the church, considerable money and effort were directed toward compensation of victims and eradication of the problems.
In 1998 John Paul II moved to curb liberal academics within the church. In an apostolic letter, he advised that the church's profession of faith, as reformulated in 1989, was binding in terms of canon law. The sweep of his meaning was made clear by a doctrinal commentary simultaneously released by the conservative Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. By widening the definition of what was considered infallibly taught doctrine, Vatican officials gained the force of canon law in disciplining dissenters. Within a few weeks the pope further acted to tighten control of the 108 national bishops' organizations, ruling that they could not make binding statements on doctrinal or public policy issues that differed from the position of the Holy See. Moreover, the conferences could issue binding statements to their regions only if these were unanimously supported (an unlikely case). Otherwise, such statements had first to be approved in the Vatican.
With his health failing, Pope John Paul II took steps to assure that his views regarding the church and its teachings would be upheld after his departure. Critics suggested that his choices of bishops and cardinals, though far more ecumenical than in previous eras, nevertheless focused on individuals of his own persuasion, thus stultifying doctrinal debate. Whatever the case, by February 1998, Pope John Paul II had appointed 106 of the 122 cardinals eligible to vote for his successor. His influence on the church and on the world would not easily be forgotten. And if some Catholics still protested that the papacy was moving too slowly on internal church matters, there was no denying that the Holy See was a major participant in the creation of a new Europe.