Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

Finally, on Tuesday, June 21, the sun came out in Wroclaw and prepared an emotional reception and farewell in Kraków. Citizen Walesa got his audience in the end.

General Jaruzelski will have some explaining to do after the visit. It did not go according to plan. It signally failed to demonstrate that "normality" has returned to Poland. It did not win the "legitimation" or blessing that had been hoped for. So he is exposed as a hollow man. He is worse off than before. The consequences are unpredictable. In Poland, the unpredictable is usually tragic. □


29
John Paul five years later: Reassertion and restoration

( October 14, 1983) Pope John Paul's pontificate has now lasted longer than that of Pope John XXIII. Its direction has been clear from the outset: reassertion and restoration are its watchwords. After five years, it seems useful to ask how much John Paul has learned about being pope from the two predecessors whose names he adopted.

There is no training program for future popes. Their idea of the papacy is influenced by tradition, the cultural atmosphere, and by the way popes in their lifetime behave. They learn the metier of pope by watching others at work.

Sometimes, they learn what not to do. There is a well-attested story that John, asked by a new and anxious archbishop of Le Mans how he could possibly succeed the wise, good and learned Cardinal George Grente, member of the French Academy, comforted him by saying: "Don't worry: just be like me -- the opposite of my predecessor."

It is true that John did not attempt to compete with Pius XII on his own ground -- those 20 volumes of magisterial and encyclopedic teaching. He did not aspire to exercise infallibility. Instead he inaugurated a new pontifical style, less hieratic and remote, more fraternal, pastoral and "collegial" (a forgotten word he revived).

John and Paul provided the immediate "models" for John Paul. These were the popes he knew personally, though he was not as

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