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The RPO's problems, Sacred Heart dialogue

Reader Feedback 4.2.03 

Don't let RPO die

On a recent Thursday, my friend Ethan and I were sitting in row GG of the Eastman Theater after the RPO concert, waiting for the crowd to disperse and the garage to empty. After silently marveling at the collaborative miracle that is a fine symphony orchestra, I said to Ethan, for no particular reason, "How could something that magnificent be allowed to die?"

                  Magnificent is no exaggeration. That night, I'd been tempted to give the overture a standing ovation, it had been so thoroughly realized. Then came the concerto, a major work by the most important American composer of our time. Our RPO had the courage to challenge convention, and played John Adam's Violin Concerto to great effect. Finally, Brahms' first symphony was given with an ideal balance of expressive panache and disciplined intensity. No other word for it. Magnificent.

                  Every show I've attended this season has been memorable, sometimes a revelation. In its 81 years of existence, I doubt that the orchestra has ever presented finer concerts. And seldom in those years has the solace of great music, or a reminder of the higher works of man, been more necessary than now.

                  But my question for Ethan betrayed a familiar fear. So many of the priceless public resources bequeathed to this generation by our grandparents, people who knew what was vital in a civilized community, are lost or withering. Parks, hospitals, schools, arts: victims of selfishness, shortsightedness, corrupted politics, and willful ignorance.

                  Scarcely a week later, the daily paper had the story: The RPO is in crisis, short of cash and on the verge of closing. Despite all the acknowledgements of how vital the institution is to Rochester's survival as a modern community, we are again forced to ask, "How could something that magnificent be allowed to die?"

                  Ethan is a wise man.

                  He said, "It has to survive. It's too important. It is part of what we are, as a city, as a people. It simply cannot be allowed to disappear."

                  Carl Pultz, Rochester (Pultz is a board member of Madrigalia and a former WXXI classical music host.)



On Sacred Heart

Re: "Sacred Architecture: The Church's One Foundation, or Two" (March 12): Once again, Jack Bradigan Spula shows his depth and knowledge on important religious issues. He also attempts balance, while never forgetting his leftist roots.

                  The "off topic" hit on Dr. Barbara Fredericks was his successful attempt to demonize using the conservative characterization. However, canon law and liturgical law require that the priest give the homily after the readings. That is orthodoxy (right teaching). The Roman Catholic Church always and everywhere gives precedence to the priest in his unique role as Persona Christi and homolist in the particular liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass. There exists correct usage for lay speakers.

                  In addition, the architectural plans for Sacred Heart delivered to the Rochester Zoning Board reveal that the renovation of Sacred Heart will be "contrary" to universal liturgical law and canon law. The plan destroys the sanctuary and moves the tabernacle into a room that is not conspicuous or large enough, in opposition to General Instruction Roman Missal 2000-No's 294, 295, 299, 315, and canon 938 (section) 2.

                  Frankly, Vatican II has been disfigured with regrettable statements made by many a modernist American cleric. They have built a foundation that is in opposition to Vatican II, which is a continuation of a two-millennia foundation. Our group is not alone in working to preserve Her.

                  That said, I have enjoyed and admired Spula's work since the Corpus Christi controversy. He communicates a depth on these subjects, which is rare in Rochester. His inclusion of Dr. Murray's comments was very important.

                  Michael F. Brennan, Seth Green Drive, Rochester (Brennan is a member of the Save Sacred Heart Preservation Committee)



Shed more light

Regarding "Sacred Architecture: The Church's One Foundation, or Two" (March 12): While many parts of Jack Bradigan Spula's article were accurate, it was also wanting in several ways.

                  First, he says Barbara Fredericks is a "conservative" because she objects to non-ordained people delivering homilies. However, she is no more "conservative" than the Church, which forbids this in canon law, and which issued a clarification on this issue in 1997. Again, the Church forbids this. It is borderline heretics such as Bishop Clark who promote such things, which is a violation of his office as bishop.

                  Secondly, how is it that you can quote several dissident and deconstructionist theologians, but can't find one orthodox (i.e., faithful) voice for your story, save Mrs. Fredericks? For instance, a cursory Google search would have put you in touch with Michael Rose, who has done some great work on Catholic architecture, and has written several books on the subject.

                  You could have found a faithful theologian such as Avery Cardinal Dulles, Scott Hahn, or Regis Martin, or an apologist such as Curtis Martin or Leon Suprenant or Patrick Madrid, all of whom could have spoken cogently to the subject at hand.

                  Instead, you dust off an aging and pathetic cretin such as Charles Curran, who can no longer call himself a Catholic theologian and who is responsible for the culture of dissent in this country. Even if you chose him solely because of his Rochester connections, surely you could have found someone to balance him out. Or who at least is unbiased in the way that he is.

                  Thank you for bringing attention to this topic. It is a debate worth having. I only wish you could have shed more light on what the true nature of the debate really is.

                  Brian O'Neel, Sacramento

                  Jack Bradigan Spula responds: To O'Neel: Yes, I probably should have quoted Michael Rose or another national figure on the "right." But frankly, I think Dr. Fredericks did as well as anyone in summarizing the orthodox case.

                  By all means, readers should surf for more information. They'll find thoughtful opinions from several sides, along with much vitriol directed against humane thinkers like Father Curran.

                  And an amplification: In my March 12 article, I stated that the Rochester Catholic Diocese did not return my call seeking a comment. Spokesperson Michael Tedesco did call back later; unfortunately, the paper had already gone to press.



Back to the city?

I do believe I will throw a perfectly good vote away this year. Certain politicians sang the praise of rebuilding the city and getting people to populate it once again. Apartments were built, neighborhoods cleaned up.

                  Then I read in the paper: No more New Year's fireworks, no more High Falls laser shows and fireworks. RPO broke. DMV downtown closing. Infighting, backfighting, and half-baked ideas among politicians and their ilk. Worst of all, more tax increases!

                  What person would want to move back to the city for this? If politicians want my vote, let them prove they deserve it. Do some real good!

                  Richard Goode Jr., Alexander Street, Rochester



More 'curiosities'

Thank you for Ron Netsky's article about our department ("Cabinet of Curiosities," March 12). I'm sure it will aid our effort to expand the community's understanding of the diversity and depth of our Special Collections. I believe it will also introduce many to the existence and activities of our preservation program.

                  It is important for people to understand that while book conservation can entail extensive treatments, like those performed on the Erasmus Netsky mentions, it may involve only minor treatments, like paper repair of a manuscript or text leaf, and that many factors contribute to a treatment decision. As Netsky rightly points out, my goal is to perform the least intrusive repair possible while preserving the item and providing access. Disbinding any book, especially an early imprint, is certainly not the norm.

                  The copy of Erasmus' Works is a Venetian imprint of 1508. It had been in a late 19th-century case binding made of acidic material that had not only failed but was causing damage to the textblock. The textblock itself, composed of exquisite handmade and hand-printed rag paper, had suffered staining and losses from water damage and centuries of exposure to environmental pollutants. The importance and value of this early imprint, preservation concerns, and the use the book regularly receives from our community all warranted its extensive treatment.

                  For readers, especially bookbinders and collectors, who may have been confused by the phrase "rope binding," I'd like to clarify the structure of the binding I made. The washed and repaired signatures were sewn (at the original sewing stations) on double cords which were then laced into shaped boards. The book was then covered (rather than "coated") with alum-tawed pigskin, simply decorated with blind tooling, and housed in a clamshell box. This historically accurate binding structure was appropriate for this 1508 imprint.

                  I also wanted to elucidate the duties and accomplishments of the other members of the conservation staff. As Rare Book Conservator, I do indeed perform a range of treatments --- most of which take two hours or less, not 85 hours like the Adagia of Erasmus --- on some 700 Rare Books and Special Collections materials a year. The two other staff members you allude to are our very skilled general collections conservation technicians, Leah Hamilton and Thu Thi Do, who perform a wide variety of treatments on an average of 14,000 items per year from the circulating collections of the River Campus Libraries.

                  Along with our colleagues in the Libraries, the conservation staff is dedicated to insuring that all of the University of Rochester's collections, rare as well as circulating, are preserved for the use of generations of patrons to come.

                  Andrea Reithmayr, University of Rochester (Reithmayr is Rare Book conservator at the UR's Rush Rhees Library.)





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