Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pope John Paul II

Juan Cole has assembled a valuable collection of statements by Pope John Paul II who often spoke out against the prevailing interests of the wealthy and powerful and, despite his conservative stances on a few issues, proved to be progressive in many ways that are worth celebrating. For example, he condemned laissez-faire economic ideology and favored the rights and dignity of the worker. Free trade, he claimed, is not an intrinsic good, but must be restrained from the excesses of workers' exploitation and degradation. Thus, he supported movements of worker solidarity, e.g., unions. Furthermore, he challenged Europeans, especially the European church, to come to terms with its permissive role in the Holocaust, but he also championed the rights and welfare of Palestinians in the Middle East conflict. He condemned the death penalty, and he opposed the Iraq War. In general, his message not to be afraid was a message of hope following the devastations of the 20th century, and his tendency in all further conflicts was to seek ways to avoid the repetition of those disasters. If his legacy is one that leaves the Second Vatican Council unfulfilled in certain respects, it is more so one which commemorates some laudable and progressive achievements.


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