Friday, April 01, 2005

A mix of emotions...

The Pope of (my) the Roman Catholic Church is about to die. It is certainly a major event, and one that fills me with both sadness and frustration.
I am sad because he achieved much during his tenure. He helped bring the fall of Communism and the Soviet Union. He confronted Fidel Castro. In Cuba. He chastised George W. Bush and Tony Blair over the war in Iraq, to their faces. He traveled more than any other pope, met with more common people than any other pope, and healed the divisions with other religions by visiting mosques and synagogues.
At the same time, the sex scandal broke on his watch, and when the American Conference of Bishops tried to institute a very tough punishment to those who committed the abuses and make their policy towards such actions a "one-strike" policy, the Pope rejected it as unfair to priests. It's unknown how long ago he knew about these actions, but he acted poorly towards it. He only tossed the worst Archbishop over the side, Cardinal Bernard Law.
As well, he has not let American Catholics follow their consciences on issues such as abortion or euthanasia, being particularly harsh on these issues. He has restricted women's roles in the church and ended the vow of chastity, an issue that has created a surge of priestly vacancies that make it harder on parishes. Attendance is down, and people are leaving Catholicism.
It's an interesting paradox, and one that is in a sense almost like George H.W. Bush's presidency. Pope John Paul II did so much for the world, did so much to change it for the better, yet did not do such a good job caring for his own flock, especially in the past ten years. The next pope won't have the stature of John Paul II worldwide, but maybe that would be better, as it would allow the next pope to focus on the divisions within Catholicism, and make the repairs necessary for it to thrive. Those repairs will be tackled in another post later.


Anonymous Agitprop said...

As a non-practicing Catholic, quasi-agnostic, who endured 12 years of Catholic education, I agree with you. His legacy is mixed. The next pope has a lot of bureaucratic challenges to face. The thing that really bothers me is his opposition to birth control while millions of Africans are dying of AIDS. He's the only pope I've ever known so it will be interesting to see who replaces him.


10:52 AM  

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