Apple Pie and the Pope
Thanks for the lovely article on Pope Benedict XVI [April 14]. I appreciated your bringing out his appreciation for America, its unique and diverse faith history and his current efforts to balance science with morality as well as his efforts to balance faith with reason. I disagree, however, with the suggestion that Catholics have the prerogative to "legitimately balance church teaching against the demands of their conscience." There is a Vatican II that existed only in the imaginations of a generation into sex, love and rock 'n' roll. When one attends to the actual written documents of that Council, what one discovers is the same Catholic teachings as before. The bishops simply put the key focus and dynamics of the church on paper. Sharon Reidy, BEDFORD, MASS.
Your reporters bent over backward to create some religious Americana that has a special place in the Pope's heart. We're plain talkers, not afraid to wade into deeply divisive theological and moral questions and yet always cognizant of our spiritual grounding harking back to this country's origins. The truth is that the previous Pope and the handpicked bishops that rule the dioceses have driven out any plain talkers. That was all done with the iron hand of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger behind the scenes as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He wants a church made up of Ave Maria University zealots--the chosen few who will preserve Catholicism as the Pope envisions it in all its medieval splendor. To think that the church has gone from John XXIII to this Pope in just over 40 years. William Tunney, GRANTSVILLE, MD.
As a cradle catholic, I have waited 72 years for an American Pope. I do not consider a person born in Germany to be "The American Pope." America is a democracy in which we elect our leaders. Catholics do not elect the priests who will become bishops or bishops who become Cardinals or Cardinals who become Popes. Even if I live as long as my mother, who was over 100 years old when she died, I doubt the Catholic Church, in spite of the priest shortage, will ever have women as priests or as Pope. Nancy Cox, MAPLETON DEPOT, PA.
It is blindness to the needs of the members of the church that this Pope will not put into place the changes needed to make the church available to all who seek it--namely, married priests and women priests. I have left the church because of the priest abuse scandals and the lack of outrage by previous Popes over this moral hide-and-seek game that the church has played for many years. The Pope's statement on this scandal will be too little too late. Carol M. Fleming, SUTTONS BAY, MICH.
Personally, I am not interested in candidates who declare "my country, right or wrong" [April 14]. When the day comes that my nation truly lives up to the ideals on which it was founded--instead of trumping them with greed, intolerance and imperial designs--then I too will affix an American-flag pin to my lapel. Until then, I will quietly demonstrate my love for my country by working for change and supporting political candidates who share my ideals. Alan Meerow, DAVIE, FLA.
I'm sorry to see that Joe Klein has joined those who have misquoted Michelle Obama. In the film clip I saw of her making the statement in question, she did not say, as so many have suggested, "For the first time in my life, I am proud of my country." Rather, she said, "For the first time in my life, I am really proud of my country." The word really makes a huge difference and renders her statement perfectly defensible. It makes clear that she has been proud of her country all along, but now that a black man (who just happens to be her husband) has a serious chance to be President, she is really proud. I share her pride on this account. Martin D. Carcieri, SAN FRANCISCO
The Gender Gap
I was intrigued to see Nancy Gibbs' article on affirmative action for boys, "College Confidential," but a bit disappointed that Ms. Gibbs avoided the greater question about what is happening to boys [April 14]. Rather than question what might be behind the slide in boys' achievement--and what the long-term effect might be if boys continue to fall behind--the article instead turns to ponder what this all means for girls. It is a sad commentary when even an article about boys' academic troubles seems uninterested in the roots of the problem. Malia Blom, Director, Boys and Schools WASHINGTON
I am a Hippie grandparent whose children are pushing their girls to achieve and who still just expect the boys to do well. Does this mean I'm a misogynist or a feminist? Greg Jensen, EULESS, TEXAS
The Price of Luxury
Are you people for real? Unemployment is high, gas prices are astronomical, and food prices are climbing, and what do you offer as an article but a report on $40 bottled water and $145 a bottle vinegar [April 14]. Honestly! Going out for us is lunch at a chain restaurant using coupons, and that doesn't happen often. We buy our clothes at Goodwill and discount stores. That $120 spent on a single beer could have provided a family of four with food for a week. Why not do something that will make you feel a whole lot better: donate the money to your local food bank or battered women's shelter. That trumps the exquisite taste of the Best Butter on Earth any day. Cheryl Norwood, CANTON, GA.
More on Biofuels
"The Clean Energy Myth" misses the mark [April 7]. The one-sided and scientifically uninformed piece ignores the large potential of second- and third-generation biofuels to reduce greenhouse gases and the ability of modern agriculture to responsibly manage land use. The Science magazine article (by Searchinger et al) on which TIME relies has been thoroughly rebutted by leading scientists at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. TIME owes its readers the totality of facts to avoid misinformation. For many decades, the U.S. has worked with farmers and the scientific community to increase crop yields, reduce the intensity of pesticide and fertilizer use, improve water productivity and promote conservation tillage that reduces erosion and sequesters carbon. Substantial progress continues in all these areas and was not sufficiently addressed. Last year alone our agencies invested more than $1 billion in research, development and demonstration of next-generation-biofuels production from nonfood feedstocks, which remains the core U.S. strategy. Our government is committed to advancing technological solutions to promote and increase the use of clean, secure, abundant, affordable and domestic alternative solutions. Ed Schafer, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, and Samuel W. Bodman, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary WASHINGTON