March 21, 2005

The legacy of John Paul II

Sunday, March 20, 2005


THE PONTIFF IN WINTER: Triumph and Conflict in the Reign of John Paul II, by John Cornwell; Doubleday, 336 pages, $24.95.

As one of the longest-serving and most active popes in history, John Paul II has left an indelible mark on the Roman Catholic Church. But how will history judge his pontificate?

It is a question that pervades John Cornwell's account of John Paul's remarkable life.

As a Polish cardinal, he was an unlikely choice in 1978, when the College of Cardinals elected him to, in Cornwell's words, "the strangest, most impossible and isolating job on earth." John Paul II became the first non-Italian pope since 1522 and, at age 54, the youngest since 1846. ...

John Paul's major legacy, Cornwell believes, will be his centralization of authority in the Vatican and his enfeeblement of local dioceses - an important reason why bishops did so little to rein in the priest sexual abuse scandal. Bishops thought they lacked the authority to act decisively.

Posted by kshaw at March 21, 2005 06:56 AM