April 10, 2005

Iowans' wish list for next pope: Address celibacy, female roles

Des Moines Register

April 10, 2005

Many Iowa Catholics hope the next pope will be more receptive to such controversial issues as optional celibacy, ordination of women and birth control, but theologians and experts say John Paul II's successor is unlikely to be swayed by those American concerns.

The issues of poverty and AIDS facing Third World countries where Catholicism is growing most rapidly are expected to be more important to the next pope, who will be selected this month by the College of Cardinals.

"The Third World is where the Roman Catholic Church's center of gravity really is," said Mark Achtemeier, associate professor of systemic theology at the University of Dubuque Seminary. "Which means we in North America may play a lesser role in the life of the global church. U.S. Catholics may not be totally marginalized, but they may not be the center of the universe we've assumed ourselves to be." ...

Although John Paul II reached out to Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians, it took him a long time to do the same to victims of child sexual abuse by clergy.

"To say John Paul was uncaring would be in error," said Steve Theisen of Hudson, co-founder of North East Iowa Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"For whatever reasons, the pope was ineffectual in reaching out to survivors and demanding accountability of bishops who covered up the sexual abuse scandal," Theisen said. "The challenge of the next pope is to tear down the walls of an arrogant, out-of-touch church hierarchy."

Posted by kshaw at April 10, 2005 05:48 PM