Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

infallibility in a way he studiously avoids in an ecumenical context. This was verified in Istanbul and now in Canterbury. But it does have a positive aspect. If the pope learns to speak with the difficulties of other Christians in mind, he may learn something useful about the ecumenical potential of his office. He may discover what is essential to it. He may find out that the Vatican definitions are a burden rather than an asset.

In which case this on-off-on visit will have been the turning point of the pontificate.

It has not been without its moments of humor. Cardinal Basil Hume, the Benedictine monk plucked from relative obscurity to be archbishop of Westminster, was asked by the 8-year-old son of the dean of Canterbury, "Why don't you become the next archbishop of Canterbury?" Hume thought for a moment and said: "Well, Thomas, when you grow up, you'd better become prime minister, and then you can fix it."


24
Opus Dei 'rejoices' in its new autonomy

( September 10, 1982) Rejoicing was great but discreet recently among the 72,375 members of the religious organization Opus Dei. They are involved in 604 newspapers, 52 radio or TV stations, and 36 news agencies throughout the world. With one accord they agreed that Aug. 23 was the greatest day in the history of the movement since it was founded in Spain by Msgr. Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer in 1928.

What happened? Pope John Paul had agreed that Opus Dei should be considered a "personal prelacy." But what does it mean?

Opus Dei had long had a sense of its originality and uniqueness. It believed it did not fit into the available Procrustean bed of canon law. It resented being lumped together with religious orders and secular institutes -- a secular fish among religious fowl.

Opus Dei had a good point. Its members do not lead a "consecrated life." They do not take vows. Instead they have something

-104-

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