April 07, 2005

U.S. sees effect of late pope

The Observer

By Mary Kate Malone
Published: Thursday, April 7, 2005

Pope John Paul II was nothing less than an international globetrotter. When he visited the United States for the first time in 1979, Americans granted him unprecedented celebrity status for a religious figure. Despite his enormous popularity, the U.S. Church and the pope have had a complicated relationship from the beginning.

Under John Paul II, the Church saw an increase in the number of Catholics on a global level, a reinvigoration of Catholic conservatism and a new appreciation for the youth of the world. But the late pope also leaves behind him a struggling Church in the United States, a church that clashed with the Vatican over John Paul II's firm control of church leadership and refusal to compromise with American Catholics seeking a more democratic approach. ...

The U.S. Church, though united in its mourning of the pope, is struggling with internal problems.

In 2002, the sexual abuse crisis and the revelation that many predatory priests had been relocated rather than removed caused many Catholics to desire a greater voice in choosing local church leaders. The Vatican refused to change its policy.

As a result, many Americans turned their anger toward Rome. Kaveny said the empowerment of local leadership could have helped ease the minds of concerned American Catholics.

Posted by kshaw at April 7, 2005 12:29 PM