Five Reasons Why I Don't Like Pope St. John Paul II

1. I agree with these paragraphs written by Stephan Faris in the April 28, 2011 issue of TIME magazine:

For much of John Paul's papacy, the church's sex abuse crisis bubbled mostly underground. But when it did break through the surface, the pope's response was most noticeable for its absence. Hans Hermann Groer, an Austrian cardinal accused of abusing more than 2,000 boys over several decades, was made to retire as bishop of Vienna when the scandal broke in 1995, but was never punished or forced to apologize. (Groer died in 2003.) The Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado continued to receive John Paul's support after allegations emerged in the late 1990s that he had abused seminarians.

"Time and again, John Paul simply refused to take the hard decisive steps that a visionary leader would take," says Jason Berry, author of Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, and two books on the sex abuse scandal. "The way he responded to the accusations against Father Maciel by basically ignoring them, acting as if they didn't even exist, is not only a sign of a terrible denial on his part, but also an unwillingness to confront the full impact of evil." Maciel remained unpunished until after the John Paul's death in 2005, when Benedict XVI ordered him to leave the ministry for "a life of penitence and prayer." Maciel died in 2008.

2. I also agree with these paragraphs written by Barry Healy in his February 1, 2008 review of Confronting Power & Sex in the Catholic Church, Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson:

Robinson first rose to prominence when he was assigned to coordinate the Australian bishops' response to the abuse crisis in the late 1990s. He won respect for his integrity and the experience changed him fundamentally as he recalled his own childhood abuse.

While winning reverence for his work with victims, he discovered that he had been reported to the Pope for once saying, in passing, that he wished for more support from Rome in the matter.

Robinson has meditated on the experience and has concluded that if John Paul II "had spoken clearly at the beginning of the [abuse] revelations, inviting victims to come forward so that the whole truth, however terrible, might be known and confronted, and firmly directed that all members of the Church should respond with openness, humility, honesty and compassion, consistently putting victims before the good name of the Church, the entire response of the Church would have been much better. With power go responsibilities. The Pope has many times claimed the power, and must accept the corresponding responsibilities."

3. I also agree with these paragraphs written by John Horan in an open letter to Cardinal Claudio Hummes in 2006, when Cardinal Hummes was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy:

The Vatican has zig-zagged for years about laicizations. Under Paul VI when large numbers were leaving, there was a fairly straightforward, but slow process. John Paul II pursued a much harder line, apparently in the belief that he could stem the tide by making laicizations virtually impossible. It didn't work. The unintended consequence was to diminish the credibility of the process. In his later years, he switched to a strategy wherein a petitioner had to lie, and state that he never really had a vocation at all. Most of us could say that we had a genuine vocation to priesthood, but not to celibacy.

I left the Vatican priesthood during the late 1980s when the church was NOT granting formal dispensations from the obligation of celibacy. During my "exit interview" with Cardinal Bernardin he said that I could apply for a dispensation, but it would not be granted until I was much, much older. I remarked that the Vatican was playing hardball. He agreed, but his eyes told me that he had no stomach for such silly tactics.

4. I also agree with these paragraphs written by Thomas A. Shannon and James J. Walter, published in Theological Studies 66 (2005):

The Terri Schiavo case in Florida focused attention on a variety of issues related to the end of life: who is the decision maker, the status of advanced directives, the role of family members with respect to married adult children, and issues related to the removal of life support systems, particularly assisted nutrition and hydration.

When one reads the 2004 allocution by John Paul II on assisted nutrition and hydration, there is a methodological shift to deontology and determination of principles by definition or stipulation. Briefly, the pope stated that such tubes were "not a medical act" and their use "always represents a natural means of preserving life" and is part of "normal care." Therefore, their use is to be considered in principle ordinary and obligatory. "If done knowingly and willingly" the removal of such feeding tubes is "euthanasia by omission." The person's medical condition is not really relevant in making a determination about the use of feeding tubes, except if the body cannot assimilate the fluids or the intervention does not alleviate the suffering of the patient, because the food and water delivered through such tubes is ordinary care and provides a benefit -- "nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering.

What is interesting about this papal allocution is that it seems to represent a significant departure from the Roman Catholic bioethical tradition with respect to both the method and the basis upon which such decisions are made. Historically, the method for making a determination about the use of a medical intervention was the proportion between the benefits of the intervention and its harms or burdens to the individual, family, and community. The method is a teleological balancing of the impact of the intervention. This has been the central teaching of the tradition from the mid-1600s through Pope Pius XII and the 1980 "Declaration on Euthanasia" by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The method announced by Pope John Paul II appears to be deontological in nature. The use of feeding tubes to deliver artificial nutrition and hydration is stipulated as in principle ordinary, and such an intervention apparently must not be forgone or withdrawn unless or until the body cannot assimilate the nutrients or they do not alleviate the suffering of the patient."

5. I also agree with Nery Amaya, Miguel Ventura, Maria Lopez Vigil and Dean Brackley, cited by Chris Kraul and Henry Chu in an article published April 10, 2005 in the Los Angeles Times:

Millions of people came together last week to mourn Pope John Paul II, but you'll hear no tearful elegies from believers such as Nery Amaya, a Catholic for all of her 28 years.

Amaya charges that under the late pope, the church was too timid in its ministry to the needy, and maintains that John Paul's efforts to put the brakes on social activism cost the Latin American Catholic Church membership as well as momentum in the fight against poverty and injustice.

"The church has to come down from heaven to the reality on Earth," Amaya said. "It's not filling my spiritual needs, and I am looking for an alternative."

Former priest Miguel Ventura doesn't much mourn the pope's passing, either. The diocesan cleric left the church during El Salvador's 12-year civil war, in which he was captured and tortured by military forces because he had organized peasants to demand social justice.

"The arrival of Pope John Paul II was a step backward for El Salvador," said Ventura. "He imposed the authoritarian model on the Latin American church and didn't have an open vision."

Maria Lopez Vigil, a former nun who is now a journalist in Nicaragua, accused the pope of taking "the side of the powerful" in the conflicts that convulsed Central America in the 1970s and 1980s.

"He cost the church members," she said, "but even worse, made hundreds of thousands of people uncomfortable with a God they thought was intolerant."

"The pope was listening to those who were portraying liberation theology in caricatures -- priests with guns, Marxists -- and they just weren't accurate," said Dean Brackley, a theology professor at the Jesuit-run Central American University in San Salvador.