POPE JOHN PAUL II Introduction

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					                       POPE JOHN PAUL II, 1920-2005
                       Shortly after 6 p.m. on April 19, 2005, a    when he became pope in 1978, he had
Focus                  plume of smoke wafted from a small           survived an assassination attempt in
This CBC News in
                       chimney on a roof in the Vatican in          1981, later meeting personally with his
Review story fo-
cuses on the life      Rome. The assembled crowd, which             imprisoned assailant in order to offer
and legacy of Pope     had been anxiously awaiting this signal      him forgiveness.
John Paul II, his      all day, at first wondered if the smoke        As pope, John Paul had visited almost
impact on contem-      was black or white. But once the bells       every country in the world, (129 to be
porary history, and    of the massive St. Peter’s Basilica and      exact). He was a tireless advocate for
the challenges
facing his successor
                       all of Rome’s other churches began to        peace and had opposed the war in Iraq.
and the Roman          toll in unison, their doubts were re-        In his last years, he had strongly de-
Catholic Church in     moved. The smoke was white, a clear          nounced the injustices of capitalism and
the new century.       message to the faithful of the urbi et       globalization, which condemn millions
                       orbi—the city of Rome and the world—         to poverty, with the same passion as he
                       that the cardinals inside had chosen a       had once had when he led the campaign
Did you know . . .     new pope. It had only taken two days to      against communism in his native Po-
John Paul I pre-       elect a successor to Pope John Paul II,      land and throughout the former Soviet
ceded John Paul II,
                       who had died just two weeks before,          bloc. He had reached out to Jews,
but only lived for a
few weeks after        after being in ill health for months. The    Muslims, and other faiths in an effort to
being chosen pope?     man who would follow him to the              promote greater understanding among
                       throne of St. Peter as the leader of the     the world’s religions. He was an inspi-
                       world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics          ration to millions of young people
Quote                  was the German cardinal Joseph               around the world, and the World Youth
“As long as I have     Ratzinger, who chose as his papal name       Days he instituted had brought many
breath within me, I    Benedict XVI. He would face the              back to the church.
shall cry out ‘Peace
                       challenge of filling the shoes of the man      But along with the positive aspects of
in the name of
God.’” — John Paul     who had headed the church for a quarter      his legacy, some of his positions on
II when ill and        of a century, one of the longest pontifi-    religious, social, and ethical issues
contemplating          cates in its 2000-year history.              remained open to criticism. During his
retiring (Toronto        John Paul II’s funeral was a solemn        long reign, John Paul II had imposed a
Star, April 2, 2005)   occasion that attracted heads of state       rigid centralization on the church. Local
                       from all over the world, along with an       authorities had very little room to
                       adoring crowd estimated in the hun-          exercise any autonomy. He was a strict
 YV Sections           dreds of thousands. In the period of         conservative on matters of doctrine and
marked with this
symbol indicate
                       mourning before he was laid to rest in       ceremony, and had made clear his total
content suitable for   the subterranean crypt of St. Peter’s,       opposition to the ordination of women
younger viewers.       millions of pilgrims from all over the       priests or marriage of the clergy. He
                       world had waited patiently for hours in      had spoken out against abortion, contra-
                       long lines to file past his body and pay     ception, using condoms to curb HIV/
                       their respects. He had a global follow-      AIDS in Africa, stem-cell research, and
                       ing that extended far beyond the faithful    same-sex marriages. Some saw his
                       of the church he led, and was widely         response to the massive child sex-abuse
                       respected for his intelligence, courage,     scandal that rocked the Catholic Church
                       and dynamism. Relatively unknown             in the United States as tardy and half-

                                                CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 6
                       hearted. To many, both within and            predecessor’s positions. But at 78, the
Further Research       outside the church, his stands on such       oldest member of the College of Cardi-
To learn more
                       issues proved that he was out of touch       nals from which prospective popes are
about the papacy
and to stay in-        with the realities of modern society and     chosen, Benedict XVI was not expected
formed of current      was resistant to change. As a result,        to lead the church for nearly as long as
events, you might      there was great hope among liberal and       John Paul had done. To most Vatican
make a visit to the    reform currents within Catholicism that      observers, it appeared likely that his
official Web site of   John Paul’s successor might adopt more       reign would be a continuation of John
the Holy See at
                       progressive positions. There was even        Paul’s conservative policies, and possi-
There are many         some expectation that the cardinals          bly even a strengthening of them. But
graphics and both      might break with tradition and choose a      whatever stamp he chooses to impose
current content        pope from outside Europe, in recogni-        on it, the Catholic Church faces major
and historical         tion of the fact that most of the world’s    challenges in the 21st century, and
                       Catholics make their homes in Africa,        Benedict XVI will have to deal with
                       Asia, and Latin America.                     them. Both Catholics and non-Catholics
                          Such hopes for change were dashed,        around the world will be watching for
                       or at least delayed, when the cardinals      the first indications of the direction in
                       announced their choice for John Paul         which he intends to lead the Church in
                       II’s successor. Cardinal Ratzinger has       the wake of John Paul II’s long and
                       the reputation of being a strict conser-     eventful pontificate.
                       vative, fully in accord with his

                       To Consider
                         1. Why was the death of Pope John Paul II such a significant event?

                         2. In what ways did the late pope impact on the recent history of the world?

                         3. What aspects of Pope John Paul’s reign have received criticism and why?

                         4. What is the significance of the choice of Pope John Paul II’s successor?

                         5. What are some of the main challenges the Catholic Church and its new
                            leader will have to face in the 21st century?

                                                CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 7
                      POPE JOHN PAUL II, 1920-2005
                   YV Video Review

                        1. For how long did John Paul II lead the Roman Catholic Church? __________
Carefully respond
to the questions on
                        2. How did most people respond to the news of the pope’s death?
this page as you
view the video.

CBC Archives            3. How did John Paul II transform the papacy?
To view audio-
visual content of a
papal visit to
Canada, visit the
CBC Digital Archives
                        4. How did John Paul II affect the Cold War?
archives and ex-
plore the file “The
1984 Papal Visit.”

                        5. How many world leaders attended the funeral? ________________________

                        6. What serious problems confront the Roman Catholic Church?

                        7. How was the selection of the new Pope announced?

                        8. Who is the new Pope? ________________________________________________

                        9. Why do you think John Paul II was known as a great communicator?

                       10. What effect, if any, did Pope John Paul II have on your life? Explain.

                                              CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 8
                         POPE JOHN PAUL II, 1920-2005
                      YV A Long and Eventful Life

                        Pope John Paul II was one of the major        in 1946. By 1948 he has earned a
Did you know . . .      figures in recent world history, and his      master’s degree in theology and a
John Paul II was
                        importance for our time was immense.          doctorate in philosophy.
seen in person by
more people than        Here is a timeline that highlights the        September 28, 1958 At the age of
any other figure in     main events in his life and his impact        38, Wojtyla becomes the youngest
history?                on world affairs. Circle three items that     bishop in Polish history when he is
                        you think are particularly important and      ordained in the Cathedral of Wawel.
                        be prepared to explain your choices.          Five years later he is named Bishop of
Did you know . . .
                        May 18, 1920 Karol Wojtyla is born            Krakow, and in 1967 becomes Poland’s
John Paul II kept his
dead brother’s          in Wadowice, Poland. At the age of 8,         youngest cardinal when Pope Paul VI
stethoscope in his      he loses his mother, and his older            appoints him to the College of Cardi-
Vatican office?         brother, a doctor, dies three years later.    nals, the highest governing body of the
With so many            When Wojtyla is a young man, his              Catholic Church. Wojtyla’s rapid
deaths in his family,   father, who was a sergeant in the Polish      advance in the church hierarchy is
to some observers,
the church became
                        army, also dies. By the age of 20, he         remarkable, and he emerges as a major
his new family.         has lost three close family members.          opponent of Poland’s anti-religious
                        June 22, 1938 Wojtyla enrolls in the          communist regime.
                        faculty of philosophy at the prestigious      October 16, 1978 To the surprise of
                        Jagellonian University in Krakow,             many, Wojtyla is elected pope and takes
                        where he participates in amateur dra-         the name John Paul II, in honour of his
                        matic productions. He is an active            predecessor, John Paul I, who served
                        young man who enjoys skiing, hiking,          only 33 days before dying suddenly. He
                        mountain climbing, swimming, and              is the first Polish pope in history, and
                        canoeing. He also loves languages,            the first non-Italian to hold the office in
                        eventually learning to speak 11.              over four centuries.
                        February 1940 Within months of the            March 14, 1979 Pope John Paul II
                        Nazi occupation of Poland, Wojtyla            visits Mexico and the Dominican
                        joins the underground resistance move-        Republic, the first of over 100 trips that
                        ment, avoiding deportation as a slave         will take him to most of the world’s
                        labourer by finding a job as a stonecutter.   countries, both Catholic and non-
                        October 1942 Wojtyla becomes                  Catholic. He becomes by far the most
                        increasingly influenced by religion and       travelled pope in history, earning for
                        begins studies that will eventually lead      himself the nickname “Pilgrim Pope”
                        him to the priesthood in an underground       for his frequent visits to holy sites
                        seminary in Krakow. As a sign of his          around the world. That June, he returns
                        devotion, he chooses as his personal          to his native Poland and tells large
                        motto “totus tuus,” or “all yours,”           crowds not to be afraid in their struggle
                        signifying his commitment to the Virgin       to free their country from communist
                        Mary. Following the end of the Second         rule. His visit inspires the Solidarity
                        World War, he is ordained a priest, and       trade union movement to step up its
                        leaves Poland for further study in Rome       opposition to the regime and its Soviet

                                                  CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 9
                        May 13, 1981 Mehmet Ali, a Turk-               political systems. To the world’s Catho-
Definition              ish fanatic, fires three shots at John Paul    lics, papal encyclicals are considered to
Infallible means
                        II at close range outside St. Peter’s          be divinely inspired and infallible. Two
unable to be
wrong. Thus deci-       Basilica in Rome. He is wounded in the         years later he issues a further such
sions made by the       abdomen, left hand, and right arm.             statement opposing contraception and
pope are seen as        Although he survives, some believe he          euthanasia, and in 2003 pronounces
being without           never fully recovers from the attack. He       against any watering-down of Catholic
error. This is a        later visits Ali in prison to extend him       doctrine and ritual.
source of some
debate today
                        forgiveness. At the time, there is con-        January 11, 1995 The Pope ad-
among Catholics.        siderable speculation that Ali is in the       dresses the largest crowd of his pontifi-
                        pay of the Bulgarian intelligence              cate, numbering over four million
                        agency that wants the Pope dead be-            people in Manila, Philippines, as part of
Did you know . . .      cause of his opposition to communism           the 10th World Youth Day celebrations.
The Vatican is the      in Eastern Europe.
world’s smallest                                                       John Paul II institutes this event in 1985
state? Even though      September 9, 1984 The Pope                     as a means of drawing young people
it is in Rome, Italy,   arrives in Canada for the first of three       back to the church. Toronto hosts
it is recognized as     trips he will make to this country. When       World Youth Day in 2002.
an independent          bad weather prevents him from travel-
state and has its                                                      October 7, 1996 The Pope under-
own diplomats,          ling to the Northwest Territories to visit     goes an appendectomy. Previously, he
train station, radio    isolated aboriginal communities, he            suffered other health-related problems,
network, and post       promises to return. He keeps his prom-         including having a tumor removed from
office.                 ise three years later.                         his colon in 1992, a dislocation of the
                        April 13, 1986 John Paul II’s unex-            shoulder in 1993, and a broken femur in
                        pected visit to Rome’s main Jewish             1994, both injuries resulting from falls.
                        synagogue makes him the first pope in          March 12, 2000 As part of the Papal
                        history to make such a gesture. He             Jubilee Year ceremonies of the new
                        prays with the rabbi and indicates his         millennium, Pope John Paul II issues a
                        interest in improving the church’s             public statement seeking forgiveness
                        relationship with the Jewish people. In        for some of the intolerant actions the
                        1993, he establishes diplomatic rela-          church has taken in the past, including
                        tions between Israel and the Vatican.          the persecution of scientific figures
                        December 1, 1989 Soviet leader                 such as the astronomer Galileo. Later
                        Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the first            that year, he makes a pilgrimage to the
                        communist head of state to visit the           Holy Land, where he prays at the
                        Pope in the Vatican. Later he acknowl-         Western Wall, the holiest site for the
                        edges the major role John Paul II played       Hebrew religion. In 2001, during a visit
                        in the collapse of communism in East-          to Syria, he becomes the first pope in
                        ern Europe.                                    history to enter a Muslim mosque.
                        August 6, 1993 John Paul II re-                September 24, 2003 Following a
                        leases an encyclical (official church          long period of official silence regarding
                        statement) reinforcing traditional views       the Pope’s failing health, Austrian
                        on ethical and moral issues. Previously,       Cardinal Schoenborn states that John
                        he had issued statements on topics such        Paul II is dying. Shortly before, he was
                        as the dignity of man, the mercy of            unable to complete his remarks on
                        God, and the failings of both commu-           arriving for a visit to Slovakia. One
                        nist and capitalist socio-economic and         month later, he celebrates the 25th
                                                  CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 10
anniversary of his pontificate, the          April 2, 2005 In the 26th year of his
longest in modern times, and the third       pontificate, Pope John Paul II dies at
longest in the church’s 2000-year            the age of 84 of complications resulting
history. Although ill and increasingly       from a urinary tract infection and other
infirm, John Paul continues his work.        serious health problems. He lies in state
February 1, 2005 The Pope is                 in St. Peter’s Basilica, where millions
rushed to hospital in Rome, suffering        line up for hours to pass by his body as
from acute respiratory problems. Weeks       a silent tribute to his long and eventful
later, he undergoes a tracheotomy            reign as Pope. His funeral attracts heads
operation and has a breathing tube           of state from many countries, in recog-
inserted into his throat. On March 27,       nition of his significance as a world
Easter Sunday, he appears at a window        leader. Following his wishes, his body
in the Vatican to a huge crowd congre-       is laid to rest in the crypt of St. Peter’s
gating in St. Peter’s Square, but is         Basilica, the burial place of many of his
unable to speak.                             predecessors. Many in the church
                                             consider him a strong candidate for
                                             early sainthood. He is often referred to
                                             as John Paul the Great.

  1. In your opinion, what qualities of character, intelligence, and ability did
     Karol Wojtyla possess that enabled him to become a leading figure in the
     Catholic Church, and eventually rise to the position of Pope?

  2. As Pope, how did John Paul II use his position as leader of a religious
     institution to effect change in his native country and the rest of the

  3. On what issues of concern to people today did the Pope take a conserva-
     tive stand, resistant to change?

  4. After reading the passage above, discuss which of Pope John Paul’s
     achievements will form his lasting legacy for the church he led and for the
     world at large.

  5. What is your personal assessment of the life and career of John Paul II?

                        CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 11
                      POPE JOHN PAUL II, 1920-2005
                   YV In His Own Words

                       “War is an adventure without return.”         “The abuse which has caused this crisis
Here is a selection
                       — Christmas Day address in Rome on            is by every standard wrong and rightly
of some of Pope
John Paul II’s         the eve of the first Persian Gulf War,        considered a crime by society; it is also
pronouncements         1990                                          an appalling sin in the eyes of God.” —
on important                                                         speech to U.S. cardinals at the Vatican
issues. Choose the     “Physical condition or advancing age          during sex abuse scandal involving U.S.
one with which you     are not obstacles to a perfect life. God      priests, April 23, 2002
most agree and the
one with which you
                       does not look at external things but at
most disagree. Be      the soul.” — speech delivered on his          “No to war! War is not always inevi-
prepared to discuss    83rd birthday in 2003                         table. It is always a defeat for human-
your choices.                                                        ity.” — speech to diplomats on January
                       “I am a young person at 83.” — speech         13, 2003, as the second Iraq war
                       to Spanish youth at a Madrid rally, May       loomed
Quote                  2003
“He seemed to like                                                   “God once said ‘Thou shalt not kill.’
Canadians and he       “The Pope cannot remain a prisoner of         No human group, Mafia or whatever,
was quite knowl-
edgeable about
                       the Vatican. I want to go to everybody.       can trample on this most sacred law of
Canada.” — former      . . . from the nomads of the steppes to       God.” — 1993 speech given on a visit
prime minister Jean    the monks and nuns in their convents.         to Sicily, wracked by violence caused
Chrétien (Toronto      . . . I want to cross the threshold of        by organized criminal activity
Star, April 4, 2005)   every home.” — speaking to reporters
                       early in his pontificate                      “I declare that the Church has no au-
                                                                     thority whatsoever to confer priestly
                       “We are deeply saddened by the                ordination on women and that this
                       behaviour of those who in the course of       judgment is to be definitively held by
                       history have caused those children of         all the Church’s faithful.” — from a
                       yours to suffer and, asking your for-         1994 letter on the ban on women as
                       giveness, we wish to commit ourselves         priests
                       to genuine brotherhood with the people
                       of the Covenant.” — handwritten note          “A nation that kills its own children has
                       he left at the Western Wall in Jerusa-        no future.” — on Poland’s 1996 debate
                       lem, Judaism’s holiest site, 1986             on whether to legalize abortion

                          1. Read the passages above by the late Pope John Paul II and discuss with
                             your classmates what you think are the most important topics being
                             addressed in them. What were the Pope’s positions on these issues?

                          2. In your view what are likely to be the most lasting and significant aspects
                             of his legacy for the church he led and the world at large?

                       Note: All citations are taken from the CBC Web section In Depth: Pope John Paul II:
                       John Paul II: In his own words (

                                                CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 12
                      POPE JOHN PAUL II, 1920-2005
                      Choosing a New Pope
                      On April 18, 2005, 115 of the 118                By recent standards, this conclave
Did you know . . .    members of the College of Cardinals,          was not remarkably short. However,
In total there are
                      (the missing three were not present           one meeting in the 13th century took
183 cardinals?
Those over 80         because of age or illness) the highest        over two years before a new Pope was
cannot vote for a     and most important body within the            finally chosen!
new pope.             Roman Catholic Church, gathered in               Pope John Paul II himself laid down
Only three cardi-     Rome. The purpose of their meeting,           the process for the selection of his
nals had ever voted   known as a conclave, was to elect a new       successor in 1996. One important
for a pope before?    pope from among their members fol-            change he made to traditional practice
The rest had all      lowing the death of John Paul II. The         was the construction of a special hotel-
been appointed by
                      word conclave derives from the Latin          residence for the cardinals to stay in
John Paul II.
                      phrase cum clave, which means “with a         during their conclave. Prior to this, they
Three Canadian
                      key.” This refers to the tradition of the     were expected to sleep and eat in the
cardinals partici-
pated in the voting   cardinals being locked in while voting        Sistine Chapel, enduring considerable
for a successor to    for a new pope and not being permitted        discomfort in the process. Papal con-
John Paul II?         to leave until they had accomplished          claves have been held regularly since
                      this task. The venue for their meeting        1241. Before that, both the clergy and
                      was the breathtakingly beautiful Sistine      lay people of Rome were entitled to
                      Chapel in the Vatican, whose walls and        vote for the head of their church. In
                      ceiling were painted by the famous            1059, Pope Nicholas II decreed that
                      Renaissance artist Michelangelo. As           henceforth only cardinals would have
                      soon as all of the cardinals, or “princes     the right to vote for a new pope. This
                      of the church,” had taken their places,       would prevent outsiders from meddling
                      the huge wooden doors of the chapel           in the affairs of the church. But as late
                      were closed, and their deliberations          as 1903, the Emperor of Austria-Hun-
                      began in the strictest secrecy.               gary, Franz Joseph, exercised a veto over
                        Only one day after the conclave             a papal election.
                      convened, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger              According to church historian
                      was elected the new pope. A plume of          Frederic Baumgartner, author of Behind
                      white smoke from the chimney on a             Locked Doors: A History of Papal
                      roof in the Vatican was the cardinals’        Elections the Holy Roman Emperor
                      signal to the city of Rome and the world      Charles V warned the cardinals in 1549
                      that a single candidate had received the      that he “would know when they even
                      necessary two-thirds majority vote and        urinate in the conclave,” so concerned
                      had been duly elected. Previous at-           was he to eliminate any possibility of
                      tempts ending in deadlock had also            outside influences on their decision.
                      been signaled, but with black smoke.          Centuries before, in 1274, Pope Gre-
                      The smoke came from the burning of            gory X had set down the rules that
                      the cardinals’ paper ballots, treated with    governed the conducting of papal
                      chemicals to produce the distinctive          conclaves until the time of Pope John
                      colour. We will never know who the            Paul II. All cardinals were expected to
                      other candidates for pope were, nor how       sleep in one room, sworn to secrecy,
                      many votes either Ratzinger or they           receiving their food through a turnstile.
                      received.                                     If the voting process dragged on more
                                               CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 13
                     than five days, their rations were to be      Latin, “Annuntio vobis gaudium maxi-
Did you know . . .   reduced to bread and water, with a bit        mum. Habemus papam!” (“I announce
Cardinal Ratzinger
                     of wine. The purpose of these strict          to you news of great joy. We have a
was one of only
three cardinal-      regulations was to reduce the possibility     pope!”). The newly elected Pope
electors not ap-     of long, drawn-out conclaves, such as         Benedict XVI, clad for the first time in
pointed by Pope      that of 1268. In that conclave, held in       his white papal vestments, stepped
John Paul II? He,    the papal palace at Viterbo, a town just      forward to deliver his first address. In
like the previous    north of Rome, the cardinals were             this manner, the 265th leader of the
pope, has mastered
many languages
                     deadlocked. In frustration, the local         Roman Catholic Church was finally
and speaks eight—    residents removed the roof of the pal-        chosen, in a ceremony that combined
including English,   ace. They did this after an English           ancient tradition with significant mod-
German, Italian,     cardinal had been overheard to remark         ern adaptations. It was an occasion
Spanish, French,     that without the roof, it would be easier     steeped in history, signifying the lon-
and Portuguese.
                     for the Spirit of God to descend on the       gevity and continuing power and maj-
                     cardinals below in order to hasten their      esty of this religious institution. As
                     decision. Nonetheless, this conclave          historian Thomas Noble, the director of
                     dragged on for a total of 33 months, one      the Medieval Institute at the University
                     of the longest on record.                     of Notre Dame has noted, “it is a strik-
                       Once the white smoke appeared from          ing fact, easily overlooked, that the
                     the Vatican chimney, the bells of the         Roman Catholic Church is the oldest
                     churches of Rome began to toll in             functioning institution in the world, and
                     unison. To the joy and satisfaction of        so the papacy is the oldest functioning
                     the crowd of approximately 200 000            kind of monarchy—though a different
                     faithful assembled in St. Peter’s Square,     kind of monarchy, to be sure. The sheer
                     a senior cardinal stepped forward to          fact of its survival is pretty impressive.”
                     make the fateful announcement in

                       1. After reading this passage, discuss why you think traditions are so impor-
                          tant in the process leading to the choosing of a new Pope.

                       2. Do you think the practice of voting for a new pope in secrecy is something
                          the Catholic Church should consider changing when the next pope is
                          elected? Why or why not?

                     Note: All citations are taken from the CBC Web section “In Depth: Pope John Paul

                                              CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 14
                        POPE JOHN PAUL II, 1920-2005
                        Activity: Advice to Benedict XVI
                        The newly elected Pope Benedict XVI faces many challenges as he assumes his
Did you know . . .      role as supreme leader of the Roman Catholic Church. What advice would
Although there          you give to him so that he might best deal with them in a way that does not
were 15 other           compromise core Catholic beliefs while at the same time recognizes that
popes named             change may be required if the faith is to remain relevant and important to
Benedict, perhaps       people around the world?
the most renowned
Benedict of all was     Biographical Background to the New Pope
the monk who            John Paul II’s successor to the throne of St. Peter is widely viewed as a conser-
created the monas-      vative who is likely to continue the policies of his predecessor on social and
tic order and the       moral issues. As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger directed the Congregation for
Benedictine Rule?
                        the Doctrine of the Faith, the influential arm of the Catholic Church that
                        ensured all clergy and lay people within the faith adhered to its core beliefs.

Quote                   Ratzinger was born in the southern German town of Markt am Inn on April
“After the great        16, 1927. As a youth growing up during the Nazi era, he was required to join
pope John Paul II,      the Hitler Youth, and during the Second World War he served as an anti-
the cardinals have      aircraft gunner guarding a BMW plant. At the end of the war, he was briefly
elected me, a           imprisoned by occupying U.S. troops. Between 1946 and 1951 he studied at
simple and humble       the universities of Freising and Munich before being ordained a priest. In
worker in the           1957 he obtained a doctorate in theology and became an influential advisor
vineyard of the         to Pope John XXIII during the period of church reform leading up to the
Lord.” — Pope           Second Vatican Council of 1960. However, with the rise of radical student
Benedict XVI in his     protests in his native Germany and other European countries during the late
first words to the      1960s, his views shifted away from liberalism in a strongly conservative direc-
faithful (Toronto       tion.
Star, April 20, 2005)
                        Upon assuming the position of guardian of the church’s doctrine in 1981, he
                        was nicknamed “the Pope’s Rottweiler” and “The Grand Inquisitor” for his
                        rigid application of conservative theological positions. He disciplined radical
                        Latin American priests who advocated “liberation theology,” or solidarity
                        with social movements seeking economic change in that region, such as the
                        assassinated Salvadorean Bishop Oscar Romero. He condemned homosexual-
                        ity, same-sex marriage, birth control, and proposals that priests should be
                        allowed to marry and women be ordained. He asserted that the Roman
                        Catholic Church was the only road to eternal salvation after death, and that it
                        should refrain from establishing close ties with either Protestants or non-
                        Christian faiths. Liberal currents within the church were uneasy with
                        Ratzinger’s views and reacted with dismay and disappointment upon his
                        election as Pope. However, whether or not he continues to follow the rigidly
                        conservative stands he was known for as a cardinal remains to be seen. In the
                        first days of his papacy he displayed a warmth and modesty somewhat op-
                        posed to his reputation.

                        Challenges the New Pope Will Face
                        a) The demand for greater autonomy within the church
                        Pope John Paul II ran a very tight ship, imposing the will of the Vatican hier-
                        archy based in Rome on archbishops, bishops, and local parish priests around
                        the world. To some within the church, he was viewed as a “micromanager”

                                                CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 15
                     who did not permit local authorities the freedom to adapt church doctrine,
Did you know . . .   ritual, and ceremony to suit local traditions, cultures, and beliefs. The new Pope
Although the last    is widely regarded as a rigid centralizer, like his predecessor. He may soon have
two popes have       to deal with increasing demands from cardinals and other prominent church
come from outside    officials to permit greater freedom to local authorities.
Italy, of the 265
popes, 210 have      b) Reform within the church
come from Italy?     In many countries, the number of priests and nuns is declining markedly, and
                     there are growing concerns within the church that there may soon be a serious
                     shortage. Some attribute this phenomenon to the rigid enforcement of the rule
Did you know . . .   that clergy are not permitted to marry, and that women may not be ordained.
Over 55 000 Catho-   While conservatives like the new Pope are strongly opposed to changing such
lic parishes are     policies, there are many Catholics who would like to see a more liberal ap-
without their own    proach to them.
                     c) Divorce, abortion, birth control, and the use of condoms
                     Although the official church positions opposing divorce, abortion, and any form
                     of artificial contraception are firm and unequivocal, it is an open secret that
                     many Catholics in Europe and North America do not follow them in their per-
                     sonal lives. This has been especially true since the development of the birth
                     control pill over four decades ago. In many African countries, the spread of HIV/
                     AIDS could be countered by the use of condoms, something the church strongly
                     rejects. Many Catholics in both developed and developing countries hope that
                     the church may adopt less rigid positions on these issues, if only for the purpose
                     of saving lives.

                     d) Homosexuality and same-sex marriage
                     The Catholic Church believes that same-sex marriage undermines the traditional
                     idea of marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman. So far, only
                     three countries in Europe have legalized same-sex marriages, while Canada may
                     be on the verge of doing so. Supporters of greater equality for gays and lesbi-
                     ans argue that the church should adopt a more liberal position on this social
                     issue, in recognition of the fact that society’s attitudes have gradually become
                     more accepting of them.

                     e) The church and the North-South divide
                     The vast majority of the world’s Roman Catholics now live in what is known as
                     the developing world—the countries of South America, Africa, and Asia. In
                     Africa, membership in the church is increasing, while in Latin America Catholi-
                     cism finds itself on the defensive against a rising tide of evangelical Protestant-
                     ism. Many in the church hoped that the cardinals would break with tradition
                     and elect a successor to John Paul II who came from outside Europe. The fact
                     that this did not happen was a great disappointment to them. They will no
                     doubt urge Pope Benedict XVI to reach out to the developing world by promot-
                     ing a greater sense of social justice and a commitment to economic equality.
                     Pope John Paul II strongly criticized what he called “neo-liberal capitalism” and
                     the process of globalization that has exacerbated the divide between the rich
                     North of the world and the poor South. The new Pope will be under pressure to
                     continue speaking out on this issue.

                     f) The church and sex abuse
                     Beginning in the late 1990s, the Catholic Church in the United States was
                     rocked by a series of serious scandals involving the sexual abuse of children and
                     young people by priests and other clerical officials. Some people within the

                                             CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 16
                          church were disappointed by what they viewed as the half-hearted response of
Send an E-mail            Pope John Paul II to this crisis and the lack of decisive action on his part to deal
To send an e-mail         with it decisively and firmly. The expensive financial settlements and long-term
directly to the           disillusionment with the church this has created in the U.S. represents a continu-
Pope, consider            ing challenge. It is likely that the new Pope will have to face this issue early in
using the following       his pontificate.
address   Advising the Pope on the Issues
However, do not           Form groups with your classmates to discuss the issues outlined above. As a
expect a direct
                          group, formulate a set of proposals you would offer to the new Pope, Benedict
personal response
                          XVI, that would assist him and the church he leads in dealing with them. Your
from the new Pope
                          advice should be respectful of core Catholic doctrines and practices but should
                          also recognize the need for adaptation and change if the church is to remain
                          relevant and effective as a religious and spiritual institution in today’s world. It
                          should also contain specific suggestions that could be made to the Pope regard-
                          ing what might be the most effective way for him to convey the church’s views
                          to both Catholics and non-Catholics. You might wish to send your comments to
                          the Vatican directly (


                                                  CBC News in Review • May 2005 • Page 17

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