The pope carried these church views onto the world's stage. In , as countries planned a United Nations conference in Cairo on the potentially catastrophic population explosion projected for the 21st century, he orchestrated a campaign against draft proposals favoring abortion rights, contraception and other measures endorsed by feminists and population experts. The campaign -- the Vatican's most concerted in years on international policy and the pope's most heartfelt since his crusade against Communism -- put a heavy strain on his relationship with President Clinton, who favored safe legalized abortion and efforts to stabilize a global population that experts said could grow to 8.
The Cairo conference adopted a strong declaration endorsing family planning and giving women more control over their lives to help stabilize populations. But the Vatican shaped the language so that it did not enshrine any universal right to abortion and excluded abortion as a means of family planning.
In , the pope appeared to be at pains to stress his support for women's rights. He credited the women's movement with positive achievements and offered an apology for injustices against women in the name of the church. But Vatican comments on the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, signaled no major changes in church teaching that portrayed women as mothers, educators and mainstays of the family. A theologian who had campaigned for the openness introduced by Vatican II, Cardinal Ratzinger shared the fear that the church was fragmenting and the belief that the innovations of Vatican II had to be channeled and disciplined.
With Cardinal Ratzinger giving a new luster and militancy to papal authority and to the conservative theology that had long prevailed in Vatican offices, John Paul's administration took a form that some regarded as a throwback to the monarchical papacies of the 19th century. Dissident Catholic theologians were dismissed or excommunicated.
Heroes The Popes in Hard Times
Liberal cardinals and bishops were replaced. And in , the pope changed canon law to put many passionately discussed issues, including euthanasia and the ordination of women, beyond the realm of debate for the faithful. He also made it almost impossible for groups like the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States to make statements of doctrine or public policy that diverged from the Vatican. In the same vein, in , under the pope's orders, the Vatican admonished all Roman Catholic lawmakers to oppose legalization of same-sex marriage and adoptions by gays and lesbians.
In January this year, the pope unequivocally condemned gay marriage. Over the years, there were protests, petitions and other acts of dissent, especially in America and Europe, in response to the hard-line stances of the pope. In some countries, church attendance declined, and there were defections by priests.
Predominantly Catholic Ireland voted to remove its constitutional ban on divorce, and 1. Italy, 84 percent Catholic, was a living protest in the 's: it had Europe's lowest birthrate, a sign of popular disdain for prohibitions on artificial birth control. No one doubted the power of John Paul's voice or the depth of the feelings he evoked. But his personal popularity aside, many Catholics -- especially in America and Western Europe -- were distressed by his unswerving opposition to change, even in the face of crisis.
The depth of distress was never more profound than in the priest-pedophile scandals in America, which broke in after decades of predatory abuse and suffering hidden by out-of-court settlements with victims and a revolving door of treatment and new assignments for offending priests. The scandals exploded in January after disclosures that Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston had for years sent the Rev.
John J. Geoghan Jr. He was eventually accused of molesting children and sentenced in one case to 9 to 10 years in prison. In August , the defrocked Mr. Geoghan was strangled by an inmate at a Massachusetts prison. Cardinal Law, under pressure, gave prosecutors the names of 80 priests accused of sexual abuse over the decades, although the Massachusetts attorney general eventually reported that at least children and probably more than 1, had been sexually abused by priests and other church workers in the Boston Archdiocese since Within weeks of the disclosures, bishops across the country began a purge, removing scores of accused priests and turning names, dates and details over to prosecutors.
Emboldened, hundreds of victims made accusations, many of them decades old and unprosecutable under statutes of limitations.
But some criminal cases were prosecuted and hundreds of civil suits were filed. Facing enormous settlements and financial crises, some dioceses had to sell property. Polls showed growing disaffection among Catholics, and for months the pope and the Vatican remained aloof. But in April , after the American bishops asked for guidance, the pope summoned America's cardinals to Rome for a conference on the scandals.
It produced no sweeping changes. The pope acknowledged the suffering and offered an expression of concern that was taken by many to be an apology. Calling the abuse criminal and "an appalling sin in the eyes of God," he said, "To the victims and their families wherever they may be, I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern. But he sent conflicting signals on a proposed zero-tolerance policy, saying there was no place in the priesthood for those who abused minors, but then suggesting that some offenders might warrant a second chance.
American cardinals proposed removing some priests who abused minors, but drew a distinction between serial predators and those who were "not notorious. Instead of approving the policies, however, the Vatican voiced reservations, saying the bishops had gone too far in eschewing a statute of limitations, in broadly defining child sexual abuse and in requiring that all sex abuse claims be reported to the police. The Vatican said some of the remedies might violate canon laws that protect the rights of priests, and it recommended further "reflection" by a commission partly controlled by Vatican emissaries.
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He was succeeded in July by Bishop Sean P. O'Malley, a Franciscan friar who swiftly met with some abuse victims and began trying to heal the wounds with financial settlements and a new tone of open dialogue. Last year, the pope chose Cardinal Law to head St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome. Aside from the sex scandals, many American Catholics said the church and the pope were out of touch. Women, blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, and even some priests and nuns urged him to be more sensitive to their needs.
He usually voiced sympathy, but urged the supplicants to remain faithful to church teachings, which were not altered. The result was a restoration of strong centralized authority in the pope. While that strength endeared him and the church to many, it repelled others who believed that the future of Roman Catholicism lay in greater diversity and flexibility, dispersal of power and adaptability in a swiftly changing world. The pope's relations with Jews were both troubled and pathbreaking.
More than any modern pope, John Paul moved boldly to end the estrangement between Catholics and Jews. He was the first pope to pray in a synagogue, the first to acknowledge the failure of individual Catholics to act against the Holocaust, the first to call anti-Semitism a sin "against God and man," and the first to make an official papal visit to the Holy Land.
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Jews were often dismayed with his decisions and pronouncements. But he established diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel and set the course of Catholic-Jewish relations on a high plane of engagement and warmth, in contrast to the distance and frigidity of earlier eras. His meeting at the Vatican with Yasir Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was met with blistering criticism from the government of Israel and from Jews around the world. The pope said afterward that he only wanted to foster peace in the Middle East.
And he would not be deterred: he met Mr. Arafat eight more times. The Vatican supported peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians, but debate over the status of Jerusalem was a continuous sore point: Israel saw the city as its "united and eternal" capital, while the Vatican pressed for its recognition as a city holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews alike. The pope wrote an apostolic letter in evoking Christian sorrow over the Holocaust, and in -- a decade after promising to do so -- issued a historic document, "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah," which apologized for the failure of many Catholics to protect Jews in the Holocaust.
While the Vatican viewed the document as groundbreaking, many Jewish groups rejected it because it praised Pius XII's "quiet diplomacy" and did not cite his failure to speak out against the Holocaust. The church held that Pius had personally helped to save thousands of Jews, but did not publicly criticize the Nazis for fear that even more Jews as well as Catholics might be killed. Even after John Paul delivered the most sweeping apology ever made by a pope -- a public act of repentance for the errors and misdeeds of Catholics over the last 2, years that was woven into the liturgy of a Sunday Mass at St.
Peter's Basilica on March 12, -- Jewish critics were quick to note that he had not specifically mentioned the church's behavior during the Holocaust. Leading Jews constantly scrutinized papal statements and often decried phrases in which they detected rebukes of Jews for rejecting Christianity or suggestions that Judaism's validity was exhausted with the coming of Jesus. Papal aides said the criticisms had stung the pope, who spoke often of a common Christian-Jewish biblical heritage and made other overtures to Jews. In , he met Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel at the Vatican, and in made the first recorded visit by a pope to a synagogue, entering Rome's Central Synagogue and, to ringing applause, hailing Jews as "our elder brothers.
The wounds were reopened from time to time. Jews were outraged when nuns set up a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz in Polish Catholic leaders said it would be relocated by But the deadline passed, Jewish protesters entered the grounds, and Cardinal Josef Glemp of Warsaw denounced them in a way that sounded anti-Semitic. The convent was finally closed in by a papal order.
Cassidy, head of the Vatican office for relations with Jews, and John Paul's standing with many Jews had been restored by , when a group was formed to study diplomatic relations. After 17 months of talks, the Vatican and Israel formally recognized one another with diplomatic accords in December , and six months later, in June , the Holy See and Jerusalem established full diplomatic relations with an exchange of ambassadors. It was a political and religious milestone.
But within months, the relationship was troubled anew. In August , John Paul conferred a papal knighthood on Mr.
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