Pope John Paul II
your commemorative issue on pope John Paul II was very well done and reflected the feelings of people who loved him and followed his life as a world leader [April 11]. Thank you for echoing so many of my thoughts in outlining the good he did for the people of the world, regardless of their race or religion. He will be greatly missed and deeply appreciated for his teachings of peace.
Oldsmar, Florida, U.S.
The Pope's leadership crossed all barriers, and his love extended to Muslims around the world. His efforts to promote peace and defuse the chronic Palestinian Israeli conflict, and his sensible stand on the status of Jerusalem, were sensitive to all religions. As one of the leaders of an interfaith organization, I particularly valued his role in developing understanding and trust among the faiths. We are in dire need of sane voices like John Paul's in this world torn by lust for power and neglect of human rights.
S. Faiyazuddin Ahmad, President
Leicester Council of Faiths
It was amazing how the Polish people showed appreciation for what John Paul II did for our country. The night after he died, I lit a candle as a tribute to his 26 years of service. When I put it in the window of my flat, I saw hundreds of other candles in neighboring buildings. The Pope was instrumental in ending communism in the 1980s, and thanks to him Poland became a much better nation. That is only one of many reasons we loved him.
The Pope is still living among Christians all over the world. It was overpowering to see how his death affected people. Perhaps those most moved are in Latin America, where so many of the world's Roman Catholics reside. John Paul II visited Latin America 18 times and established a relationship with all its peoples. He understood the injustice and problems facing the region. He ignited profound love and devotion as well as a deep understanding among Latin American Catholics.
It is impossible to judge the Pope's work in its entirety. From any perspective, the world lost a great person. As the saying goes: Let's not be sad because we lost him; let's be thankful because we had him.
Author James Carroll's evaluation of the legacy of Pope John Paul II, praising the Pontiff's "renunciation of coercive force" and his effort to heal the "ancient breach with Judaism," would have been more valid had it been wider [April 11]. The Pope was a compassionate and pious disciple and a strong and charismatic leader. Yet he did nothing to alleviate the inequality that exists between Roman Catholic women and men. I support the full inclusion of women in all aspects of prayer and ministry, including ordination. The failure of John Paul II to extend his compassion to Catholic women who have experienced a God given call to priestly ministry is a forever lost opportunity of an otherwise stellar pontificate.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Women's Ordination Conference
West Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S.
As chairman of Britain's National Disability Council from 1995 to 2000, I would like to thank you for highlighting the problems disabled Europeans still face in gaining access to public and private buildings and services [April 11]. Some improvements are taking place. Officials of Britain 's railways, for example, are consulting on a long term accessibility strategy, including improving access to railway stations as well as providing better information and staff training to meet the needs of disabled rail travelers. What was learned in the development of this strategy is that architects, planners and facility managers must integrate accessibility into their core thinking right at the beginning, rather than treating it as an afterthought.
Mistakes Were Made
The headline on your brief summary of the presidential commission's intelligence report, "No Holds Barred," was absurd [April 11]. The commission came nowhere near "assigning blame for the flawed conclusion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction." Where are the names of operatives and senior intelligence analysts who either covered up faulty conclusions or deliberately lied to conform to President Bush's plan to invade Iraq ? More than 1,500 American soldiers have died in Iraq because someone blundered, yet no heads have rolled as a result of the White House's use of suspect or flawed information to instigate an unnecessary war. Until blame is placed on actual operatives, clerks, bureaucrats and elected officials, the commission's report means nothing.
Woodland Park, Colorado, U.S.
Gaining by Losing
Your numbers column said that John Antioco, CEO of the Blockbuster video rental chain [April 11], received total compensation of $51.6 million last year as the company lost $1.25 billion and its stock fell 47%. Would it follow that if Blockbuster had lost $5 billion, Antioco would have raked in $200 million? Only in America do we condone such obscene payment for bad results. Blockbuster's board of directors should be tarred and feathered by the company's stockholders.
Exeter, New Hampshire, U.S.