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"The Pope and American Catholics" cover story [April 7-14] was indeed interesting and thorough, touching on many hot-button issues facing the church today.

But Catholic doctrine is not determined by the opinion of the laity. Even if 99 percent of Catholics disagree with the concept of a male priesthood, the church's original position stands. The truth revealed by Jesus Christ to the apostles, spiritual ancestors of today's bishops, is as valid now as it was 2,000 years ago.

Catherine N. Dillon


Manhasset, N.Y.  

Your table of "Catholic Attitudes" tells us a lot about Catholics. In most categories, the attitudes are a report card on bishops and pastors. They, for the most part, get flunking grades. It is a wake-up call for the pope and his bishops.

Anthony Lutz


Vienna, Va.  

Your cover story about "The Pope and American Catholics" asks, "can he calm his troubled flock?" When I read this, I smiled. Do we need calming, or, rather, does our country need energy and faith to shake us from our apathy? Pope Benedict xvi reminds us of the need for hope in his encyclical ("Spe Salvi"). At the same time, there is an undercurrent of serious Catholicism spreading throughout our country. The short piece on Christendom College opened only a small window into this younger generation of Catholic Ameri-cans. Dubbed the "John Paul II generation," we were lucky enough to have been born during that papacy and now have the rich fortune of maturing with the wisdom of this current pope as well.

J. Michelle Datiles


Washington, D.C.  

As a lifelong Catholic, daily mass attendant, and amateur historian, I found "Catholics at a Crossroads" of some interest. However, after a cursory review of church history, I did not become excited. The church somehow got past the Crucifixion, Diocletian, Attila, Julian the Apostate, Pope Gregory vii's hiding at Canossa, and the martyrdom of Thomas à Beckett, and managed to survive the Protestant Reformation. In fact, has there been a moment in church history when some crisis did not loom on the horizon? I feel I can rest comfortably on my beliefs as I have for more than 80 years. After all, the Crucifixion happened about 2,000 years ago, and the church seems as alive as it ever has been. I will be able to glide to my rest unperturbed.

Stewart Lyons


St. Johns, Ariz.  

I am not a Catholic but understand that the pope is considered by Catholics to be the vicar of Christ on Earth. That being the case, "what would Jesus say" about the pope's regalia pictured in your cover story?

Donald Schultz


Pine Mountain, Ga.  

Your story stated that the de-cision to not involve lay Eucharistic ministers at the Yankee Stadium mass further disconnects the pope from the American church. I respectfully disagree. Eucharistic ministers are "extraordinary" ministers of the Eucharist and are utilized when ordained priests and deacons are not available or are too few in number. With hundreds of priests and deacons participating in the papal mass at Yankee Stadium, there simply is no need for lay ministers on that specific date and in that specific venue.

Daria A. Jerauld


Denver, Iowa