Mike Newall's column Sunday about the former Ascension of Our Lord Church ("Once the Cathedral of Kensington, now a heroin shooting gallery") was great journalism, exposing the alarming and tragic way in which drug addicts are unlawfully accessing this once-grand, now-vacant building as an emergency shelter and shooting gallery. But I disagree with his assertion that it would be best to demolish the church. It's wrong to blame a building for the problems of our society and the frailties of the people who are seeking shelter there.
The focus must be on getting these individuals the help they need. It's a tall order, but we should also try to work with the building's owner to transform the church once again into a community asset — as housing, community services, a school, or some other productive use. We can't solve the problems of our neighborhoods by indiscriminately demolishing the landmark structures that define them. Let's make preservation a priority along with addressing the needs of our fellow citizens.
Paul Steinke, executive director, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org
The exploding heroin-opioid epidemic is pervasive throughout our region, crossing all socio-economic demographics. While the "Once the Cathedral of Kensington, now a heroin shooting gallery" article was effective in detailing the desperation of the addicts, the photo that accompanied it was unnecessarily offensive.
There's no need to further dramatize this situation, particularly in this sacrilegious manner.
Even though this church was deconsecrated five years ago, for nearly a century it was home to many Catholics. My uncle, Monsignor Edward Flatley, had been a pastor after many years as a military chaplain and worked very hard to make Ascension a support and refuge for this disadvantaged area. I'm glad he did not live to see this.
Kathy Bandos, Bryn Mawr
The description of the drug problem in rural America appears to closely parallel the crack epidemic in largely black neighborhoods in the 1980s. Both peoples were poor and uneducated with little hope of extricating themselves from poverty.
The answer for the black community was the "war on drugs" and mandatory long jail sentences. For the largely white community, the answer seems to be a lot of hand-wringing and asking how are we going to get these people the help they deserve? Whereas blacks were criminals who deserved punishment, whites are victims of neglect.
If rural Americans are so innovative, like Salena Zito says ("Poverty, drugs are crushing rural America," July 6), why aren't things getting better?
Washington does need to get involved. The mistrust of government is because the politicians don't seem to care. I don't see large corporations moving into impoverished areas. They seem to favor moving their jobs overseas.
Education and addiction treatment is essential. These people need job training and/or low-cost loans for GEDs or college. The same could still be said for urban blacks. Get addicts help and decriminalize drug use, which is the opposite of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions would like to do. His "solution" will only make things worse.
Jim Kippen, Plymouth Meeting, email@example.com
While I'm happy for George Parry that the video tweet depicting President Trump wrestling a man with a CNN head made him feel like a child again ("An outrage? No, it's a welcome change to see the president hit back"), Parry seems oblivious — in a child-like way — to the real world implications and consequences of Trump's behavior; behavior that has so many more thoughtful and less childishly enamored observers so concerned.
A functioning free press is key to our democracy and every president, very much including Barack Obama, has had to withstand investigations, analyses, challenges, and adverse coverage. It's part of the job description.
Trump's unhinged response to this fact is only one of countless indicators of his unfitness for his present role. The kind of "tongue-bathing," state-run propaganda ministry that Trump, and apparently Parry, would like has no precedent or place in the United States.
Since Parry watched TV in the 1950s, he's obviously a man of a certain age; meaning he's old enough to know re-living your childhood is best done in private. Bill Clinton didn't advertise his infidelity on Twitter; but Trump makes a daily display of his grotesque narcissism, infantile rage, and disturbing lack of basic adult coping skills.
Robert Trombetta, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm trying to understand your editorial policy these days. Weekly, we now get Charles Krauthammer, Christine Flowers, George Will, and Salena Zito among other conservative columnists. I gather E. J. Dionne and Dana Milbank have evaporated somewhere, and there are no other liberal columnists worthy of the Inquirer to print.
I appreciate your wanting to be evenhanded, but this is not presenting two sides of the issues. This is completely following the right — and I'm not even talking about people like George Parry who appear from time to time. I am one disappointed subscriber.