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Melendez's Quest

September 25, 1987

What is the Latin equivalent of chutzpah?

Deep in your story about the remarkable Tony Melendez, the thalidomide victim whose armless guitar performance so impressed Pope John Paul II at the Universal Amphitheatre, you report that his adolescent desire to become a priest was quashed when he "was turned down because of his handicap" ("A Star of the Papal Tour" by Beverly Beyette, Sept. 17). A few paragraphs later, while proudly extolling Melendez's talents, his priest, Father De Pasquale, declares: "We don't ever think of Tony as a handicapped person."

Really? Then why isn't De Pasquale fighting to reverse the clear discrimination that has denied the priesthood to someone who can prompt the Pope into bounding off a stage to embrace? The article doesn't mention the specifics of Melendez's rejection, but common sense indicates that any limitation Melendez might have in performing certain rituals could be accommodated.

I would understand if Melendez is no longer interested in pursuing that goal, but if he is, I have a suggestion for him: He should simply write John Paul II a letter, asking if maybe something can't be done.

BRYAN STYBLE

Mar Vista

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