Pope Francis predictable in his words, deeds

Re: “Interview reveals discerning, transparent pontiff” (News Analysis, Oct. 6).

Pope Francis seems to be a media “hot topic” with every word he speaks. Everyone tries to analyze everything he says then fit it to their own issues one way or another. Most wonder what he will say or do next. I think Pope Francis is very predictable and transparent in his works, his actions and his deeds, and I believe he read the book of instructions and is very familiar with its content — the Bible.

Two thousand years ago, there was another radical newcomer who went against the establishment. He spoke of loving even our enemies and saying things like, “It is better to show mercy than to make sacrifices!” Love was his weapon to make believers as he reached out and touched his faithful personally to impart his Father’s love. Jesus loved us very much and taught us to remove the beam from our own eye so we could better understand the problems of others.

Pope Francis’ methods are not new; he simply follows our Lord as Peter, Andrew, James and John and the others did when Jesus said to them, “Come follow me!” All of our social issues and cutting concerns are important to our pope, but they do not take precedence over loving God. A long time ago Pope Francis placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ and now he asks us, too, to consider God first as our solution.

Les Johnson, Akron, Ohio 

Problematic remarks

Re: “Interview reveals discerning, transparent pontiff” (News Analysis, Oct. 6).

I have great concerns with what Pope Francis is saying at times and also in how our Church leaders and Catholic media are reacting to his remarks. They are not addressing the totality of what he is saying. As an illustration of my concerns, I am including three of the pope’s statements from his interview that appeared in America magazine: “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time ...” (referencing abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods); “The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently”; “The Church sometimes has locked itself in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

Referencing the first two quotes, there is significant confusion among Catholics on topics such as in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem-cell research and contraception. The Church needs to explain these complex issues, the reasons for its positions on them and as often as needed. The third quote could be interpreted to mean that we are saved — no matter our beliefs or what we do.

We should never forget that our absolute devotion and allegiance are to God only and that all Catholics must be in support of his truths and the propagation of these truths. If not, souls will be lost.

Michael P. Smyth, Finksburg, Md.

Poor defense

It was painful, sad and scandalous to read a selectively worded defense of the death penalty penned by a Catholic priest (Letters to the Editor, Oct. 6). Father John Lewandowski cited only a part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to underwrite the morality of the death penalty. Had he cited just one section further, No. 2267, OSV readers might also have weighed the following:

“[T]he traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty IF [emphasis mine] this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives. ... If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as they are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.”

Life in prison is a demonstrably sufficient means to render the death penalty beyond the scope of what the Church considers just and moral.

I have been in prison for 19 years. I am well aware that the U.S. justice system offers no assurances against wrongful convictions. The hundreds of DNA exonerations nationwide over the last decade should make any American, certainly any Catholic, wary of capital punishment.

Father Gordon J. MacRae, Concord, N.H.

Pregnancy center looks

Re: “For crisis pregnancy centers, looks matter” (News Analysis, Oct. 6).

I would like to point out that the mission of a pregnancy support service and Planned Parenthood are quite the opposite. Planned Parenthood sets an atmosphere to dehumanize the unborn child and to intimidate the woman seeking abortion.

Pregnancy resource centers offer an atmosphere of comfort and love. The pregnancy support service recognizes and honors the inherent dignity of the woman and her unborn child.

When our pregnancy support service was founded we knew we were offering women in our community a very different message and very different alternative to Planned Parenthood. I am not so sure of the wisdom of trying to look and feel much the same as the local Planned Parenthood!

Colleen, via email