Cardinal is correct about need for apologetics

Re: “Cardinal Dolan: No Church without Christ” (News Analysis, Sept. 22)

During a recent speech in Milwaukee, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York pointed out that people don’t see the connection between Christ and his Church. One of the ways he proposed to resolve this serious problem was a renewed emphasis on apologetics, “the art of compellingly and convincingly defending our faith.” He stated: “Having a solid foundation of apologetics will allow Catholics to adequately answer questions and survive the irrational attacks on the Faith that proliferate from every direction today. We need apologetics now more than ever.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Cardinal Dolan’s remarks. For the past 50 years, apologetics has, for the most part, been absent from our religious education programs. As a result, many Catholics have left the Church because we’ve failed to provide them with cogent reasons for the Church’s teachings.

I am very grateful to Cardinal Dolan for pointing out the urgent need for apologetics. I suggest that a basic course in apologetics be an essential part of preparation for the sacrament of confirmation. I urge all bishops, pastors and religious education directors to provide apologetics courses in their dioceses, parishes and high school programs so that the intellectual needs of all Catholics will be met.

Gerry Stafford, Lockport, N.Y.

Prayer and mercy

Re: “Nine truths about purgatory” (In Focus, Sept. 29).

What Father Dwight Longenecker and Friar John Clote said about purgatory was so right on. But I would like to add this:

I was living in Brooklyn, N.Y. and was 7 years old. The nightly news with John Tillman on Channel 11 was what my mom watched while waiting for my dad to come home from work.

As I passed by the television screen, the story was about many “bums in the Bowery” and how someone was giving these poor souls wood alcohol and killing them. My heart broke for them, and I have been praying for these souls and many more since. I am now 65 years old.

God touched a child, knowing I would pray always for them. Yes, purgatory should be at the top of our list. It’s all part of mercy and compassion, and God is at the top when it comes to that.

Winifred Young, Port Monmouth, N.J.

Forget about purgatory

Re: “Nine truths about purgatory” (In Focus, Sept. 29).

The only thing that could have made the article less believable would have been to have the 10 “truths” about purgatory. The positions seemed fabricated out of thin air.

Some label purgatory “the forgotten doctrine” and for good reason. Please do forget it permanently. 

The Church generally defends itself effectively, but not in this case. It has no credibility with me, and I am probably typical of practicing Catholics.

Dave Haas, Goodfield, Ill.

Model for humility

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

Much has been written about Pope Francis in his short reign.

Leonard Pitts Jr., a columnist for the Miami Herald, has written the most compelling opinion I have read. In a Sept. 24 column, he states that what’s noteworthy about the new pope’s humility is that it should be considered newsworthy at all.

Pitts continues: “We should ask what it tells us that a pope that models humility, inclusion, unpretentiousness, concern for the poor and nonjudgmental ... and people are surprised.”

We are forced to ask ourselves as we have taken up a cudgel, lone overdue, against the ills of society whether we have exercised the spirit of Christ, with love, compassion and without judgment. Have we closed the divide between God’s children, or, like Pharisees, created a larger one?

It has also been my concern that religious media, and other Catholic organizations, now armed with new and powerful tools of communication — and driven by a need and ability to protest the sins of society — have sometimes delivered a message missing the Spirit and intent of Christ.

How blessed we are to have the gift of Pope Francis who models Christ’s message in words and actions.

Mary Ann Dorsett, Des Moines, Iowa

U.N. is not just

“Syria through the lens of Church’s just war tradition” (News Analysis, Oct. 6)

I was wondering if the theoreticians of the just war theory ever consider the member makeup of the United Nations, which they consider a legitimate, legal body for peace. The United Nations has about 200 members, of which about 10 are “democracies.” It would be nice if there were a U.N. of democracies.

Syria is a neighbor of Israel, and Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Christians have just about been driven out of Middle Eastern Muslim nations. Vladimir Putin is no friend of the West. What’s so just?

L. Curley, Dearborn, Mich.

40 Days for Life

“Just in time for October, respect for life making headlines” (Openers, Oct. 6).

Perhaps you do already, but if you don’t, please inform readers of the 40 Days for Life in the fall and the spring. It is in more than 300 locations worldwide. The fall campaign runs through Nov. 5.

Joe Pelaez, via email