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Habemus Papam Franciscum: Aargentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will be known as Francis. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)
Habemus Papam Franciscum: Aargentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will be known as Francis. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)

What readers think

March 14: Big-C, small-c catholic, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Big-C, small-c catholic

Pope Francis embodies the simplicity and humility characteristic of St. Francis. He is detached from worldly goods: no chauffeur, cooks on his own, lives in a simple apartment. His simple words on the balcony of St. Peter’s suggest he is not only a holy man, but one who will show that the Catholic Church can once again be a force for today – and for tomorrow.

Kevin Pettit, Toronto

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It may have been prophetic that during the papal conclave, a bird stood on top of the chimney not long before it spewed white smoke. The bird may have “announced” the new Pope, who chose the name “Francis” – in recognition of St. Francis – a patron saint of animals. In Fioretti, a compendium of legends and folklore, there is a story that he actually preached to the birds. He was humble, peaceful and charitable. What an apt name for a new Pope; what a scoop for the bird!

Bohdan Shulakewych, Toronto

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John Cornwell’s assertion regarding the “crucial taboo” against criticizing the Holy Father is not entirely reflective of contemporary Catholic thought, to say the very least (A Pope For The Church, A Pope For The World – March 12). While fully cognizant of, and profoundly thankful for, the fundamental message and mission of the Church, I am more than prepared to accept the many fallabilities of man and woman; mine, yours, and the Pope’s.

Contrary to Mr. Cornwell’s startlingly sweeping statement that “every Catholic knows he [the Pope] remains their best and only option for future unity,” I and many other Catholics seek to chart a course that fully and lovingly includes our mothers, sisters, and daughters, gay and lesbian Catholics, and conscientious Catholics who take responsible steps not to start human lives they are not prepared to honour. This robust yet underestimated community of conviction is also quite open to considering marriage for our priests, male and soon, we hope, female.

I pray and advocate for a truly catholic Catholic Church. Whether the new Pope leads or follows in this regard remains to be seen.

J. Thomas Hogan, Toronto

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Understanding Islam

Suhail Kapoor, in his book Islam: Balancing Life and Beyond, got it wrong (Wynne Stands By Minister In Controversy Over Book Condoning Violence Against Women – March 12).

Mr. Kapoor interpreted the Arabic word dharab in Verse 4:34 as “to beat,” giving men authority to beat their wives, as he indicates, “lightly.” (“Lightly” makes no difference. Who cares!) Modern feminist Islamic scholars, like Laleh Bakhtiar, use the alternative meaning of dharab in Arabic: “to separate,” making a non-violent Verse 4:34 a reality.

Numerous Muslim organizations now use the non–violent interpretation in Canada. It is also found in Muslims for Progressive Values’ Recommended Guidelines to Khateebs (who provide Friday sermons), located on our MPV website. Online, it is not hard to find the non-violent interpretation (at www.quranix.org – three of five translations apply it).

Shahla Khan Salter, chair, Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) Ummah Canada

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Chrétien on stage

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien says Canada has lost some of its international stature (Canada Has Lost Stature, Chrétien Says – March 13). This coming from someone who recently joined Raul Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in attending Hugo Chavez’s funeral?

Joseph Adler, Toronto

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How refreshing to see pictures of Jean Chrétien arriving at Hugo Chavez’s funeral in a small truck. Had our present Prime Minister attended, he probably would have had his armoured limo and $20-million security team flown in for the occasion.

Douglas Loewen, Alliston, Ont.

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Love/evol

Some of Ron Paul’s associations and viewpoints, past and present, may seem shocking (Not-So-Nice Guy – letters, March 12), but his discourse on foreign policy – which can be summarized by “you can’t spread goodness through the barrel of a gun” – has wide appeal and cuts across deep political divides.

Most of the planet would agree with his view that America should not interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of other nations. He claims interventionist foreign policy is bankrupting America and turning the world against its citizens. He rejects pre-emptive war, the U.S. as world cop, and asserts that his country must obey human-rights treaties and accept elections abroad.

As for the label “ardent conspiracist,” there does appear to be a sinister message hidden away in the campaign slogan and book title Ron Paul Revolution: the word “love” spelled backward.

Roger Barany, Vancouver

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Green schemes

Margaret Wente only looks at part of the story in criticizing the carbon-neutral requirements for B.C.’s public sector (B.C.’s Loony Green Scheme – March 12). Take the University of British Columbia as an example. Ms. Wente mentions the $1.5-million the university paid for carbon offsets, but is silent on the $88-million it is investing in a new heating system to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs. It was the university’s desire to spend less on energy, carbon offsets and carbon tax that made the business case for this project.

That’s not to say the carbon-neutral requirements don’t have challenges. Concerns have been raised about the transparency of the Pacific Carbon Trust, the quality of offset projects and the adequacy of government investment in the public sector. A constructive conversation about how to address those concerns would improve the carbon-neutral requirements and ultimately encourage more investment in clean energy.

Matt Horne, Climate Change Program Director, Pembina Institute, Vancouver

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Every year, B.C. exports millions of tons of coal that are in turn burned by other jurisdictions. The resulting GHGs don’t appear on B.C.’s carbon emissions. It’s like drug trafficking, and ever-virtuous B.C. is as complicit as you can get.

Brian Nimeroski, Sooke, B.C.

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Er, can’t comment

Re Ahmadinejad Draws Ire For Taboo Hug (March 13): Oops, apparently senior Iranian clerics have scolded President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for consoling Hugo Chavez’s mother with a hug – a physical contact considered a sin under strict Islamic codes. Unfortunately, before I can comment further, I would like to hear former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson’s version of this event (Ford Airs Attack On Accuser – March 11).

David Honigsberg, Toronto

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