Inside the Mind of the Pope
Readers responded to our stories on the new Pontiff, some with celebration, some with disillusionment. Conservative Catholics rejoiced in the selection of a man known as John Paul II's strong right hand. Progressives expressed a feeling that any hope for a reformist papacy will have to wait
Time's cover stories on the election of Pope Benedict XVI and about his religious philosophy were excellent [May 2]. I believe he was chosen by the Holy Spirit. It's fine to talk of worldly politics, but in the end the Pope, Christ's vicar on earth, is elected simply because it is the will of God. I have absolutely no doubt that Benedict is the right man for the job.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
Thank you for your coverage of the election of our new Pope. We Catholics cannot explain in mere human terms the joy of having chosen a Pope. But as the whole world has seen, we certainly can express that joy. As free and responsible persons, we follow the Pope, the vicar of Christ on earth, not out of fear but out of love. We know by faith that when we listen to the Pope, we follow Christ.
(The Rev.) Michael Angelo Cardenas
You revealed the new Pope to be an uncompromising old man who will not respond to American Catholics' disenchantment with the church's antiquated edicts. Doctrinal disagreements in the past have caused groups to split from the Catholic Church and go their own way. When will a new generation of Catholics refuse to tolerate the frustration they feel about church dogma that they do not follow anyway? Can they find a new Martin Luther to break with the power-hungry old men in Rome? In a new church in synch with current values, vacant pulpits could be filled by married men and by women. The "cafeteria Catholics," who choose the church teachings they wish to follow and whom the Pope disdains, would return to their pews on Sundays. Enlightened views on contraception, stem-cell research, sexual discrimination and abortion could be accepted. The question is not if but when such a break will occur. The new Pope may be the catalyst for that sorely needed change.
Seaside, California, U.S.
The new Pope is conservative, and while this is not good for church unity around the globe, I doubt that a more liberal Pope could bring about much change. The Catholic Church will always insist on the Pope's overarching status. Europe will not be saved by the Pope, nor will Christianity grow in Western Europe, as almost two millenniums of church tyranny will not be easily forgotten or forgiven. My hope is that the next Pope will be a man who will truly attempt to bring reconciliation to the universal church of Jesus Christ.
Pope Benedict can, I trust, give much to the church; help the poor and the sinners; and since he is German, influence Germans and other Europeans to come back and fill the empty pews in Europe.
Cavite, the Philippines
Although progressive Catholics seem frustrated that the church won't be swayed by those who want it to break with 2,000 years of consistent doctrine, the church, theologically seen as the spouse of Christ, has done what a good mother should do: teach and guide us on the narrow path [May 2]. She reminds us that the church family is not a democracy and that it is not her job to be our friend. She is our mother consistent, a little old-fashioned but she instructs us and gives us shelter on the road to heaven.
Morrisville, North Carolina, U.S.
The U.S. has become a moral waste-land in no small measure because we Catholics have done a bad job of forming our conscience and then living in accordance with it. Abortion, embryonic-stem-cell research, pornography and morally offensive "alternative" lifestyles would not have become so entrenched if we had given a hoot about living our faith.
Bennington, Vermont, U.S.
Pressing Tony Blair
I was pleased that columnist Joe Klein mentioned BBC interviewer Jeremy Paxman in his article on Tony Blair's election campaign [May 2]. Paxman's pointed questioning of Blair about the Iraq war is exactly the kind of journalism that politicians hate: relentless pressure for direct answers. Over the years several interviewees have actually walked out of on-air sessions because of Paxman's rigorous approach the kind of tough-style journalism that the U.S. media need to adopt. They are far too deferential to U.S. politicians and let them get away with scripted and misleading answers. What a joy it would be to see Paxman grill President Bush and others in his Administration.
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
your report on race relations in South Africa 10 years after the end of apartheid was quite balanced [April 25]. Naturally, racism and racial conflict cannot simply vanish after they have been the norm for so long a time. In any case, humans everywhere engage in conflict over natural diversity. Clannishness and tribalism, for instance, both common in the rest of black Africa as sources of vicious conflict, are the offspring of the same parents as racism. Homo sapiens, the "wise man," is not yet truly wise. Majority-ruled South Africa, despite remnants of the racist era, has enjoyed remarkable stability and a robust economy, thanks largely to the singular wisdom of the African National Congress (anc) under the leadership of Nelson Mandela. The anc did not go after revenge following the free elections in 1994 but instead built on the positive attributes from the apartheid era, such as a strong economy.
Michael E. Aken'Ova
Getting beyond race will be a long process, but South Africans at all levels are doing it day by day, every day. Progress so far has been stunning, but the final success will take generations. In the meantime, this country is setting the world an example by peacefully building a very diverse multicultural society. South Africa is best described as a successful country with some big problems, such as poverty, aids and crime. These are being addressed, but, like racism, they will take a long time to be satisfactorily resolved. We are pointed in the right direction, and right now our cup is more than half full. Given the determination and goodwill pervading this country, in time it will overflow.
Bryanston, South Africa
Bolton 's Image Problem
Re Your story on the controversy surrounding John Bolton, Bush's choice as ambassador to the U.N. [May 2]: Does the U.S. really want a contender for worst boss to represent it to the rest of the world? A former colleague called him a "kiss-up, kickdown sort of guy." Too many of us know the type. All of us should feel the injustice every time that sort of person is rewarded. The U.S. has an image problem in much of the world. We're seen as out of control, arrogant and a bully. Yet the Administration wants a guy at the U.N.who is out of control, arrogant and a bully.
Before the Flood
Your story "where the waters are rising" described how the Maldives are affected by global warming [May 2]. The best way to save such low-lying areas from rising ocean levels is for the U.S. to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and radically cut back on greenhouse-gas emissions. Why is it that the U.S., the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has both the money and the technology to reduce harmful emissions but lacks the political will to do so? It would be better for the American people to start planting trees in their backyards and write to their Representatives in Washington to tell President Bush to support the Kyoto Protocol.
Jim Victa Hipolito
Kawit, the Philippines
Give Greenspan a Break
Your story about the rocky economy and tough criticism faced by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan was titled "Greenspan's Deficits" [May 2]. That's unfair and misleading. It's like calling the Indian Ocean catastrophe "Bush's tsunami." Notwithstanding some bumps along the road, Greenspan has presided over a period of extraordinary prosperity for our nation. Today's massive deficits stem from a bipartisan band of congressional spendthrifts and our purportedly conservative President. Greenspan sets banking and monetary policy. He has no control over the insatiable thirst of elected officials to spend, spend, spend.
Oren M. Spiegler
Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, U.S.