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Unchanging teachings

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 Contents - Jun 2005AD2000 June 2005 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Corpus Christi - the Body of Christ
Habemus Papam: Benedict XVI charts course as successor to John Paul II - Michael Gilchrist
He was my Pope, too: a Lutheran's appreciation of John Paul II - Uwe Siemon-Netto
News: The Church Around the World
The Catholic Church's dissenters miss the boat - Chris Hilder
Benedict XVI and liturgical reform - Dom Alcuin Reid OSB
Mother Teresa's legacy continued at Georgetown University - Peter Reynolds
Papal awards for WA Catholic politicians - Hugh Ryan
The previous Pope Benedict and his quest for world peace - R.J. Stove
Letters: John Paul the Great? - Patrick Ryan
Letters: Papal election - Frank Bellet
Letters: New Pope - Deidre Lyra
Letters: Unchanging teachings - Greg O'Regan
Letters: A true shepherd - Lynn Wise
Letters: Another Parish - Peter Gilet
Letters: Pre-Vatican II myths - Douglas V. Boyle
Letters: Chavagnes College - Pascale Cotterill
Letters: Outstanding education at Chavagnes College - Br John Moylan CFC, MA, MEd
Letters: Revolt manifesto - P. Gartland
Letters: Sanity? - Tom King
Letters: Catholic schools - Kevin McBride
Letters: Sponsorship request from Uganda - Joise Nasuna
Letters: Kathmandu school - John E.J. Fetz
Events: Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul - Fraternity of St Peter
Events: Juventutem WYD 2005 Cologne Pilgrimage - FSP
Books: John Paul the Great, edited by William Oddie - John R. Barich (reviewer)
Events: Catholic Doctors' Association Mass and Dinner
Poetry: Sonnet on the Election of Pope Benedict XVI - Bruce Dawe
Books: More Good Reading from AD Books
Reflection: Cardinal Nguyen van Thuan: witness to the priesthood and Eucharist - Fr Dennis Byrnes

Prior to the death of John Paul II there was a view that he should resign or retire on health grounds. His last testament reveals he wondered too. Some urged from pity, others worried about his capacity, some saw it as an organisational matter and some within the Catholic Church thought a change would relax strictures of Church teachings in their favour.

Advocates of such proposals fail to understand that the Pope's role is a spiritual one. To the orthodox Catholic, a Pope is the continuing representative of Christ and thus is charged with responsibility for the preservation of Christ's teaching. The Church claims a Pope is infallible only in matters of faith and morals. His judgements in prudential matters could be as fallible as those of any leader.

A Pope has, by dint of his office, Christ as his spiritual and actual role- model. Christ, who, for mankind, bore misunderstanding, ostracism, humiliation, suffering, and, obedient to the divine plan, died. As a corollary, popes, through the ages, have not had a pleasant time, even the worst among them. It is a rare pope who did not experience misunderstanding, division and disobedience within the Church, persecution, slander, imprisonment, maltreatment, exile, torture, martyrdom, or attempts upon his life.

For all that, the Church they led, endured as Christ promised it would, teaching the absolutes that Christ directed.

Perhaps John Paul II suffered too publicly for modern sensitivities. Well aware of the example he was giving, he bore illness and incapacity publicly but continued, as he saw it, the mission of Christ on earth. John Paul II could not depart from the teachings of Christ to please his critics, and no future Pope can either.

Farrer, ACT

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 18 No 5 (June 2005), p. 14

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