Pope and Change

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Pope and Change
Re "A Pope for the Poor" [July 29]: For so many struggling Catholics who have been yearning for reform and renewal, Pope Francis embodies our collective aspiration for a better church: a church that stands up for the oppressed, looks after the least among us, goes out to the outskirts, is of the poor and for the poor. The old ways of privilege and entitlement of priests and bishops are now gone. The Pope no longer resides at the Apostolic Palace, rides in fancy limousines or wears expensive vestments. There's no going back to a church that's detached from the people. Indeed, a new dawn has come to so many Catholics.
Gelan Sanchez Talledo,
Bacolod City, The Philippines

While The People's Pope pontificates on "The Globalization of Indifference," the princes of the church and the nuncios and bishops lead comfortable lives in their well-appointed homes and mansions. Many of them have their own chauffeurs, cooks and servants to take care of their everyday needs. These same Catholic prelates then go on to heap praise on the Pope for reverting to the spirit of poverty. They applaud him for denouncing indifference while they themselves live like lords!
John Guillaumier,
St. Julian's, Malta

Word Is Bond
Re "The Power of the Bilingual Brain" [July 29]: As a natural-born translator, I'm sure that by learning two or more languages you not only potentially improve your intelligence, but in dealing with various other cultures you are less likely to be bigoted or xenophobic. The more polyglot we become, the better it will also be for international peace and understanding.
Alan Benson,

One Nation Under Gun
Re "After Trayvon" [July 29]: Even the most learned commentators ignore what is blindingly obvious. George Zimmerman had a loaded handgun in his pocket, and it was perfectly legal for him to do so. In all other civilized Western nations it would be illegal, and to disobey the law would lead to very severe punishment. It is very sad to know that there are going to be many more tragedies like this simply because the U.S. insists on clinging to its ancient and totally inappropriate gun laws.
John Evett,
Guernsey, Channel Islands

Compromise in Egypt
Re "Street Rule" [July 22]: Democracy can work, but only when sufficient numbers of politicians and electorate exhibit grace, forgiveness and self-sacrifice — particularly when opinions and expectations differ radically. Such was evidenced by the U.S. rebuilding of war-devastated European economies via the Marshall Plan; by Tutu, Mandela and de Klerk in ending apartheid in South Africa; by Walesa and Mazowiecki in ending communism in Poland.
Mike Dabrowski,

Buddhism in Thailand
Re "When Buddhists Go Bad" [July 1]: I deeply regret that you have allowed your respected magazine to serve as a platform for fueling religious hatred and inflaming conflict. The presence of soldiers and police in Thailand's southern border provinces, especially where people congregate or at places that may be targeted for acts of violence by instigators — temples, schools, administrative buildings or markets — is for the purpose of providing security to people regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Even though many Buddhist monks have been killed and injured, the Buddhist clergy has neither taken up arms nor called for retaliation against the perpetrators. Thai Buddhists continue to uphold the principle of nonviolence and tolerance. The Thai constitution also guarantees religious freedom and respects all faiths. The southern unrest is a complex problem caused by various factors, including social and economic inequalities as well as ethnic and historical issues that need long-term commitment to resolve. The government is prepared to listen, address grievances and consider recommendations from any individual or party provided that they are expressed in a peaceful manner.
Manasvi Srisodapol, Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Editor's note: TIME stands by its story.