Letter to the Editor

Pope Francis’s reforming words

Michael Gerson appears to be in full swoon for Pope Francis, as revealed in his Sept. 24 op-ed column, “Francis the troublemaker.” To be fair, I, too, am intrigued by this new, Jesuit pope. Francis is a very smart man, and he certainly understands public relations and 21st-century optics far better than his most recent predecessor. But given the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history of intransigence and moral certitude, Mr. Gerson should take more of a wait-and-see approach before bestowing the title of “radical reformer” on this pope.

Much has been made of Francis’s comment, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. . . . We have to find a new balance.” Indeed. But does the pope mean that the church must revisit and rethink these issues? Or does he simply mean that church officials need to talk less frequently about these hot-button issues? It’s a very important distinction, and, as always, actions speak louder than words.

John Dalby, Leesburg

Michael Gerson summarized Pope Francis’s latest bombshell aptly: “He is prioritizing [the Catholic Church’s] mission” and “Francis’s deeper insight [is] the priority of the person.”

Our political parties seem to reflect the conflict Francis sees: ideology vs. the individual — principles vs. the person. Consideration for the person must be the standard for any politician and any voter.

Donald Connolly, Chevy Chase

It’s always tricky talking about God. It’s often hard to say things which are both true and meaningful. An example of this difficulty was Michael Gerson’s remark that, “In every way that matters to God, human beings are completely equal and completely loved. They can’t be reduced to ethical object lessons.”

If, in God’s eyes, “human beings are completely equal and completely loved” no matter how they act, then to God, at least, it doesn’t make any difference how you act — you are completely equal with all others and completely loved. St. Francis of Assisi is equal to Stalin or Pol Pot or Mao Zedong? A most strange consequence to countenance. It doesn’t make a difference how you act? It certainly makes a difference to the people your actions affect. Is their well-being of no interest to God?

And I do not think that the distinction between the person and the action will save the day. Not unless you want to say that how we act has no effect on and is not reflective of who we are.

George M. Brockway, Arlington

 
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