I find it strange that I am compelled to write a letter defending the Church of Rome. Your Sunday editorial offering advice to Baltimore's new archbishop was truly ill-advised ("A new archbishop," May 2).

There is no organization, despite its historical misadventures, that has been a greater advocate for the poor and unfortunate. We start with the Gospel teachings of Jesus and add to that the other New Testament writings. We find such advocacy throughout history. Recall why Thomas Becket was murdered. Look at the purposes of various orders of men and women — the Franciscans for example. In Baltimore, we need only look over the names of a list of hospitals.

The suggestion that current controversies caused by the federal health law are based upon cultural differences is just wrong. These are profound issues of moral teaching. One thing you must give them is a tremendous consistency for being an advocate for life. The last pope spoke against the continued use of the old "just war" doctrine and the death penalty. While I do not agree with the entire sweep of their positions, there can be no doubt that there is a fundamental concern to treasure the gift of life from its inception to its end and to have genuine concern for it quality in between.

John E. Roach, Baltimore