Friday, April 01, 2005

Pontifex Maximus

It appears that Pope John Paul II will soon be dead. Be prepared for an onslaught of hagiography that will make the media coverage of Reagan's death seem restrained by comparison. Countless television commentators will wonder aloud if we will see John Paul II canonized within the next few years. The only consolation in this swamp of bad reporting will be that it will displace the truly awful coverage of Terry Schiavo from the front pages.

So, for those of you wish an antidote to what it about to hit us, I recommend an essay (translated into English) by Hans Küng from this week's issue of Der Spiegel. Küng is one of the greatest theologians of our time and his assessment of the damage done by John Paul II's papacy is incisive.

Those of us who look upon Vatican II and the papacy of John XXIII as the high-water mark of modern Roman Catholicism have had little reason to admire John Paul II. Even his "postive" steps, such as the long-overdue apology for centuries of officially-endorsed anti-Semitism in the Church left much to be desired (the apology to the Jews conveniently referred to the sins of individuals and not to the collective guilt of the Church and its hierarchy).

The Roman Catholic Church is an tyrannical institution. Vatican II instituted many reforms in the repressive governmental structure of the Church, but John Paul II rolled-back most of those reforms. His has been a destructive papacy. The Christ of the Gospels would not have approved of John Paul II's high-handedness. More importantly, the Roman Catholics alive today deserve a leader who recognizes that the Church belongs to its members, not to the Vatican.

Centuries of tradition are not an excuse for discrimination and bad policy. The Enlightenment began over two hundred years ago; it is long past time for the Roman Catholic Church to end its aristocratic and autocratic rule. ¡Viva la revolución!


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