The Right Coast

April 04, 2005
NCR's obituary of John Paul II
By Tom Smith

This lengthy obituary gives the liberal American perspective on John Paul II's pontificate. I'm not in much sympathy with most of the criticisms, though I suppose I am a bit more liberal than John Paul was on some issues. Overall, however, I'm not sure Ratzinger's description of 'an avalance of eclesial decadence' is inapt. Doesn't anyone remember the Church in the 70's?

John Allen's indirectly blaming JPII in his obit for the American sex abuse scandal (the Pope should have appointed more creative, liberal bishops, then it would not have happened) is utterly ridiculous. It makes one wonder how many of his other criticisms are equally off base. Presumably not all of them.

And frankly, if I never hear the word condom again, it will be too soon. Here is Africa, full of improverished, horribly oppressed women and their pathetic children, many of them forced into prostitution of the most degraded sort out of economic desperation, victimized by men who are forced themselves to live in camps or otherwise far from their homes, and what is the answer to all their problems? Condoms! What American liberals really wish is that they could put a giant condom around the entire continent. It won't be easy for the Brits either. If it becomes a much more Catholic continent, they will face a difficult issue. You can't stop Muslim immigration if you're a liberal, but does that really mean you have to let in Catholics?

JP's views on women were interesting. Apparently he thought men and women were equal but different. Different, but equal. Good thing he already had tenure.

What Allen (and also the Guardian) seems most unable to forgive JP II for is his unbending opposition to birth control (let alone abortion). Allen even makes some stupid remark about how JP did not follow his theological reasoning about married life to its logical conclusion. One wonders how many doctorates in theology he has. John Paul had two. Heaven preserve us from journalists doing theology. Liberals always want to talk about the absurdity of being against condoms and not the absurdity of thinking there's nothing wrong with, say, killing a baby that has been born alive. Oh dear. I have said something in extremely poor taste, probably violating some privacy right without even knowing it. Please forgive me for doing something so wrong. Let's go back to talking about those lovely condoms.