Vatican Notes & Quotes

Pope Reveals Faults of Both Left and Right

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES,JAN 28—In “Perspectives on Papal Visit,” commentator Benjamin Schwartz observes that Pope John Paul “can't help but make the political class squirm.” Conservatives like the Pope's stand for traditional morality but wonder at his criticisms of unrestrained capitalism. Liberals call for a greater sharing of the wealth but are not anxious to quote papal teaching on personal conduct.

“Those who call themselves conservatives fail to recognize that the free market they embrace destroys the ‘community’ and family values’ they espouse,” wrote Schwartz. “At the same time, what passes for the left in America seems not to realize that the unlimited autonomy of individual desire and the ‘personal liberation’ that it celebrates goes hand in hand with the very economic system it finds so disquieting.”

At bottom, the Pope troubles both groups, said Schwartz, “because his position exposes the inconsistency and hypocrisy of their views and the hallowness of the political and cultural debate.” He argues that the two “are opposite sides of the same coin, and together their views would form a potent political force.”

Some Protestants Don't Like the S-Word

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS,Jan. 27—A number of Protestant officials have complained about Pope John Paul II's reference to their denominations as “sects” during his recent visit to Mexico.

“The Pope seems to say that sects are those that practice ‘proselytism,’ which he defines as evangelism that is unfair, deceptive or coercive,” reports Richard Ostling of the Associated Press.

“I don't think the Pope has a mean bone in his body,” said the Rev. Cecil Robeck, Jr., of California's Fuller Theological Seminary, who fears that term could be used indiscriminately for any non-Catholics.

Catholic observers pointed out that when the Pope speaks of “the challenge of the sects,” he is directing his energies toward toward Catholicism itself, which “needs a closer pastoral touch with its people…, better sermons and its own evangelistic initiatives,” reported Ostling.