Salvation a gift only God can grant

Re: “Pope: Ancient heresy plagues modern Church” (News Analysis, Feb. 23).

Thank you for the reminder from Pope Francis that our salvation and every good work that flows from it are the fruit of God’s grace, not our willpower. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

As we labor to be salt and light in the midst of a culture of death and moral relativism, we must guard against the tendency to aim only at the moral reform of society while bypassing the cross of Christ. Changing laws without changing hearts will not transform society. Only Christ can supernaturally transform our hearts so that we understand and love God’s will and are able to obey it. Society will change as the individuals within it change. Only God can accomplish that. That is why prayer, penance and proclamation of the Gospel are the most powerful means of reforming the Church and transforming our culture.

Margaret Meyer, Jacksonville, Fla.

Defending the Church

Re: “A catechetical response to same-sex marriage” (News Analysis, Feb. 16).

May I say most emphatically: John Cavadini does a wonderful job of stating the Church’s position on same-sex marriage. Clear and convincing, but falling on deaf ears in too many cases.

I was saddened by the picture that showed Catholic high school students in Seattle showing signs of support for the school’s former vice principal. What kind of misguided reasoning could have prompted that rally? At least the vice principal had the good sense to resign after marrying his same-sex partner.

I am sometimes numbed by the strident voices of open defiance within the Church. Thank you for defending the Church and soothing my heart.

Luke Nover, Location withheld

Jesus’ teachings

I was very disappointed in John Cavadini’s article. I am certainly no expert in Catholic dogma. However, I believe in Christ’s recorded teachings that he created us male and female and God will only join together a male and a female. These teachings, I believe, are clearly presented in Mt 19:4-6 and Mk 10:6-9. Unfortunately Cavadini never mentions these recorded teachings of Christ.

I would assume that for any Christian who would oppose these marital teachings of Christ, it would be akin to opposing one of God’s Ten Commandments. Although Jesus is mainly a loving God, he also is a demanding God.

Walter McLaughlin, New City, N.Y.

Poor headline

Re: “Church strikes back” (Cover, Feb. 23).

It is ironic that the main headline on Feb. 23 was “Church Strikes Back” when in the Gospel reading for that very morning we heard Jesus say:

“But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well” (Mt 5:39).

To see a headline from a trusted Catholic newspaper that contradicted the Gospel, especially for the day, was disheartening.

Who can I trust for the proper interpretation of the news if not you?

Judith Reid, Via email

Catechism endures

Re: “Let’s return to old favorite for catechesis” (Letters to the Editor, Nov. 24, 2013).

Many thanks to Marion Smyth for her use of the Baltimore Catechism! I remember in attending parochial school that this book was the sole and enduring religion book utilized!

I still have my Baltimore Catechism — many loose pages, but never lost. I ordered four of these catechisms for my grandchildren and I feel blessed that they are available! This information will never be outdated due to extrapolation from biblical truths! A treasure indeed!

Anne M. Mattei, Beaver, Pa.