April 03, 2005

Louisianians react to the death of a pope


4/3/2005, 2:02 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

(AP) On Sunday morning at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, there was no escaping a link between the two news stories that had the attention of much of the nation all last week.

Archbishop Alfred Hughes, during Sunday morning Mass noted that John Paul the II had been a victim of violence a shooting in a May 13, 1981, assasination attempt. Then he touched on the death of a severely brain-damaged woman following an extended legal fight over whether her feeding tube should be removed.

Hughes left no doubt where he stood: "We have also experienced the sad victimization of Terry Schiavo and her tragic death." ...

"Like everyone, I'm certainly saddened by his passing. I think he was one of the great popes of church history," said Jason Berry, a Catholic and a freelance journalist.

Berry praised John Paul's "remarkably honest" approach to church history including an unprecedented apology to Jews for past wrongdoings by Catholics as well as foreign policy achievements.

"Obviously his role as a catalyst in helping to bring down the Soviet empire was quite extraordinary," Berry said in an interview with The Associated Press.

But Berry was critical of John Paul's passiveness in dealing with a burgeoning scandal involving pedophile priests. Berry helped uncover the scandal with a series of stories on Acadiana priest Gilbert Gauthe in the 1980s and in the book "Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children."

"On balance, I think it a papacy marked by paradox: The greatness of the early years shadowed by the failure of the later years and his imability to confront the needs within the church itself."

Posted by kshaw at April 3, 2005 04:48 PM