Mailbag: I'm glad they chose a Jesuit pope

Viva il Papa! I am not of the Christian faith, yet I take great joy in the election of Francis, primarily because he is a Jesuit. My entire K-12 schooling in the 1940s was at a school in India run by Jesuits from Spain, Portugal, France and India.

It was not a religious school and the students there were from various religions. They were Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Budhists, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, like myself. There was no attempt made to convert anyone to Christianity, but you could not escape the pervasive environment of universal goodness. By example, and through hard work, moral and other values were indelibly inculcated in the student body: honesty, empathy, discipline, a quest for spirituality, a thirst for scholarship and intellectual pursuits, and, most importantly, taking care of the least among us.

And they, the Jesuits, did it all with humility and a self-imposed vow of poverty. In my heart, I have and will always have a fondness and reverence for Christianity, striving for the ideals of my Jesuit teachers. Yes, that makes me an unrepentant "bleeding heart liberal," and I have to thank the Jesuits for that.

Jamshed Dastur

Newport Beach


Costa Mesa pensions

The great city of Costa Mesa is blessed with many self-proclaimed experts fighting each other, struggling very much to convince everyone else that their solutions to the city's problems are the best. This struggle not only dribbles down from City Hall to the homeless in Lyons Park, it also trickles out to pricey, contracted (not always welcome) out-of-town "experts."

At least Costa Mesans acknowledge crisis-level issues. However, without the right questions being asked, it will be difficult to associate questionable dollars with desperately needed common sense (cents). Just one example: CalPERS conservatively estimates the city has a $196 million (and growing) unfunded employee pension liability. This clearly proves Costa Mesa, in no way, can honestly claim a $2.5 million surplus.

Until real money is drawn down and allocated as designated budget, it fails to really exist. But the bills still keep rolling in. How do we pay them? Are bonds the answer? Possibly a "Goat Hill Pyramid" investment-op? Yet, all this fantasy money is burning holes in empty pockets. And future empty pockets. Our pockets.

City Hall simply does not yet have our priorities set. It is aware of this and, as a community, we must have faith in our new council. We elected the members to, at minimum, distinguish commitments we must honor from noncritical luxuries for future consideration.

James H. Bridges

Costa Mesa

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