Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

these two different approaches could be harmonized and reconciled. There'here was much talk of "building bridges."

Meanwhile John Paul II has been at every session, except once when he was at the general audience. He has heard many of his favorite theses challenged. He cannot be enjoying himself. On Oct. 12, he will get a chance to recoup: with all the synod bishops, he will celebrate a mass for families in St. Peter's Square. It will be a great rally, a demonstration of the "silent faithful," a pro-life display.

Perhaps the most important part of Ratzinger's report was his final sentence: "It will be the task of the discussion groups to decide the concrete goals toward which this synod must aim." The working papers prepared in advance are not forgotten: the future of the synod lies with its members. □


15
John Paul: Is the style the man?

( October 17, 1980) Most commentators on Pope John Paul II discuss, properly, the content of what he has to say. I would like to concentrate, for a change, on the literary style of his homilies and speeches, especially during his visit to Brazil. This is based on the conviction that "the style is the man."

A preliminary difficulty is that the pope's speeches are written in Polish. On this occasion they were translated into Portuguese, then into Italian, and finally they made their laborious way into some sort of English. Few poets could survive such a linguistic mauling. Yet it is surprising how much of John Paul's characteristic style comes through.

One feature of his rhetoric is the way he interweaves human experience and its theological interpretation. His inaugural sermon at the Brazilian Eucharistic Congress was a good example. Its theme, "Where are you going?" was an invitation to consider the concrete problems of "inner emigration" within Brazil in the context of the whole meaning of life.

In his homily John Paul switched from level to level. The painful realities of emigration in Brazil were faced, the pastoral problems

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