II, who cut short his morning mass at the Vatican so as not to miss the eclipse . . ."

I am sure this was supposed to read "cut short his morning mass audience," as was reported on television news from France and Spain and on NBC News. No priest in good standing would willfully cut short a Mass, at any time, much less to watch an eclipse.

-- Corazon M. Siddayao

Pick a Fraction

What's with the use of "a fraction" in news stories these days? I read in Ceci Connolly's Aug. 17 news story about Elizabeth Dole that she spent $250,000 on the Iowa straw poll, "a fraction" of what George W. Bush and Steve Forbes spent. How much of a fraction? One-tenth? One-half? Three-fourths? Apparently to your editors "a fraction" means something like "a lot less."

How about: "Dole spent $250,000, about four times less than Bush and eight times less than Forbes." That solves your specificity problem, and it doesn't imply, as Connolly's sentence does, that Bush and Forbes spent roughly the same amount.

-- Eric Hayot

`Onerous' Opinion Writing

The arrogance of elitist liberal columnists amazes me. Richard Cohen's Aug. 17 op-ed column bashing those of us who dare to believe that homosexual acts are deviant behavior is breathtaking in its audacity.

Look at one sentence from the column: "It is not bigotry to criticize the imposition of onerous and ugly religious beliefs on the public." First, it is bigotry to characterize my religious beliefs as "onerous and ugly." We are not talking about religious beliefs involving human sacrifice or self-mutilation. We are talking about religious beliefs shared by most, if not all, major religions. We are talking about religious beliefs that repudiate actions and behavior that defy the laws of nature, not to mention God's laws.

As for "imposing" religious beliefs on the public, well, Cohen has no problem imposing his beliefs on me. He wants me to accept without question behavior that goes against nature, against most major religions and against plain old common sense. I will not do so.

-- John King

Baseball Gaps

On the front page of the Aug. 7 Sports section -- in which you fittingly celebrated the 3,000th hit of Tony Gwynn -- you had an accompanying chart of those Major League Baseball players who "Never Made It." While the chart was statistically accurate, it wasn't necessarily fair.

Specifically, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox missed almost five complete baseball seasons because of his military service as a Marine Corps fighter pilot (1943-1945 for World War II and 1952-1953 for the Korean War). Had he played these seasons and hit his career average of .344, he would have added approximately 750 hits to his total of 2,654 -- and finished in the top 10 of all time.

-- Jonathan Gaffney

Cruel `Renewal'

In the obituary of urban renewal pioneer William Slayton [Metro, Aug. 10], Claudia Levy writes, "The lessons of Southwest's renewal in the 1950s and early 1960s were hard taught, resulting in the scattering of hundreds of low-income families around the city without careful regard to their fate."

More than 23,000 people (many low-income) and 1,400 businesses were displaced during Southwest's "urban renewal." As old-time and current resident Joseph Curtis Owens remarked recently in your paper ["Broken Ground, Broken Hearts," front page, June 21], Southwest real estate would today be selling "by the square inch" the way it does on Capitol Hill if the neighborhood had not been destroyed.

-- Nicole J. Burton

Poor Planning

A headline for an item in the Aug. 16 Metro in Brief column reads "Plan for Low-Income Residents to Expire." Surely this marks a milestone on the road to welfare reform. I do enjoy reading your paper. There's always something that's fun.

-- Nathaniel Wilson