Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview
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The visit to Portugal bodes ill for his visit to Britain, for it is evident that he feels much more at home in Fatima than ever he could in Canterbury. To visit the first was a long-standing dream; to visit the second is a chore.

One was left wondering just what a liberation theologian -- they are numerous in Portuguese -- speaking Brazil -- would make of the pope's emphasis on Fatima. Pope Paul VI made it more intelligible than John Paul. After visiting the place, Paul said, "Fatima made sense in the light of what happened at Hiroshima."

'Popular cause' ecumenism espoused by 'John Paul III'

( June 11, 1982) It was always known that Pope John Paul's visit to Britain would be different. For the first time he was going to a country where Catholics were in a minority -- 9 percent -- in relation to other Christians. For the first time a trip had been arranged on the theme of the seven sacraments rather than according to categories. And for the first time he was going to a country at war.

But no one expected to see a new model Pope John Paul -- John Paul III, as one Vatican expert put it. John Paul disconcerted, in a most welcome way, his habitual camp followers. It was as though, having established his authority in the church, he can afford to ease up and show "the smiling face" of the papacy.

The key factor was that he followed the English bishops' advice. If they said: "It would be tactless to put it that way," he put it another way. He behaved like a thoughtful first-time guest, which he was, rather than the inspector general come to restore order and discipline. Even his references to contraception were vague and noncommitting.

He flattered the English as "a fair-minded and generous people." He said: "I have always admired your love of freedom, and your generous hospitality to other peoples in their adversity."

He said that in Westminster Cathedral, a few hundred yards from the Hotel Rubens, where Polish commander Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski had his headquarters during World War II. He quoted the


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