This autocratic Pope has put Rome’s imperial traditions before Christ’s gospel, subverting the collegial vision of the Second Vatican Council – a vision of the church universal where the people share in the priesthood of Jesus
The Globe and Mail (Canada), July 25, 2002
By WILLIAM JOHNSON
Thursday, July 25, 2002 – Page A17
He’s a living, breathing, stumbling paradox, this Karol Wojtyla, a.k.a. Pope John Paul II.
Granted, he’s probably the most alluring, charismatic man to lead the Christian church in its entire history. He combines the authority of his office with mastering the idiom of contemporary mass media. He worked his magic on the throngs this week from the moment he began his perilous journey down the ramp after his plane landed in Toronto.
He’s not merely an inspired communicator with the gesture that strikes the eye and heart of the multitudes. A man of peace, he deploys his gifts as advocate for the poor and the oppressed.
Yet this same man stands immovable against reform — against reforms essential for the church to have a long-term future and for Catholicism to be reconciled at last with the needs of contemporary humanity.
Pope John Paul II has subverted the collegial vision of the Second Vatican Council by his autocratic pronouncements on a range of issues such as the celibacy of priests, the ordination of women and the prohibition of contraception. He treats other bishops as his subordinates and decides, with his Curia, who will be appointed bishop anywhere on Earth.
The people of God, so strongly affirmed by the Second Vatican Council as sharing in the priesthood of Jesus, are treated as an absolute monarch treats his subjects: Even when they wholly disagree with his views on morals, he insists that his views must prevail as a binding obligation on all the faithful.
In sum, the Polish Pope defends the imperial traditions of the Church of Rome rather than the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth or the practices of early Christians.
This “supreme and universal power over the whole Church,” which the Pope claims the right to “exercise unhindered” — and so, independently of the bishops or of an ecumenical council — was never mentioned by Jesus and was totally contrary to the practice of Christian communities for the first two centuries. Jesus, unlike Mohammed, never spoke of establishing a church or a religion outside Judaism and he never prescribed a constitution for a church.
The gradual acquisition of power by the Church of Rome — in the Middle Ages, over even emperor and kings — is a fascinating story.
It will take a new pope to abdicate imperial rule, restore the spirit of Jesus and reunite Christendom.