Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, April 01, 2005

John Paul's Legacy?

Hi Everyone,

All joking aside, the breaking news today seems to be that the Pope is near death. "Grave Condition" is the term being used and Papal spokesmen are breaking down in tears at press conferences.

In the next week or so we are going to be buried in hour long specials on CNN, MSNBC etc about the legacy of this Pope. Who are we to blow against the wind?

What do we think his legacy is? In the Church? Religiously? Politically?


Rolleroid said...

As a Catholic myself, I am conflicted. On the one hand I admire John Paull II for attempting to find common ground between the Catholic Church as a whole and other faiths.
However, I continue to be frustrated with the Church (with the Pope's insistence) continuing to adhere to relics of the past (priests inability to marry, etc.) At a church that my wife and I attended in New York, the Monsignor of the parish (a Jesuit) was what I considered a model of what the church should aspire to be on the ground level. Rooted in the Catholic faith to be sure, but cognizant of the realities of 21st century life: the use of birth control, a couple living together before marriage, etc. Basically, an emphasis on LOVE as the central focus of the Catholic faith.
Sadly, due to the increasingly conservative pronouncements from Rome, the monsignor is an exception. More often, these pronouncements create a body of priests similar to the one who married my sister and her husband in Iowa - he threatened NOT to marry them because they were not planning to have children right away.
What has resulted is a Catholic church that preaches global community building, but "where the rubber meets the road" at the parish level, I think more and more people feel estranged from what we once were taught is a loving church.
I am extremely interested in how the church will follow JP II. I find myself leaning toward a caretaker Pope (less than 5, 6 years) to allow the church to take stock of the effect that JP II has had over the past quarter century.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think this Pope's legacy will be grossly misunderstood and sugar coated.

He will be given enormous credit for opposing Communism. But did he do this out of a love of liberty? Arguably Regan did (and I'd be inclined to believe that Regan was sincere). NO! John Paul II's actions with regard to Church doctrine show how little he loves liberty. John Paul II opposed Communism because it was atheist, not becuase it was oppressive.

John Paul II's opposition to Communism shows that even a busted clock is right twice a day.

His out reach programs to other faiths are interesting. I think it is possible for example that in the last decade, John Paul II had a bigger reputation (because of his doctrinaire conservatism) with conservative evangelical Protestants in the USA than with American Catholics. I think that real possibility is fascinating with regard to the legacy of this Pope. But is it because the Catholic Church is becoming more open to Protestants or because American Protestants are becoming more doctrinal?

US West said...

As a Catholic, I agree with Rolleroid. The attitidues of many Catholics about the Pope are wrapped up in layers of deeply personal feelings about the Church itself and our individual experiences of it. I have a deep respect and admiration of the man who became Pope John Paul II. He was not devoid of life experiences. And regardless of what anyone thinks, his life is an impressive journey to contemplate.

I grew up learning that the beauty of the Catholic faith was its emphasis on God given freedom. We were told that the Church was our guide and it was up to us as freethinking people to find our own way. As a guide, it was effective in instilling morality and a thoughtful, almost analytical, approach to tackling life's ethical and moral questions. My Catholic School education, although difficult at times, prepared me well as a student and a human being. I begrudge it not.

Once the Wall came down in 1989, however, things began to change. I noticed a marked difference, a new kind of sternness. Suddenly, we went from being children of a God who loved us as a father to sinners who were fortunate that we were not yet smote.

Sermons went from interesting thoughts on biblical themes and the importance of the individual to calls for tithing and the evils of sex and abortion. We were lectured on doctrine, told that "cafeteria Catholicism" (where you pick and choose your rules) was not acceptable. It was all or nothing. Liberation theology was suppressed. We as women were to model ourselves of the Virgin, who was painted more as a willing victim than a woman of assertive decision. She has become and interesting tool of Church manipulation. We were encouraged to vote for conservative, "pro-life" candidates and that God would provide for the many children women were to have. A generation of American Catholics have left the Church angry, estranged, disappointed, and bewildered with the slide back to nearly pre-Vatican 2 days. Our European Cousins were already way ahead of us with their backs to the steeple.

I suspect that the Church fell victim to the same "materialism" that it was reportedly fighting. I predicted 15 years ago that the Church was entering a new "dark age". I am vindicated. It has become a money grubbing, self-centered, overtly political, and corrupt organization in ways reminiscent of the Middle Ages. But then, perhaps it was always thus.

The Pope has remained amazingly aloof to the scandals of the last 5years preferring to preach at women about the evils of going to work and of enjoying recreational sex with one's mate to gays about the depravity of their lifestyle.

All of that having been said, my problems with the Pope strike me as personal in nature. He is the symbol of what we both admire and dislike. He is like any parent who has unpopular opinions about what his children do. And I understand that as a leader of many, faced with a world that displeases you, you have two choices. Adapt the doctrine to the modern way or be strict about applying centuries old tradition. As a leader, you do not have free choice yourself, but are bound by the limits of your post, mainly tradition, regulation, and precedent. The Pope did not face an easy set of events and he ruled in a time of greater progress and change than many of his predecessors. I find that I want to be hyper critical of the Pope, that my cynicism wants to take out after him. But I find that to do so would be hugely unfair. Power hungry people don't become Popes in this day in age. He was genuine. His words of caution were well meant and even when I disagreed, they made me think and consider my own position. The value of that cannot nor should not be underestimated.