News Release

Views on Legacy of John Paul II


Engler, a commentator for Foreign Policy in Focus, wrote the recent article “John Paul II’s Economic Ethics.” He said today: “A steady feature in Pope John Paul II’s obituaries has been mention of his unwaveringly conservative stances on issues such as abortion, birth control, gay rights, and the ordination of women. While these positions were sources of consternation for many U.S. Catholics, they far from represent the whole of John Paul’s ethical beliefs. Particularly in his teachings about the global economy, the Pope advanced a vision of social justice that challenges narrow political debate about ‘moral values.’ … Most specifically, the Pope strongly supported the Jubilee 2000 coalition’s call for thorough-going debt relief for the developing countries. He stated in 1998 hat ‘the heavy burden of external debt. … compromises the economies of whole peoples and hinders their social and political progress.'”
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A former Washington Post columnist, McCarthy is founder and director of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C., and the author of the book I’d Rather Teach Peace. He said today: “The greatest thing John Paul II did in my view was to meet with and forgive Mehmet Ali Agca, who attempted to assassinate him. The worst thing he did was the way he chastised and in effect dismantled the liberation theology movement which was trying to alleviate the suffering of poor people around the world. In the pedophilia scandal, the Church just denied and covered up like most any other organization. He did come out against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but did not instruct Catholics to refuse to fight. He did not equivocate when it comes to abortion or artificial birth controls, but he was not as emphatic against war. The Catholic Church still subscribes to the ‘just war’ theory established by St. Augustine, so it has no claim to really being a peace church in the same way that Quakers, Mennonites and Church of the Brethren are peace churches.”
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A longtime political activist, McReynolds wrote the recent article “Reflections on the Death of a Pope.” He said today: “On the positive side was the effort by John Paul II to stop the Iraq War. About his concern with this, and the extent of his efforts, there can’t be any doubt. Nor do I question the integrity of his opposition to the death penalty. And, as those Catholics who read this will know, the Pope raised questions not only about ‘the materialism of Communism’ but equally sharp questions about the materialism of capitalism. … Pope John Paul II used his power to ordain Cardinals who generally ‘share his views’ (ie., reactionary cardinals). He used the power of his office to silence vigorous dissent and debate on matters of doctrine within the Church.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167