With an open, even talkative personality and brave vision, Pope Francis has rocked the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church. He seeks a more engaged church, focused more intensely on service to the poor and less intensely on issues like homosexuality and abortion. Will Time magazine’s 2013 person of the year increase his influence beyond the church during the coming year, or will that influence wane as his novelty fades?His influence will not wane!I think his statements about homosexuality and abortion have been misconstrued by many who think he approves and sanctions such practices. Not true, but rather we should be more tolerant and ease up, and focus more intensely on service to the poor, a problem since the beginning of time.In the Book of Matthew, he writes: “The poor you will always have with you.” But that doesn’t mean we should give up and be less intense in helping! — George J. Anthony, Fort WorthNot being a Catholic, perhaps I have little right to comment.But it appears that the pope is trying to convince his followers that he is just a human being without the smugness and self-righteousness of one elected to a high post.He’s correct about what’s important. In the Bible, Jesus came not to judge. Paul does express condemnation for homosexual acts but does not condemn the individual.If the only perfect person to ever live offered no condemnation, who are we humans to judge? It is meaningless to forever debate the right or wrong of human DNA. I think this pope is on the right track. — Grady Fuller, KennedaleAs a lapsed Catholic of long standing, I can tell you that Pope Francis represents what the Catholic Church should be.But he is up against an entrenched and privileged bureaucracy that will oppose him at every step.All Catholics are “cafeteria Catholics,” observing rules they like and ignoring those they don’t.The pope is popular with almost all Catholics, except those who approve only of the very conservative interpretations of doctrine, and with many non-Catholics and non-Christians.That is fine as far as it goes, but it will take removing the mossbacks and foot-draggers from key positions in the church and consistently replacing them with younger, more liberal, activist-minded clergy to have any lasting effect. — Paul R. Schattman, ArlingtonThe pope can do one thing: Distribute all the gold in the Vatican to all the destitute people of Catholic belief in Ireland, Mexico, South America, Italy, France, etc., who were robbed by their churches for years. — Derek Sidwell, Fort WorthWe had the honor of an audience with Pope Francis on Oct. 2 at the Vatican. What an awesome experience! You could tell that, without trying, his influence has gone far beyond the church. Every religion was represented, from Catholics to Muslims. He is not a “novelty.” He is a humble man who loves and wants the best for all people, and is working to see it happen. He loves people. He was grabbing hands, hugging people, kissing babies and smiling the entire time. When he spoke, everyone was quiet and listened.It is hard to put into words what we saw and heard. We will return to Rome and look forward to seeing and listening to him again. — Joanne Hice, North Richland HillsHumble Pope Francis is demonstrating Christ’s message of love, peace, justice and reconciliation. He is inspiring us to follow. — Jean Crane, Fort WorthPope Francis makes Jesus Christ present by doing good for others.The world would be a better place if we all sought to live a life of virtue through grace from God.The church has not changed her teaching that homosexual behavior and abortion are evil. The church also teaches that pornography and drunkenness are evil behaviors.Since abortion was mentioned in the question soliciting responses to All Points, why don’t we see pictures in the newspaper of unborn babies who die every day from abortion? Why don’t these little ones get the same treatment of being pictured upon their deaths as do the people in the Star-Telegram’s obituaries? The future is known by God alone, so I will humble myself to not predict what God has planned for Pope Francis.Love one another. — Deborah Fleischmann, Fort WorthPope Francis is revered worldwide by his followers and even by those who practice other faiths.He’s the most gregarious and touchable pope ever.His commitment to his faith and interaction with his parishioners and particularly with children serve as the best evidence that the Catholic Church is transcending and modernizing without compromising its teachings.The pope’s philosophy and take on subjects such as homosexuality and abortion can best be summed up by his declaration: “Who am I to judge?”It resonates with the people and says that there are far more important matters, such as poverty and hunger, to concentrate on. — Sharon Barrow, Fort WorthPope Francis was quoted as saying “Who am I to judge?” in regard to homosexuals. As a priest, he was correct because Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)He failed to quote John 5:22, in which Jesus also says, “The Father has given all judgment to the Son.” Christians will be judged for rewards in I Corinthians 3:10-15 and II Corinthians 5:10 at the judgment seat of Christ.Unbelievers will be judged at the great white throne (Revelation 20:11-15) to check if their name is in the “book of life.”If not, their guilty consciences will condemn them to eternal judgment. We are all accountable to God for how we choose to live because he has given the Bible to show us the way. — Jim Schierling, HurstPope Francis has been a living panacea for his multitude of followers.With his blessings, forgiveness and truly being a “people’s pope,” he’ll convert many people to join or rejoin the Catholic Church.The pope’s message of faith reverberates worldwide. He’s amicable, loves children and mixes with the crowds wherever he goes.He’s earned the trust of people and is well suited for his Time magazine 2013 person of the year designation.This title and his continuing efforts to assist the poor, hungry and disenfranchised will increase his worldly influence, which will prevail. — Cynthia Sseketto, Fort WorthI’m pleased to learn that the pope must be a Democrat, judging by his concern about the distribution of wealth in the world.He is preaching what Jesus taught and what Democrats have espoused since the Great Depression. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.Yet Republicans, instead of cutting out loopholes for the rich to balance the budget, cut food stamps and don't want to raise the minimum wage or extend unemployment benefits. — Jack Vaughan, Arlington
All Points each Monday features reader responses to a question posed by the Editorial Board. With each week’s responses comes the next week’s question. All Points responses are not counted toward the monthly limit of one letter to the editor from each writer. Readers are welcome to send their own ideas for All Points topics to Editorial Director Mike Norman, firstname.lastname@example.org.