A NEEDED SHOCK

Hell hath no fury like conservatives marginalized: First Ross Douthat darkly speculating about Pope Francis’s “plots” in the New York Times, now Christopher Ruddy brimming with raw hostility to this liberal pope (“Unforced Errors?” November 13). As with the Pharisees raging at Jesus, the more Christ-like Francis’s words and deeds are, the more outrage pours from conservatives.

Let me comment on a few points in Ruddy’s essay. Francis’s “relentless, sometimes daily condemnation of unnamed-yet-easily-surmised ‘doctors of the law’” is actually a not so distant echo of Jesus’ harsh language condemning the Pharisees, who also acted in good faith, upholding the law and tradition in the placid assumption that they were the measure of all things. As the late Marcel Lefebvre once said, “We are right.” Jesus’ words were a needed shock to a complacent system. So are Francis’s.

Also, is Ruddy aware that John Paul II read his breviary during sessions of the 1994 synod, clearly expressing his indifference, if not contempt, for the bishops and the results of Vatican II, and that he packed the episcopate with like-minded bishops?

For the past thirty-five years or so the nebulous “spirit of Vatican II” was stifled. Under Francis we have begun to recover that spirit, above all through his emphasis on openness and collegiality.

Peter Farley
Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

ENABLING EXTREMISTS

Ignorance almost always benefits the status quo. In view of Vanni Cappelli’s article “False Friends” (December 4), to say nothing of other sources, we do have enough information to make an intelligent judgment about the results of U.S. foreign policy—and it should lead us to challenge our current relationship with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It seems to me that Cappelli lays out the facts clearly, explaining how longstanding United States support for these countries, despite many warnings from policy experts, has contributed to the rise of extremism. He makes a good point, again supported by facts, that short-sighted foreign-policy goals (cheap oil and influence in the Indian subcontinent) have been counter-productive, if not antagonistic toward the United States What was news to me was the reason the Saudi and Pakistani governments and militaries support the extremists: to keep a check on political reforms that would actually benefit the people. I am dismayed most presidential candidates do not acknowledge this as the root of the ongoing problems in the region. Ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, while encouraging broad-based economic development in the Middle East, seems like an appropriate policy recommendation.

Michael Miehl
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Published in the December 18, 2015 issue: 
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