THE POPE IN THE HOLY LAND
"Walking on water or resurrecting the dead would be an easier task than making peace here. But isn't the Pope a match for this job?" AMNON KARIV Raanana, Israel
"Your story on the Pope's trip to the Holy Land [THE PAPAL PILGRIMAGE, April 3] sent a message of hope to the world. How can a frail figure, a "bent old man," evoke such respect in Christians as well as non-Christians? His presence in the world and his timing have, as you said, helped change history--in Russia, Cuba and perhaps now in the Middle East. The Pope has shown the world what true leadership is all about. RICARDO RAMIREZ-GASTON Burke, Va.
Some 2,000 years ago, Christianity was born during a time when the Jewish faith was well established in Israel. A few hundred years later, Islam entered the picture. Ever since, these three religions have been bickering over land and people, creating wars and other havoc. Who is to blame depends on whom you ask. Pope John Paul II has taken a major leap forward to help bring Christians, Jews and Muslims together in a bond of peace. Unfortunately, it may take a few hundred years to improve these dysfunctional relationships. Because of all his efforts (including his support for the people who helped dismantle East European communism), Pope John Paul II should be named Diplomat of the Millennium! ROB BISHOP San Antonio, Texas
After exhausting exposure to photos of smiling, insincere pretenders to the American presidential throne, I was relieved to see your extraordinary picture of an anguished Pope John Paul II, head in hands, seated between intransigent Jewish and Muslim adversaries in Jerusalem. Might he be apologizing for the frailty of mankind? KIT HAYDEN Newcastle, Maine
Pope John Paul's courage, moral integrity and indomitable spirit set him apart from all other world leaders. His words and actions during this trip may not have appeased or pleased everyone. Yet when I listened to his words at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and saw his shaking hand touch the Western Wall, I knew this was a man of peace for people of all nationalities and faiths. PAULA DELFIORE Cranston, R.I.
As the only American to work inside the St. Petersburg administration with Vladimir V. Putin (from 1992 to 1996), I commend TIME for the accuracy and completeness of its report on Putin and his election as President of Russia [WORLD, April 3]. He is an extraordinary man. I was assigned to his international-relations committee and found him to be charming (yes), drolly humorous, enormously capable and totally appreciative of Western democratic values. I predict that he will sometimes exasperate and disappoint us, often disagree with us, but more often please us with his bold and clever actions to strengthen Russia and finally bring a just and compassionate balance between law and order there. Watch him carefully, and continue not to overreact. He never does. RICHARD TORRENCE New York City
I often listen to what Putin says with frankness on the radio and watch him on TV. I'm greatly impressed by his personality. Our people need a wise and powerful leader such as he. Putin is just the man to rule Russia. IGOR MIKHAILUSENKO Moscow