In "Pope Francis in America" [News, Aug. 25], one Sayville resident commented that the pope's decision to place his authority behind certain positions on the environment and on the economy is "a very dangerous idea," because these are things that are beyond the competence of the church.

I disagree. The social justice teaching of the church has a rich history going back to the end of the 19th century. This has been affirmed by every modern pope and is rooted in the teachings of Jesus and the prophets. How could the pope's positions on the moral implications of our environmental and economic policies be beyond the church's competence given this long-standing tradition?

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I do agree, however, that the pope's positions are indeed very dangerous. Were the majority of Catholics to take them to heart, it would be much harder, if not impossible, to embrace capitalism and all of its consequences as lustily and uncritically as we do.

Jim Philipps, Syosset