On the Roman Catholic Church:
Pope John Paul II
|John Paul II: The Great Restorer
by Leonardo Boff
Leonardo Boff, a renowned liberation theologian, teacher, and writer
living in Petrópolis, Brazil, considers the significance of the Papacy of
John Paul II. Amid all the calls for the Pope to be placed on a fast track
for sainthood, Boff sees his reign as one of restoring the Catholic Church
to a pre-Vatican II orthodoxy. Specifically, Pope John XXIII had begun to
deal with two major issues facing the Church: the Protestant Reformation
In sum, his papacy was dedicated to "the restoration of and the return
to great discipline."
Read his essay in The Witness magazine
What do you think?
Please share your thoughts about Pope John Paul II, or
about Pope Benedict XVI.
Just send a note!
|On the death of Pope John Paul II
As Presbyterians we join with our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers
around the world in grieving the death of Pope John Paul II on Saturday,
While many of us, like many Catholics, would differ
with some of the Pope’s strongly held views on matters such as birth
control, a woman’s right to make choices affecting her own body, the
proper role of women in the church and in the ministry, and the rights
of gay and lesbian people to full, loving, committed relationships,
nevertheless we know the world has lost a leader of immense importance.
You may have heard and read more than enough about the
Pope over the past couple days, but we offer here links to a number of
comments that you may find worth looking at.
The Papal Legacy: Questioning Capitalism
John Paul II is difficult to understand for many
Americans. He, like the church he led, was neither Democrat nor
Republican. This Pope was more pro-human rights than Jimmy Carter and more
anti-communist than Ronald Reagan. But it was in economics that the Pope
was even more challenging to the American mind. Polish scholar Marcin Król
explains John Paul II's "Third Way" between capitalism and communism.
Read this on
Papal Legacy: No to the Death Penalty
Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean, made famous in the movie Dead
Man Walking, has a vocation to end the death penalty in America. As a
Catholic nun, Sr. Prejean sought the support of John Paul II in
overturning the Catholic Church's 1,600-year old loophole allowing states
to kill their own citizens. It worked. In 1997, John Paul changed the
catechism of the church, and last month, the American Bishops finally made
it a priority. Now comes the hard part. (NYTimes , free reg. req'd.)
Read this in the
York Times (free registration required)
Two perspectives on the pope — one from outside, one
Smash hit on world stage gets mixed reviews among
David Gibson, a veteran religion reporter and author of
The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American
Catholicism, sees John Paul II as having had a great impact on the world
beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church – using his Polish
roots to help bring down the Berlin Wall, and eventually the reign of
Communist governments in much of Eastern Europe; advocating for justice
and human rights, especially for the poor in Asia, Africa and Latin
America; turning his criticisms on the evils of capitalism; standing
passionately against armed conflict, including American adventures in Iraq
and elsewhere.Yet within the Roman Catholic community there is a mixture
of admiration and affection, and a regret as the Pope’s refusal to be more
open to progressive changes in the world, including the role of women,
understandings of sexuality, and more. At the same time, Catholics on the
right wing of the church view him as having sold out to modernism. And
even in "the deep middle" of Catholicism (which I guess is sort of like
the Presbyterians’ "broad middle" ) moderate Catholics want to see a more
pastoral style of leadership, a less centralized church, and more openness
for discussion, even on issues that the Pope has rule out of bounds.
Read from Presbyterian News Service >>
Polish pope surprised the world, transformed the global
George Weigel, one of America’s leading authorities on
Pope John Paul II and the author of his 1999 biography, Witness to Hope,
points to some of the transformations John Paul achieved within the
Catholic Church – his call for the Church to recover its evangelical zeal,
his transformation of the papacy into a pastoral office; his appeal to
young people; his building of relationships with Orthodox, Protestant and
Jewish faith communities.
Read this, too, from Presbyterian News Service >>
Do you have thoughts to add?
Please send a note, to
be shared here!
|Presbyterian pastor comments on the
current crisis in the Catholic Church as an example of the need for
The Rev. Dudley Sarfaty, a retired Presbyterian
pastor and member of the Witherspoon Society, lives in Chateaugay in
northern New York State. He shared this letter to the editor of the Malone
Telegram with us on June 23; we are posting it here on 6/27/02.
To the editor:
All the Great Protestant Reformers were Roman
Catholics. This is true of Martin Luther in Germany, John Calvin in
Switzerland, John Wycliff in England, Menno Simon in Holland, John Hus
in Bohemia and Peter Waldo in Italy. They were seeking to be faithful in
their day, as are the devout Roman Catholic activists who are hoping to
reform their Church today.
The recent sex scandals among the Roman Catholics have
brought to light the need for checks and balances, and democratic
participation of the faithful. It seems that until pride and power are
replaced by serious humility the faithful will remain in an increasingly
rebellious mood, hurting the Church and perhaps themselves as well, as
they struggle to make their Church more true to itself. Rev. Wilton
Gregory, President of the U. S. Catholic Bishops, certainly stated it
clearly in Dallas last week.
Whether the hierarchy welcomes it or not, democracy
and reform have already taken their place in the life of the Roman
Church. The pioneering work of Pope John XXIII will simply be further
refined as the Church seeks to maintain the core of its essential
Christian insights, integrating into its developing tradition the
interpretations and modernizations which the 21st Century demands.
The blunt cartoon which Msgr. John found offensive
(6/20) certainly did make a radical criticism of the Church and its
power persons. However, the cartoon was far milder than the things
Jesus, himself, angrily said about people who hurt children. It may be
difficult to accept criticisms of any church's power structure. I
remember my own reaction when I heard the Chicago Cardinal mix up the
issues when he said in Dallas that his Church was threatened by an
"American Secularist Protestant" conspiracy. I think it is far
better for all of us to interpret criticism as a positive sign of an
opportunity for the development of democracy and a rebirth of the Holy
Spirit in a being-born-again Church.
The main issue is a direct loyalty to Christ, which
puts all our human vanities under critical judgment. It seems to me that
Paul Tillich's "Protestant Principle," which affirmed
continuing universal Reformation, is a hopeful guideline for us all -
those in the various the Protestant denominations and also among our
Roman Catholic sisters and brothers.
Rev. Dudley E. Sarfaty, Pastor Emeritus
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!