Our readersOctober 10, 2013

Readers respond to "A Big Heart Open to God," by Antonio Spadaro, S.J. (9/30)

A Beautiful Heart

The wonderful interview with Pope Francis is something that I will read over and over, trying to grasp for my own life the deep values that Francis holds dear and his vision for the church. It is wonderful spiritual reading in the truest sense.

This interview has given us a glimpse into the beautiful heart of our pope—a person so human, a person who loves God and others so much. I thank him for sharing his heart so personally and humbly, and I thank America for making this available to all of us! God bless you!

Mary Diane Ackerman, O.S.C.
Yangyang, South Korea

The Next Edition

Pope John XXIII referred to Vatican II as “opening the windows of the church” to let in some fresh air. Pope Francis is opening the doors. Perhaps we should refer to this era as Vatican 2.2. Francis is making a huge impact, not like a new council would, but in that direction.

Don Rampolla
Torrance, Calif.

Like a Parish Priest

While Francis hasn’t changed church policies or dogma he has changed the discussion and returned the emphasis to the poor and the spiritually wounded. I think he has set a new, optimistic direction for the church.

He acknowledges the role of women. While he opposes their ordination to the priesthood he does acknowledge our issues are important and deserve discussion and respect. My great hope is that he will reverse the damage that has been done to the American nuns and to Roy Bourgeois and welcome him back as a full participant in the church.

Francis seems to have flipped the power structure; he’s behaving more like a parish priest than a pope. I hope the cardinals and bishops will listen to Francis with an open heart and speak out against U.S. policies that hurt the poor, children, immigrants, elderly—all targets of mean-spirited politics like the vote in Congress to cut food stamps, but the people whom Christ holds most dear.

Sharon Stockard
Anchorage, Alaska

Persistent Preaching

I can’t recall the last time I heard a church sermon denouncing abortion, homosexuality or contraception. Hence I am puzzled by Pope Francis’ desire to de-emphasize these teachings in favor of striking a “new balance” that completely favors compassion and mercy over orthodox teaching and justice.

The church must remain vocal in promoting the truth on the most pressing issues of the day. There is an overwhelming fear among priests to talk about topics that are “politically incorrect.” In contrast the Bible exhorts the church to “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Tm 4:2).

Paul Kokoski
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Prophetic Post

Thanks to you all for collaborating on this interview with Pope Francis. What a truly great message to the world. His openness and sincerity about humility and service is food for thought for many retreats and days of recollection to come.

My wife was diagnosed with a Stage 4 cancer last year, so as we make this journey I have been sharing my thoughts on caringbridge.org with friends and relatives. During the conclave I posted these words: “We have been following with interest the events in Rome. She and I pray that the Holy Spirit will move the leaders to choose a true pastor to serve all with simplicity and joy. Where is my patron, St. Francis, when you need him?”

Lo and behold, a Jesuit emerges and chooses the name Francis, who is also my patron saint. Thanks be to God.

Francis J. Wiesner
Milwaukee, Wis.

Choice of Words

This is a wonderful and thoughtful interview, very encouraging and renewing. One problem I see, however, is the pope’s constant references to God as “he.” The last line of the interview sums this up. Francis says: “It is this memory that makes me his son and that makes me a father, too.”

I understand this but what room does it leave for my 12-year-old daughter or my wife? The pope seems to speak out of a theology of man, and so he is right when he says we do not yet have a theology of woman. I suggest the pope might consider using “she” for God half of the time and see where that leads him and his listeners.

Tom O’Connor
Salem, Ore.

No More Monomania

For far too long the Catholic Church has been overemphasizing issues related to sexual morality. These concerns have been used, cynically in my opinion, by financial interests to distract the faithful from turning the same kind of critical gaze to questions of economic morality. The reasons for this are not hard to deduce: our present system of amoral, predatory capitalism cannot hold up under such scrutiny, and the “Mammonists” (as I like to call them) know this full well.

So it is a great relief, and very exciting, to hear the Holy Father finally call the church to account for maintaining this monomaniacal focus for so long.

W. S. Mendler
Honesdale, Pa.

Letter to Francis

Thank you, Francis, for walking in the footsteps of Jesus and making the Gospel come alive once again in my lifetime by simple acts of kindness and love and by speaking out on behalf of the poor. And thank you for your words of challenge to those of us who have more than enough and usually think that we’ve earned it and have a right to do what we want with it, no matter the poor and unfortunate.

I’m 72 years old, and not since Good Pope John have we had a shepherd who speaks such words of comfort and mercy and hope to those of us who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. The scribes and Pharisees are not going to be happy with you, Brother Francis. But I am. I, a fellow sinner, love you

Mike Chew
Stuttgart, Germany

Immediate Steps

The interview, of course, is magnificent, and that this wonderful human being is our pope is beyond wonder. However, I respond to the question about a greater role for women in the church. I have two suggestions that could be implemented when Pope Francis meets with the “Gang of Eight,” his cardinal-advisors.

First, open the ministry of permanent deaconate to women, and second, instate the office of permanent lector for both men and woman with the ministry of proclaiming the Scriptures, followed by exegesis with commentary. Of course, this service to God’s people would require proper and inclusive preparation and the necessary human qualities as advanced by the apostle Paul.

Blessings to the Society of Jesus for providing such a pastor in Papa Francisco.

Elizabeth Lynn, O.S.C.
Minneapolis, Minn.

Leads by Example

The link to this interview should go viral. Pope Francis was so generous to open so genuinely his heart, thoughts and views. Politicians should learn from him: it is the truth that connects hearts. In this time of having to keep our thoughts and words to ourselves, as one could be judged or misquoted, the pope leads, once again by example, with discernment and honesty.

He is the harbinger of a new Catholic Church, and he is the right person to help “heal the wounds.” If I could only be as hopeful about our priests! I hope each one of them will be inspired by the pope’s vision for them, so my young adult children, who I had almost given up hope would return to the Catholic Church of yesteryear, can come home.

Geraldina I. Wise
Houston, Tex.


Astonishing. Refreshing. Com-passionate. Christian. This pope is clearly a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Mary Catherine Fox

As a Jew I read (and will reread) this beautiful interview with delight, amazement, appreciation, awe and deep emotion. Some of it is beyond me. Some is specific to the church. Much of it speaks directly to the heart. I have never felt closer to my Christian brethren. Thanks to all involved.
Liz Rosenberg

I read the interview with a highlighter in hand, and then ran around campus at Jesuit High School (Sacramento) sharing my delight and hope with colleagues and students!
Kelly Schaller Barnes

He fills this wounded but healing divorced Catholic with tears, joy and hope. I am praying for the Spirit to permeate the upcoming gatherings of cardinals and bishops. And I forgive him for loving Wagner.
Jillena Rose

My dilemma is with “what’s next.” If we encounter an openly gay person or an unmarried heterosexual person who may also be actively engaged in a sexual relationship, why does Francis not address or reference the teaching on how to discuss this? It’s as if we are to simply look away and allow others to think it’s OK to engage in that activity. Isn’t this the reason why so many in the church have drifted away from the doctrine we are to follow? Rudy Castro

It seems that Pope Francis is saying that the teachings have not changed, but let’s not talk about them. This is very confusing to faithful Catholics. What are we supposed to say to people about some of these issues?
Barbara Schlumpf

“I am a sinner,” Francis said. “This is not a figure of speech, [nor] a literary genre.” That points so elegantly, and so astutely to the intellectual gumbo constantly being splashed across our eyes; that the world was expecting a witty, glib, innovative sound bite. St. Francis taught us how to reject such desires, and rejoice in the [plain] truth. Pope Francis honors him well.
Heather Bassett

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