Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview
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definite as to be emptied of all content." But nobody is dancing in the streets.

"This will be a thorny pontificate," said another Gregorian professor, "and a cause of deep suffering to theologians and intellectuals. It is true that they do not make up the whole church, but they are an important part of it, and there is no point in making them feel angry, hurt and bewildered."

"The pope," said another, "has tried pastorally to occupy what he thinks is the center ground in the church. He wanted to bring a sense of joy and unity. He has taken action to the left and to the right, and told them both that there are limits. But the limits have been rather hastily drawn. We will know just how things stand when, as is rumored, there is a reconciliation with ( Archbishop Marcel) Lefebvre."

Pope: Africans must adhere to Roman rites, rule

( May 16, 1980) Pope John Paul II packed his doctrinal message to Africans into the first days of his trip. The rest would be dancing and celebration. The adjectives -- "exuberant, boisterous, vivacious" soon would be exhausted.

But he gave his message to Zaire. It is the largest country he visited, and the one with the most Catholics -- half the 29 million population -- and the most bishops (66). As usual on these trips, the speech to the bishops was most decisive. John Paul stressed the limits of "Africanization."

"It covers," he said, "vast areas, many of which have not been properly explored." The Africans would have to learn to be patient, to bide their time. Poland, he pointed out, had taken 10 centuries to assimilate Christian faith and culture. It seemed a strange comparison in the equatorial heat, but it was meant to introduce the personal touch.


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