Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview
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There was a semblance of argument to justify this exclusion. All church consideration of women must be based, said the pope, on "two firm principles: the equal dignity of women and their true feminine humanity." "Feminine humanity" is a curious giveaway phrase. Either there is humanity or there is not. In which case it is difficult to see how the "equal dignity of women" can be combined with their exclusion from the priestly ministry. So a special category of humanity, "feminine humanity," has to be devised to maintain the exclusion.

So everything the U.S. bishops said in their reports was accepted, then stood on its head.

Geoffrey Chaucer said of his "poor student,""Gladly would he learn and gladly teach." John Paul in the United States has been more interested in teaching than in learning.

Yet he is not without a Polish sense of humor. In his meeting with Catholic secondary educators in New Orleans, he improvised a few remarks. "I have come here as a student," he said, "so as a student, I thank you for all you have taught me this morning." He hoped he would get good marks.

"By their sustained applause," concluded the news story, "the educators told the pontiff he had made the grade."

Visiting pope listened, rejected 'lay ministry'

( October 2, 1987) During his visit to the United States, Pope John Paul listened almost as much as he spoke. This was the great originality of this trip compared with the 35 international journeys that had preceded it. The pope was undoubtedly the star, but other voices were heard as well.

The visit was, therefore, like a dress rehearsal for the synod starting in Rome next month. It mimed the synodal process in two ways.

First, the purpose of the synod is officially to "provide information and give advice" to the pope. The 23 speakers who addressed


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