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April 05, 2005



I'm starting to watch more Fox and Cnn. Fox has had some really great guests. People who know and understand catholic life and teaching. I was at work yesterday, closed my door during my lunch and watched TV. The cnn coverage of the transfer of the body to the church was beautiful. They keep quiet and let the music and beauty of the palace speak for them. When they did talk it was well worth it. They discussed the events that were going on and that was all. I was able to watch for half an hour before the students returned and the TV had to be quickly shut off. It is still bothersome to hear everyone talk about how defiant the Catholics in America are. Again, do they really investigate what it is like beyond their world. I also wish they would can the polls and that's what they really count on to support their view. Anyway I'm glad the cable channels are devoting so much time to the pope. It really helps both catholics and non-Catholic understand what is happening and what an awesome impact Pope John Paul II had on our lives.

Don Boyle

An interview on NPR this morning with John Allen identified him as being from "Catholic Report." Ha ha.

You can't go too long with wall-to-wall piety, it seems. Yesterday's New York Times had a piece by Alessandra Stanley covering the coverage--making the point that many people interviewed for stories about the Pope ended up talking up more about themselves than him. Rather catty, I thought.


Wish all those polls about Catholics would break down the responses by "attends mass once or twice a year", attends services once a month, attends services weekly or more often.

Wonder how much the "poll" numbers would change? Wonder how they would change if they were broken down by the following two categories, "I believe Jesus is really present in the Eucharist" and "I don't believe it?"


Chris Matthews had Archbishop Dolan from Milwaukee on last night. Chris seemed slightly calmer, and he had a friendly sparring session with Dolan about his usual complaints, ie, why does the church repress American Catholics so much? and so on. Honestly, to listen to Matthews, you'd think we American Catholics were the only ones who exist.

Archbishop Dolan was very personable, first time I'd seen/heard him speak. He pointed out, among other things, that dissent in the church is nothing new. The apostles were arguing before and after Christ's death and resurrection.

Even though the coverage has begun to tilt toward, as they put it over at Get Religion, "the New hampshire primary with vestments and incense," I am still a bit in shock over seeing people like George Weigel, Fr. Neuhaus, John Allen, Janet Smith et al interviewed in MSM (even if I do have to put up with Tucker Carlson and Chris Matthews telling me what it means to be Catholic.) And who would have ever thought we would hear the Litany of Saints on CNN/MSNBC?

I think they are all chomping at the bit to cover the conclave, however. That's probably when it will get really painful to listen.

Cheeky Lawyer

This Salon article http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/04/02/pope/index.html by Amy Sullivan makes a few valid points but swings and misses a great deal. As someone else on one of these threads once said, it is hard to see what the big deal is with her writing and work.

For instance, she writes:

"While John Paul II applied a fairly consistent ethic of life -- what the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin called the "seamless garment of life" -- the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a different stance. In 1998, the conference issued a letter called "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics" in which the bishops asserted that failure to following church teaching on abortion was more serious than any other issue, implying that a Catholic politician could neglect all other "life" issues and still be considered a good Catholic as long as he opposed abortion; at the same time, no amount of work for the poor or imprisoned or sick could save a pro-choice Catholic."

I don't think that is even close to accurate. It's also hard to take seriously someone writing about the faith who refers to John Paul's "ideological positions." Or to take seriously someone who falls into the same trap that so many covering the Pope's death are falling into, namely, the trap of thinking that the Pope's teachings on sexuality, ordination of women, etc. were idiosyncracies and not the teaching of the Church.

This morning Cardinal Szoka missed a golden opportunity on the Today show when asked by Katie Couric about the AP Poll which shows that 60 +% of Americans want the next Pope to push for change on the ordination of women and married men. He should have said, "Well, that shows that we as bishops have not been teaching well enough." He said it wasn't appropriate to comment, which it might not be now, but I really think two things are significant about these numbers. Perhaps up to 30-35% of those Catholics polled in America think the Church teaching is right on the ordination of women and second, our bishops really haven't done a good job of conveying the faith (I put the idea of the ordination of married men aside because I don't think it dissent to argue that we should look at that possibility though I am not convinced that the Church should go there.)


But that AP poll included Catholics and non-Catholics and did not distinquis between practicing and non-practicing Catholics.

Dan Crawford

Saturday evening, Chris Matthews carried on conversations with Ray Flynn and Pat Buchanan which actually shed more light than heat. He heard Ray Flynn speak an almost unbearable truth in today's America: We are Catholics first, and then politicians and Republican and Democrats. And our faith should inform our politics, not the other way around. Chris was hyper but he let both Ray and Pat speak and it was probably the most enlightening moment on faith and live that I have seen on TV - excluding EWTN (which unfortunately tends to have more unenlightening moments than enlightening ones - but it has at least enlightening ones).

So cut Christ some slack. His conscience is bothering him, and he is still at heart a smart-ass Catholic boy.


Good ol' American pragmatism, folks. We're simply not a spiritually-minded country. To us, a priest is doing a job, and once you look at it that way, the average American has a hard time coming to the conclusion that a woman shouldn't be able to do the job too. This sort of thinking permeates the American church because priests and bishops are Americans growing up in this American pragmatic culture. Look what happened when the Vatican said altar girls were OK: Overnight, every diocese in America adopted altar girls.

Jay Anderson

Anybody catch Pat Buchanan taking on "Sister" Joan Chittister last night on Scarborough Country?

The "sister" was doing her usual thing about how this Pope has "closed off debate" on subjects that really aren't settled Church doctrine (e.g., ordination of women), and has suppressed dissenting viewpoints. I kept thinking that if John Paul II had really suppressed dissenters, "Sister" Joan Chittister would be in the pulpit of some Episcopal Church rather than spewing her heterodoxy on the pages of NCR.

During Buchanan's response to Chittister's dissent, the woman would not shut her mouth to allow him to say what he had to say uninterrupted (providing a clear indication that the dissenters don't really want dialogue, they want THEIR WAY).

Buchanan finally got fed up and said "Lady, will you please be quiet and let me finish?" Scarborough corrected him by saying "It's 'Sister', Pat, not 'lady'."

I wanted Buchanan to respond "You'll forgive my mistake, Joe, I didn't see a habit." But that didn't happen.

Don Boyle

I caught a few minutes of the "Savage Nation" radio show last night. Someone was guest-hosting for Michael Savage. It was pretty awful. The host was using the Church as his stick to beat "Liberals"--though he clearly was not a Catholic himself and didn't understand Catholicism very well. He just seemed to like the authority thing. By that logic, you'd admire Castro and Kim Jong-Il for their use of "authority."

We don't need defenders like this. I wish I had caught his name.

Larry Tierney

I keep waiting for Christopher Hitchens to pop up and fill us in.

RP Burke

The conundrum. A picture being worth ...


Also see


Loren Z

Well it looks like the coverage is much better in the USA. I live in Canada, and the media has a wholed different spin. The atmosphere of the CBC reporting is to proclaim him a great man, and then bring every dissenter from under rocks to paint him as an authoratative tyrant who oppressed women and was unenligtened in regards to artificial birth control and abortion.

On Sunday after church we were interviewed by a reporter for a national newspaper. She asked what we thought of the pope and I gave a positive response. She then asked if there is now an opportunity for change and that the church should ordain woman and allow artificial birth control. I explained that the church is built on 2,000 years of history and konwledge and does not just change with the times. I said that in the 1930s in Germany should the church have changed to accomodate nazism when it was the zeitgeist? I said the times will be different in the future but the church will always be a source of stability and sanity. I comments were not published. Instead they found some local "Catholic" theologian/ethicist to proclaim that now is the time for abortion and birth control.

The whole coverage is very upsetting and there seems to be a orchestrated attempt to misslead the people and influence the events. Possibly to deflate the church's influence in the fight against the culture of death.


Jay, I caught Chittister and Buchanan last night. I could not watch it long. They are so far apart, what kind of dialogue worth listening to could there be? Chittister was busily scribbling notes as Buchanan spoke--that kept her quiet at times. God bless both of them!

Elsewhere on the coverage--I was struck by the streaming crowds in the square as the pope declined. Probably, most of the people are Italian (with some numbers of tourists, like the Polish). Most of what I've heard from friends returning from Italy --and other major parts of Europe-- is that the Churches are empty. With abortions free and unlimited in Italy, it's difficult to understand their great outpouring of praise for the the bishop of Rome--I mean there must be a difference of beliefs on pro-life and other major issues. Is it a feeling of tradition? The obvious is that JP II was such a great man that despite one's difference of opinion with him, he was admired by all. What are the politics like in Italy, does anyone here know? And why do American Catholics get slammed on these issues when naught is said of Europe's downward slide? Maybe I am just not reading the best commentaries, too local, too parochial? I don't want to take the thread down some wayward path, so if you want to email with links or info, that's ok.


Maybe I missed it, but has the MSM's favorite Catholic son been on camera? I'm speaking of course of John Kerry.

I was thrilled to see Christopher West on Fox. Imagine him debating life issues with Mathews or a dissenter. I wonder if it would shocking to many Americans to see a young man so passionate about the Theology of the Body.

One thing that the MSM can't fathom is the fact that American Catholics comprise what, less than 6% of Catholics worldwide? I'm having an increasingly difficult time understanding the arrogance of those who want to change their faith rather than let their faith change them. I just don't get it.


Maclin Horton

I have purposely limited the amount of tv coverage I watch, but I did see part of Paula Zahn's CNN show last night. Overall it was a mixed bag but the few minutes devoted to "women's issues" were pretty terrible. The most galling single thing was the statement that "the pope" (not the Church, of course) was stubborn about approving abortion because of his belief in the importance of motherhood. Or something.

Does anybody know who was the battleaxe to whom they kept returning for more angry commentary? I assume she was identified at some point but I missed it. At any rate she was about as off-putting as anyone could be--I told my wife she looked like the meanest-a** schoolteacher you've ever seen. I suppose she was an ex-, or God help us a current, nun.

Pat Gonzalez

Loren Z, I'm Canadian too, and I agree with you about the CBC TV coverage of the Pope's death. It extends to radio as well. Last night, George Weigel was on Ideas with his assessment of JPII and his legacy. That lasted for 45 minutes, then there was a dissenting voice. A woman (don't even remember her name) castigating JPII on his views re: female ordination, sexuality, etc. I listened for about 2 seconds and turned off the radio, shaking my head about the bad taste. Our "station of choice" so far has been CNN, with pretty good commentary from a number of people including Arch. Foley (very articulate), Jim Caviezel, (quite funny, with a good imitation of JPII's voice!), John Allen, etc. I'm seriously considering adding EWTN to our cable package.


I was disappointed, as I always am, by Father Mannion's performance on CNN's Larry King Live on Monday. Although he has a question/answer column somewhere, he doesn't seem to have a firm grasp on the tenets of the faith and sows seeds of doubt, mushiness and uncertainty.
King asked him if JP2 was afraid as he died. I'm sure he was, Mannion answered, we all wonder if it is all true.
JP2 was a man of rock solid faith whose message was "Be not afraid" and, by all accounts, faced death with confidence & joy.
Priests like Mannion should be enrolled in basic catechism courses, not on the airwaves misrepresenting the faith. Billy Graham's son (also on the program) spoke with more knowledge of JP2 and Christianity. Mannion's was a disgraceful performance and it speaks negative volumes about whomever employs him.


Father Corapi, a dynamic speaker and expert in doctrinal matters, has not been on anywhere yet, that I've seen.
In fact, CNN (see Michelle's comment above), why not have Corapi as your Catholic priest guest?


Deb, as an italian now living in Canada I have two thoughts on the discrepancy you noticed between the full St.Peter's Square and the empty Churches in Italy.

First, the two million people who are expected to pay tribute to the Pope would hardly fill all the Churches in Italy, give how many there are. Fact is, many people in Italy are strong Catholics and they make their presence felt, but certainly the old overwhelming "tradition" of going to church is not what it was anymore. Perhaps this is just a sign of less hypocrisy.

Second, many people, while behaving and preaching against Church teaching, feel in their hearts that there is something wrong in their approach and long for someone to tell them. Hence their respect for JPII, who told them like it is while supporting something that they supported too.

I only hope that the emotional level of the situation will call many people back to the Church. But we need to pray for that.


Christopher Hitchens?!? Bite your tongue. I confess I am not ready to forgive ABC-TV for interviewing him during the consecration at Mother Teresa's funeral. Who did they think woke up in the middle of the night to watch? Certainly not people who wanted to listen to him when the action on the screen was what it was.

G Shroff

I've been following a variety of stuff - more on the 'net than TV. AOL's new Spanish-language service, AOL Latino has some great positive coverage. Not much analysis that I can see. Maybe the folks in charge realize that this is part of the faith of the overwhelming majority of their "demographic" and they should tread respectfully? Quite unlike a couple of weeks back when in response to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's comments about The DaVinci Code, they ran a feature saying that the Vatican had condemned the book and ordered the faithful not to read it!
I too am wondering why the networks are so taken in by dissatisfied American Catholics, but make nothing of the big disjunct in Italy between those who say they're Catholic, but hardly go to Church, and, especially in the realm of sexuality, ignore her teachings. Italy has the lowest birth-rate in Europe, after all! Maybe it's because the networks are American and can't think beyond these shores ...?


>>>Second, many people, while behaving and preaching against Church teaching, feel in their hearts that there is something wrong in their approach and long for someone to tell them. Hence their respect for JPII, who told them like it is while supporting something that they supported too.<<<<

Roberto, I noticed this in some of the comments from Italians. There was one middle-aged Italian lady interviewed (in the newspaper) devoutly saying a Rosary and crying for the Pope and at the same time told the reporter she didn't go to church, was living (without marriage)with her boyfriend and didn't feel guilty about it. At the same time she didn't say (as many Americans) do that the Pope was wrong and she was right but that the Pope gives the world ideals that we SHOULD live up to. She didn't say like the MSM does that Pope should change his views.

Jay Anderson

Since the death of John Paul II, we've seen a number of media outlets conducting polls which find that a "majority of Catholics" want the newly elected pontiff to have a different position than John Paul II on the issues of
(1) the ordination of women,
(2) birth control, and
(3) stem cell research.
(Apparently, and I'm sure to the shock of the media pollsters, the polls show that about 60% of Catholics agree with John Paul II on his opposition to abortion.)

Aside from the question of why these issues are being framed as the Pope's personal opinions rather than the teachings of the Catholic Church, I have another question:

Why isn't anyone conducting any polls on whether the new Pope should have a different opinion than John Paul II on the death penalty and on the Iraq War?

There couldn't be a liberal agenda at work here could there? Nooooo, of course not.

Nick Frankovich

Don Boyle criticizes last night's fill-in for Michael Savage. Don may be right. But, as he raises the subject of Michael Savage, I want to put in a good word for Savage.

He says he grew up in a secular Jewish household and discovered later in life that God exists. He has done irreverent riffs on the Bible and is well-informed about many things but not about religion. He speaks about controversial issues in blunt language, but he avoids profanity and vulgarity. He's sort of a conservative Lenny Bruce.

He also avoids the language of piety, but his instincts about matters of faith and morals are excellent. He has been relentless about the Terri Schiavo case. He praises "the Christians" for trying to save "a poor handicapped woman in Florida" from being starved to death. And then he started doing heartfelt riffs on how, on Good Friday, Terri Schiavo was a Christ figure. When it became clear that her impending death and that of the pope were coinciding, and when it was news that the pope now had a feeding tube: "And you don't think God is trying to tell us something!?"

Last Friday, Savage spent much of his time reading short passages from the writings of John Paul II. Savage might be the first to admit that he's ignorant about the intricacies of Catholic doctrine, but it's impressive how he can take a beeline to the heart of the Church's message and express his appreciation for that teaching in language that could hardly be more lucid.


Anybody see the NY Times today? They said it was time for some *serious* coverage about the papacy, non of this rock star stuff. So they turn to (drumroll please)
James Carroll

as the featured expert.

Choice quote:

"John Paul II has faithfully tried to preserve this medieval, absolutist notion of pope-centered Catholicism with everything going out from the Vatican."

Let's hear it for Carroll! Whadda man!


I love it when people only consider it fair reporting of their religon when the reporter genuflects to kiss the ass of the interviewee. C'mon. Get objective about your own faith, your own church, your own upbringing. Until the stauchly faithful can see outside the skinnerbox of the church, the questioning will not want to see in, seeing not the reflection of God in the stained glass windows, but the illusion of answers that some in the church live to protect. Are you so insecure that you cannot be interviewed by a reporter or have a newspaperman in your church? What have you got to hide or what are you hiding from God?


Hey pw.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be new here. If you hang around for awhile, I think you'll notice that many serious Catholics (here and elsewhere) are not only staunchly faithful but perfectly capable of seeing outside the "skinnerbox" of the church (whatever that means). More importantly, most understand that it's not the "illusions" of answers that are found in Catholicism.

In other words, it is clear that all too many of the MSM reporters *think* they know what the church teaches, but they are completely ignorant of the rationale behind those teachings. That leads to frustration (not insecurity) on the part of people who have been there, done that when it comes to facing up to all the doubts and difficulties that come along with understanding and accepting church teachings (which often fly in the face of the tide of US culture).

Get it?


And one more thing, pw, since you keep posting about things like liberation theology and seem to think you know what's "truly liberating" etc.:

From George Weigel:

"[John Paul II] spent much of the 1990s explaining that freedom untethered from moral truth risks self-destruction. For if there is only your truth and my truth and neither one of us recognizes a transcendent moral standard (call it "the truth") by which to settle our differences, then either you will impose your power on me or I will impose my power on you; Nietszche, great, mad prophet of the 20th century, got at least that right. Freedom uncoupled from truth, John Paul taught, leads to chaos and thence to new forms of tyranny. For, in the face of chaos (or fear), raw power will inexorably replace persuasion, compromise, and agreement as the coin of the political realm. The false humanism of freedom misconstrued as "I did it my way" inevitably leads to freedom's decay, and then to freedom's self-cannibalization. This was not the soured warning of an antimodern scold; this was the sage counsel of a man who had given his life to freedom's cause from 1939 on...."

Check our Weigel's book, "The Truth of Catholicism."


I think pw is playing with us. Is he JimmyMac? Have we been punk'd?

Eileen R

I've pegged pw as Tiny Yapper.

Cheeky Lawyer


I think it would be perfectly reasonable to think that the Pope had fear as he faced death. None of us has perfect love and even the Lord sweat tears of blood as he faced his Passion. Why should we expect it to be any different for any of us?

I actually believe the Pope may have been tempted more than most as he came closer to death. Why? Precisely because of his great responsibility, his great holiness, his great stature. What a great victory for the Devil to turn someone this great at his death. Now I have every confidence that the Pope was sustained by his deep belief in Christ. But it does not diminish him if he did fear or face temptations as the hour of his death neared. In my mind that would demonstrate his humanity. I am quite certain that even if he did face fear which I would expect he passed through it to the more glorious confidence that comes from knowing that Christ has won the victory for us.


I don't think an absolute monarch is one to speak of freedom, compromise and other such notions of discourse. Many of the bishops are prayerful enough to know that God created not only black and white, but grey.


Like I said, pw, do yourself a favor and pick up Weigel's "The Truth of Catholicism." I

The book is a quick and easy read and it looks at the faith through the prism of all of the hot button social issues that seem to bother you so much ie: the church's stubborn "refusal" to "liberate" us by going along with what so many American Catholics say they want when it coes to birth control, homosexual behavior and "gay rights," abortion, women's ordination, etc.

For my part, I don't think you are a troll or attempting to "punk" (is that what Ashton K. would call it :-) or bait anyone. I think you are asking the questions that many others have asked and trying to make sense of the fact that this great, holy and intelligent man, who was so committed to human dignity and freedom for all people, could also be so committed to what the church teaches about women (re: abortion and ordination), birth control, homosexual behavior (notice I didn't say inclination), etc.

Hint: it's all about the very same commitment to human dignity and authentic freedom, not the rantings of an absolute monarch in a dress who can't see shades of grey.

I think you're smarter than that, aren't you, pw? I believe you probably want to be as well-informed as possible, right?

(Sincere apologies if I sounded confrontational in my earlier post.)

Cheeky Lawyer

Thomas Cahill has a piece lacking in thought and charity in today's NY Times:


Besides implying that Paul VI was the one who appointed Bernandin to the See of Chicago (JPII) (I suppose he means that Bernandin began his rise through the hierarchy through Paul VI), he also seems to have a historically incorrect of the early Church.

His misreading of John Paul II is fairly incredible. I am quite certain that JP II is the most modern if not the first truly modern pope. Cahill falls into the typical

He also must be attending Church somewhere else than in the States or the Third World (perhaps Ireland) because he states that the Church is in dire straits.

Also, he states: "The good priests have been passed over; and not a few, in their growing frustration as the pontificate of John Paul II stretched on, left the priesthood to seek fulfillment elsewhere."

My understanding which I believe would be demonstrated by the data is that JPII stemmed the tide of those leaving the priesthood. There were more priests in 2001 than in 1961. The number of vocations as a total sum has gone up during this pontificate.

And if anything John Paul II was not firm enough with dissenters. When Fathers McBrien, McCormick, Greeley and so many others can speak so freely without any fear of being called to task I will call myself unconvinced of the repressive atmosphere in the Church.


But I thought the sound of screaming babies was the soundtrack of the Mass! Where the heck _does_ this guy live? Or is he going to some kind of 6:30 AM daily Mass, and never encountering those among humanity who rise later?

Cheeky Lawyer

Here is Andrew Sullivan on the Pope:


"Last night on Hardball, I said what I think needs to be said. Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal. I was staggered to see Cardinal Bernard Law holding press conferences in Rome this week, and appearing on television next to the man who announced the Pope's death. But that was the central reaction of the late Pope to this scandal: he sided with the perpetrators, because they were integral to his maintenance of power. When you hear about this Pope's compassion, his concern for the victims of society, his love of children, it's important to recall that when it came to walking the walk in his own life and with his own responsibility, he walked away. He all but ignored his church's violation of the most basic morality - that you don't use the prestige of the church to rape innocent children. Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors. When truth met power, John Paul II chose truth. When truth met his power, John Paul II defended his own prerogatives at the expense of the innocent. Many have forgotten. That's not an option for the victims of this clerical criminality."

Now I will grant Andrew that the Pope likely could have done more and there are legitimate criticisms of how Cardinal Law has been handled. But this is yet another example of how uncorked he is. Where is the evidence that this Pope "acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors"? What about the Pope's comments to the U.S. Cardinals that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young?" (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/popeuscardinaladdress.htm)

And notice that Sullivan no where in his post speaks to the disordered sexuality that contributed to many of those rapes of minors. Surely this is part of the story, is it not?

Andrew Sullivan said on Chris Matthews that the Pope saw himself as the only authority in the Church and was not an innovative man. Perhaps we ought to just ignore Andrew Sullivan but he certainly is influential so we need to challenge his commentary.


Here some interesting coverage at Christianity Today's weblog about how evangelicals are praising the pope (you know, the former antichrist) even as Catholics of the predictable stripes denounce him


Jay Anderson

I want to follow up on a debate I was having with Whitcomb over the weekend on the first "Covering the Coverage" thread regarding what John Allen said on CNN about the legacy of the late Holy Father. I stated that Allen had referred to the Pope as "divisive" several times; Whitcomb disagreed that he used that term several times, and cautioned that I didn't hear the entire context. I agreed that I missed the context, but stuck by my assessment that Allen used the term "divisive" more than once.

Turns out we were both right. I promised to post the transcript when it was available, which I have done below. For the record, Allen did discuss the Pope's legacy in a broader context than I originally gave him credit for, but he also referred to the Pope as "divisive" or a "divider" 3 times.

"ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about this Pope's legacy. The positive and the negative: could you quickly tick off a couple of those in each column?

ALLEN: Well, of course, to some extent, Paula, that's a matter of perspective, isn't it? But sure, I think on the world stage there's little argument that John Paul has been a tremendous unifier. But it's not just his role as Chris Burns' piece just talked about, in putting Eastern and Western Europe back together and in helping to set in motion the dominoes that led to the fall of communism. It's also the fact that he has been a tremendous unifier between Christianity and Judaism, for example. No one will forget his very memorable, 1999 trip to the Holy Land, when he went to the Western Wall and left behind a note apologizing for Christian anti-Semitism. And yet, within Catholicism, strikingly enough, and let's not forget that part of his mandate is to govern the catholic church, this has been, to some extent, a bit of a divisive pontificate. There is a liberal wing in the church that on a range of issues feels quite disaffected from this pontificate, not so much the pope himself, but the pontificate. There's a conservative wing, obviously, that feels quite energized by it. And that's a bit the paradox of the man. A great unifier on the world stage, outside the boundaries of the church, but a bit of a divider, perhaps necessarily so from his point of view, but nevertheless, a bit of a divider inside the church".


After Ronald Rychlak, law professor at Ole Miss and author of "Hitler, the War and the Pope" demolished James Carroll and exposed him as sloppy in research and dishonest in reporting, it is curious that the NYTimes would call on him to distort and to slander the latest Pope who can't answer back.


Believe it or not, many people have a faith that is genuine and strong. Mannion didn't say he was sure the devil was tempting the pope; he said, basically, that the pope didn't believe with certainty what he proclaimed all his life. Jesus sweat blood when considering the sins of mankind, including yours and mine, for He knew us before we were born.
I stand by what I wrote: JP2 was a man of rock solid faith whose message was "Be not afraid" and, by all accounts, faced death with confidence & joy.
Mannion is a disgrace.

Cheeky Lawyer

First, Michelle it was Father Manning not Father Mannion. Second this is what he said:

"I think we all fear death. I think we all fear the unknown. And that's probably one of the -- well, it is the greatest unknown that we have. Faith is -- faith is a battle, I find in my own life. It's a battle of putting trust in the words of Christ to believe that he's there. But then there's in my heart this desire to put my seat belt on, to take my pills, to go to the doctor and do everything that I can to avoid death. And it's that tension.

But continually saying, Lord, give me the strength to be at peace with the eventuality of my death, and the promise that I will live with you forever -- at peace with that. It's hard. It's hard. And I know that he struggled, everyone struggles. But I think he had a peace in his love for Christ and Christ's love for him."

I don't see how it makes Father Manning a disgrace to suggest that the Pope had some fear as he faced death. I have no idea if he did but it would not surprise me nor would it horrify me if he did. Of course it wouldn't surprise me if he was at peace the whole time.

Rock solid faith is not the same as perfect faith and love. Even John Paul II as great as he was did not have perfect faith and love I expect because he suffered from a big infirmity, namely, his humanity.

Cheeky Lawyer

Here's the caption on one of the Yahoo photos:

"A US Roman Catholic woman prays at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle 01 April 2005, in Washington. Pope John Paul II is credited for some advances by women in the Catholic Church, but his conservative social views have alienated many who have had difficulty reconciling Church doctrine with their everyday lives(AFP/File/Brendan Smialowski)."

Where are these many alienated Catholic women? I don't deny there are some, perhaps even many, but I don't know many of them. I do know many Catholic women who love the Church, JPII, and Christ's teaching.

Eileen R

For my part, I don't think you are a troll or attempting to "punk" (is that what Ashton K. would call it :-) or bait anyone. I think you are asking the questions that many others have asked and trying to make sense of the fact that this great, holy and intelligent man, who was so committed to human dignity and freedom for all people, could also be so committed to what the church teaches about women (re: abortion and ordination), birth control, homosexual behavior (notice I didn't say inclination), etc.

I'd believe that if PW every replied to anyone. Instead s/he posts randomly in every thread and never engages in discourse.


Great thread, guys.

I can't wait for ABC to announce that "Catholic experts" John Dominic Crossan and Paula Frederiksen will cover the funeral and conclave.


What makes Manning or Mannion "a disgrace" is his shaky grasp on the basics of the faith (as evinced in his column and in other tv appearances), his consequent mischaracterization of those basics and his willingness to display his mushyness in exchange for face time on tv. He's there wearing a collar and he ought to realize what he was asked to bring to the table: expertise, not shaky uncertainty.
As for the show in question, he was asked if the Pope doubted his faith at the end (however it was worded, that was the import of the question). He could have said, "I don't know". Or, "not according to all reports". Or, "a man who spends 26 years saying 'be not afraid' is probably not afraid".
Instead, he talked about his own problems: "Faith is -- faith is a battle, I find in my own life. It's a battle of putting trust in the words of Christ to believe that he's there. But then there's in my heart this desire to put my seat belt on, to take my pills, to go to the doctor and do everything that I can to avoid death. And it's that tension."
This is a ridiculous and disgraceful answer to the question posed. And, of course, it's all about him.
If "faith is a battle", I am confident it is a battle the Pope won long ago.

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