The Catholic Church, Post-John Paul II

The Church Needs a Saint
E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
April 3 2005 5:53 PM

The Catholic Church, Post-John Paul II



The "conservative" Catholics that you ask about certainly want a successor who affirms the legacy of John Paul II. No one expects the successor to have the charisma or media presence of our deceased Holy Father. What's important to them is the pope's commitment to the basic themes of JPII's papacy, which I would list as order, orthodoxy, and evangelism.


There might be better words to describe the legacy, but I think these terms represent the church that JPII tried to set in order after the post-Vatican II confusion, the return to fundamental teaching represented by the encyclicals and the new catechism, and energy JPII infused into the church by his travel and message.

I also noticed how the news coverage changed quickly after his death yesterday. Most of the coverage, with the exception of CNN, had been quite respectful and accurate in their coverage. By late yesterday afternoon, the naysayers were everywhere and Chris Matthews was doing his usual rant. Overall, however, I commend the TV media for their treatment of his final hours and death. On Friday and Saturday morning, MSNBC offered commentary that rivaled Fox for its willingness to accept JPII on his own terms, with a minimum of pre-postmortem. Regardless of any media missteps, the American public is getting a crash course on the Catholic Church, and that is good.

I am uncomfortable with prognostication. I know it is natural at a moment like this, two weeks from a conclave, to speculate on the choice. I really believe, as I am sure you do, that this choice will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Because of that I would not be surprised by any choice, since I don't think it will result from a purely political process or calculation. When it is announced, there will be those on either side calling it a victory for "conservatives" or "liberals." But we really don't know what kind of pope any of these cardinals would be until he takes office and bears that responsibility. I have no doubt this man will undergo a transformation as he assumes the chair of St. Peter.

One last point on your first question. There are many ways a pontiff can take control. He doesn't have to do it in the style of JPII. He can do it quietly through the power of his sanctity and love for the church. The church doesn't need its pope to be a philosopher. The church needs saints above all. I hope that the next pope is a saint.

Deal W. Hudson


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Nobody Knows How Many Gay Married Couples Live in America—Not Even the Census Bureau

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 7:46 PM Azealia Banks’ New Single Is Her Best in Years
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.