April 16, 2005

Theisen: John Paul II leaves some tough issues for next pope

Des Moines Register


April 16, 2005
I remember well my grandmother's happiness when it was announced that John Paul II became pope. I remember well this small woman who raised a large Catholic family of my aunts and uncles through the Depression and war years.

I remember well her walking hills to attend daily Mass at her favorite church. She would seldom accept a ride back, because walking gave her time to say the rosary. I remember well that I couldn't call Grandma on a certain night as she watched and listened to Bishop Sheen.

I remember well when Grandma, knowing my wife's Polish heritage, made the innocent, giddy announcement to my wife and me that a Polish cardinal had become pope.

I also remember well the hope that sprung within me when John Paul II summoned U.S. cardinals to Rome in April 2002, telling them "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young." He said sexual abuse, committed by the religious, was "rightly considered a crime by society" as well as "an appalling sin in the eyes of God."

Finally, we had a pope who would reach out to victims of religious sexual abuse, a pope who championed human dignity, a charismatic pope who traveled the world to reach out to the universal flock of the Catholic Church and beyond. We could now begin our journeys, in which the misplaced shame and guilt of our abuse would no longer consume our inner souls.

John Paul apologized to Muslims, Jews, Orthodox Christians, Italians and even to scientists for the persecution of Galileo. But John Paul never apologized to victims of religious sexual abuse.

Posted by kshaw at April 16, 2005 07:29 AM