Orthodoxy - a Few Clarifications

Your article "How Orthodoxy Differs From Roman Catholicism" (July 28) was very interesting, but I would add these points:

Regarding the Coptic Orthodox Church, the national church of Egypt, you mention that it is a monophysite church that maintains "that the nature of Christ is divine."

The truth is that while it recognizes Christ as a perfect God equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit (all being one indivisible God), part of its dogma also is that Christ is a perfect and full man. Otherwise the concept of salvation by the Son would be mute.

During the Coptic mass - in the section of the liturgy we call "the Confession," immediately preceding the communion - the priest declares that Christ took his human body from Mary and "made it one with His Divinity." And that "His Divinity parted not from His Humanity for one moment or a blink of an eye." As you can see, this "confession" of faith at the most solemn part of the mass clearly recognizes Jesus as a full man as well as a full God.

Dogma does receive great emphasis in any Orthodox church. It is adherence to dogma that characterizes Orthodoxy and attracts new converts, as you correctly point out in the article. But it is important to note that icons in Orthodoxy are subjects of veneration, not adoration. This reflects the believer's love and respect of the person represented.

Sabry F. Gohara

Toledo, Ohio

For almost 150 years (from the beginning of the 8th century until AD 843), the Orthodox Church was involved in a bitter dispute over the use of icons, in which there were multiple persecutions and illegal deposings of clergy by the emperors. Much was written by those supporting icons on how their use was definitely not idolatry. Therefore, your statement, "the icon has religious status as an object of worship," should be changed to read "object of veneration" instead. This is what those who supported icons attempted to stress.

Dean Christakos

Mendham, N.J.

Elections by whose standards?

It was encouraging to read the acknowledgment that elections do not ensure democracy in the article "The Trials of Monitoring Young Democracies" (July 23). But there is a serious flaw in the language used in US material on this subject. There is an assumption that we possess the definition of democracy. Simply because the West has control over financial aid, is it appropriate that the West should dictate who achieves the correct standard?

Your article quotes a European as saying, "We realize we cannot expect them to reach our standards overnight...." It is arrogant, however, to presume that our standards are best suited for other nations. Be it Nicaragua, Haiti, Cambodia, or anywhere else, we have no right to dictate our version of democracy, or even our version of government, to other nations. It embarrasses me that spokespersons from the US speak this way. Election observers, if welcomed by a country, should be there only to witness, and the standards should be those of the country under observation, not of the "West."

Grace Braley

Gardiner, Maine

Incentives for on-site child care

"Quest for Good Child Care Intensifies" (July 25), an otherwise excellent article, left unanswered a few questions on the role of government participation in regard to this very serious societal matter. It is important that businesses be given tax incentives to create on-site day care with rigorous attention to top-quality facilities. Indeed, we should directly ask and expect it of them.

Any business will reap outstanding benefits if its employees can park their children right on the premises. This would instantly eliminate the time-consuming problem of transportation, not to mention the terrible anxiety and guilt when parents cannot go immediately to their children.

Kelly Platte Seibel

Coconut Grove, Fla.

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