Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

No theologians are named. So another line of defense from moral theologians will be to say that their views have been caricatured in the encyclical, and therefore that "they have not been hit, not even grazed."

That may not be enough to save them. □


59
Pope soldiers on, carries weight of seven decades

( October 22, 1993) Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Kraków, was elected pope Oct. 16, 1978 -- 15 years ago. He doubtless would say that the anniversary of his priestly ordination, Nov. 1, 1946, was more important, for he insists that he remains first and foremost a priest.

John Paul was 73 May 18. Last time he was back in Poland, he heard people singing the traditional Polish greeting, Sto lat -- meaning "May you live to be a hundred years." He quipped: "If this pope lives so long, your grandchildren will be coming to see him. And what could be done with such an old pope? I can see only one solution: He'll have to run away and live in a monastery."

He was not entirely joking. He might one day go back to the Carmelite monastery he tried to join in 1939. ("You're born for higher things," they said: Ad majora natus es, which sounds very worldly coming from Carmelites.) In 1995 he will reach 75, the age at which bishops must tender their resignation -- to him. But to whom can the bishop of Rome offer to resign?

Official Vatican sources insist the pope's health is fine and that he suffers no ill effects from his July 15, 1992, operation. Suggest the contrary and you will be accused of "wishful thinking" -- wanting him dead. I expect he will soldier on, health and God permitting, until the year 2000, a date which fascinates him like the eye of the basilisk. The Vatican objects to resignation talk because it suggests a lame-duck papacy.

Everything the pope does -- especially his energetic travels -- refutes the speculation. Though the foreign trips are a little less de-

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