Pope and Change

The utter goodness and humanity showing through the new Pope’s benevolent eyes and words bode well for the future of the Roman Catholic Church [Pope of the Americas, March 25]. But let us not be misled by the kindness of Pope Francis’ heart, for we are hoping he’ll be able to propel the momentous reforms required in the 21st century. However, one certainty remains: though presently run with all the frailties illustrative of the human condition, the church has withstood all sorts of controversies, disputes and schisms for over 2,000 years, and it still persists. Tell me this is not proof enough of divine purpose!
Teresa de Mello e Almeida, LISBON

The author shouldn’t be too admiring in recounting that the Vatican has withstood the likes of Attila the Hun and Hitler. The Vatican made accommodations with Hitler and Mussolini during World War II that cost lives beyond count. This stain on the Roman Catholic Church has never been admitted nor atonement made. Why? Because the church has too much money and is too well politically connected. Concomitantly, Vatican history may just as conveniently omit years of child sexual abuse it has knowingly turned a blind eye to.

To freely give up a position of power — as Benedict XVI did — is an act of humility rarely seen in political figures today. The fact that the Pope emeritus is succeeded by a Cardinal who rides the subway like the best of us is an encouraging sign. The next few months and years of his pontificate should be interesting.

The new Pope has warned that if the Roman Catholic Church does not change, it risks becoming just a charity. If that happens it would be marvelous, because the church could move to rid itself of all dogma and ritual. Isn’t it time the Vatican got rid of such childish behaviour — like blowing smoke up a chimney — that has nothing whatsoever in common with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth?

Chávez’s Legacy
Re “Chávez’s Grand Illusions” [March 25]: Despite the fact that Latin America has enjoyed a period of growth and stability, no other country in the region has achieved the monumental reduction in poverty that Venezuela has. It strikes me that Jorge Castañeda dedicates only one line to Hugo Chávez’s greatest achievement; restoring a sense of dignity to Venezuelans has to be worth more than $1 trillion. Dignity and pride are often more effective catalysts of change. Other countries would benefit from learning that lesson.
Arturo Michel, LONDON

Arab Spring in Iraq?
It appears, as a journalist formerly in Iraq, Bobby Ghosh believes what he chooses to believe [Saddam Hussein Would Have Survived the Arab Spring, March 25]. The apologetic commentary that Saddam would’ve survived the Arab Spring is purely hypothetical. No one could have predicted the force of the movement. The last two paragraphs are also unbelievably cynical, concluding that by opposing Saddam themselves, Iraqis would be plunged into “a long, bloody rebellion that devolves into a sectarian war.” So what were the past 10 years, then?

A Head Start in Careers
Re “The Dream Factories” [March 25]: The story raises a pertinent and timely question: “Is start-up school a shortcut to high-tech success?” My answer is a definite yes. With the explosive growth of new knowledge and fields out there in the world, students have to specialize early. I believe those who have mastered the basic competencies in language, math and sciences after high school should enroll in a specific program of their interest immediately. An intensive, three-to-four-year program would better prepare students for specific, targeted jobs upon graduation.
Venze Chern, SINGAPORE

Working Women
Re “Confidence Woman” [March 18]: Has Sheryl Sandberg ever considered why there are two sexes? Their roles and aspirations are supposed to be different — it’s called compensation and equilibrium. Imagine a world where everyone wants to lead and lean in. What does Sandberg propose next, male childbearing?
Gina della Bosca, GENOA, ITALY

I agree with Sandberg that women pull back in their careers instead of leaning in, and that at times they are their worst enemies. On the other hand, I disagree with her definition of what constitutes the workforce. In fact, as a housewife, I believe what I do is as important as her job, if not more so. I don’t have wages, but I think I’m part of the workforce myself. Sandberg even says she takes advantage of her sister’s kindness to take care of her children, when she and her husband have an appointment. As I have observed throughout my life, everybody — even wealthy people — needs help from those who don’t count for employment statistics.
Angeles Fernández García, SEVILLE, SPAIN

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