G H Williams. New Catholic Encyclopedia Supplement. Editor: Polly Vedder. Gale, 2000.
By his choice of name, John Paul II honored his immediate predecessor of thirty-three days and, like him, pointed to the two popes of Vatican II, John XXIII and Paul VI. The choice was a clear signal that he intended to continue the implementation of the council’s work, as he stated in his first major address of 17 October 1978. In that and other addresses and gestures following his election, John Paul II signaled the style and substance that would become characteristic of the first decade of his pontificate. He identified episcopal collegiality as “the special cohesion” that unites the bishops of the world with the Bishop of Rome in the magisterium. In speaking to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, he called for freedom of religion for all. In an address to journalists he called for proportionate coverage of “the spiritual aspects of the Church.” He signaled his emphasis on Marian devotion in the design of his papal coat-ofarms that features a large M under the cross. In the formal enthronement on 22 October 1978, he eschewed the tiara. In its absence, in his inaugural homily he meditated on its three crowns as plausibly reflective of the threefold office of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, a motif he related to the Vatican II references to the People of God as “a kingdom of priests.”
From the outset John Paul II abandoned the sovereign “We,” intending thereby to affirm the continuity of John Paul, the pope, with Karol Wojtyła, the bishop, priest, artist, and scholar. In testimony of this, he authorized the publication of the bilingual, analytical Karol Wojtyła negli scritti (1980). The collection arranged his 1,490 titles in seven languages under the headings “poet, philosopher, theologian, pastor.” Verbal and conceptual currents from these writings, though uncited, remained detectible in his papal pronouncements for several years. On 12 November he took liturgical possession of St. John Lateran, his cathedral see as Bishop of Rome, completing thereby the inaugural formalities of his pontificate, and beginning what would turn out to be the intensive and extensive discharge of his primatial duties in Italy by many visitations in Rome and throughout the Republic (70).
Early in his pontificate, John Paul II made two appointments that signaled the direction of his policy and thinking in political and doctrinal matters. He appointed Agostino Casaroli to succeed the deceased Secretary of State, Cardinal Jean Villot. Named a cardinal in June 1979, Casaroli had previously distinguished himself as chief negotiator of the Vatican in Eastern Central Europe. The other figure who was to have high visibility in the first decade of John Paul’s papacy was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, formerly archbishop of Munich, appointed Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981. Ratzinger, a peritus at Vatican II and an established theologian in his own right, gave the Congregation new energy in its efforts to safeguard the integrity of Church teaching. This zealous concern for orthodoxy, already evident under his predecessor Cardinal Franjo Seper, was manifest in the disciplinary action that the Congregation initiated against such prominent theologians as Jacques Pohier, Hans Küng, Edward Schillebeeckx, and Charles Curran. The first apostolic constitution issued by John Paul, Sapientia christiana (May 1979), regulates the appointment of faculty in pontifical universities; actually a dozen years in formulation, it unmistakably bears his stamp.
John Paul on Pilgrimage
In the first decade of his pontificate, John Paul II undertook 37 trips to about 50 countries, to several more than once. In the course of these travels, the pope has developed a certain ritual—a pattern of visitation. Upon arriving in a country for his first visit, he kisses the ground (usually the airport tarmac). He is received at some point as a temporal sovereign by the head of state; he addresses the diplomatic corps, the bishops, the priests, the religious, and besides the lay faithful in and outside cathedrals, the general population in stadiums and other places of assembly. He singles out special groupings: youth, farmers, urban workers, the poor, the sick, the handicapped. He visits at least one Marian shrine, meets at least once with the local Polish community, and seeks out minority groups, often speaking in their language when different from that of the majority (indigenous peoples, the ethnically marginalized, undocumented workers, refugees). He makes an effort to have at least one intra-Christian and one interfaith ecumenical conference and among the faithful, he solemnizes at a beatification of local servants of the Church or announces forthcoming canonizations in Rome.
On every major pilgrimage it has come about, following the model that emerged on his first (to Mexico to address the Latin American Episcopal Conference), that the local itinerary and some of the themes are worked out with the regional or national episcopal conferences. John Paul at junctures along the route responds to a series of position papers submitted in advance and studied by him in Rome well before his arrival. His own prepared responses and major addresses, seldom modified in actual delivery, take on the aura of encyclical letters in that he later cites himself from this growing body of globally delivered instruction, counsel, and exhortation. The pilgrimages gain him direct access to the attention of the media, and this further extends his audience to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and allows him to admonish, persuade, and engage readers, listeners, and viewers to hear his message.
In the course of these papal visitation there are typically three eminences (in whatever pragmatic sequence): the Bishop of Rome listens to, confers with, and instructs the assembled bishops of the land; the Sovereign of Vatican City meets with the head of state or his deputy to discuss issues that sometimes touch on relations of Church and State, but more often on broad humanitarian and social questions; and the Supreme Pontiff and pastor omnium celebrates the liturgy with the people and commits the country visited to the protection of the Virgin Mary.
Mexico, Poland, the U.N. and The U.S.
In his first “pilgrimage of faith” beyond Italy (25-31 January 1979) he kissed the tarmac in Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola, where Mass was first celebrated by Spaniards in the New World, and then flew on to Mexico to give the keynote address in Puebla at the Third General Assembly of Latin American Bishops (CELAM). The pope deplored in liberation theology the interpretation of Jesus as solely a prophet in the OT sense of social critic. Warning against any construing of political, economic, and social liberation as coinciding with salvation in Jesus Christ, he defended the sole magisterium of bishops and their truth that brings with it an authentic liberation, and warned against “parallel magisteriums” in misguided seeking to implement the preferential love of the poor by an over-socialized and politicized gospel.
The messages he delivered in Mexico related thematically to his impending inaugural encyclical, Redemptor hominis (March 1979). He reminded priests that they “are not social directors, political leaders, or officials of a temporal power.” He clarified the triple mission and office (triplex munus) of the Redeemer in the Church and the world amid a rich tapestry of themes, then dealt scripturally with Christian anthropology and promoted the ongoing dialogue of salvation within and beyond the Church.
John Paul returned to Poland (2-10 June 1979) on the occasion of the ninth centenary in Kraków of the slaying of Bishop Stansislas (d. 1079). Notable was the more than a minute of utter silence of over a million in the meadows of Kraków meditating on the presence of their former archbishop and Pope among them. He reiterated the theme of his first encyclical that humanity cannot be understood fully without Christ at the center of history. Within European history he stressed the spiritual unity of Old Christendom, Catholic and Orthodox, and (at Gniezno) on his own providential role as the first Slavic Pope with responsibility under the direction of the Holy Spirit “at this precise moment” to lead Europeans back to their Christian sources. Although John Paul made no direct allusion to the communist system, he was so devotedly, attentively, and peaceably received by such masses of his fellow Poles that his first visit to Poland is widely credited retrospectively with having energized and channeled the national labor movement Solidarity in achieving by peaceful means an extraordinary (if temporary) reordering of Polish society, its industry and agriculture.
It was in response to the invitation of Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary General of the United Nations, that John Paul conceived of his third journey abroad, which lasted from 29 September to 7 October 1979. En route he stopped for two days in Ireland where he and the Cardinal Primate agreed he would deal straightaway with the stubborn and urgent Irish problem. At Drogheda on the River Boyne, close to the Republic’s border with Northern Ireland, he solemnly and firmly called for an end of terror and pointedly insisted that violence on either or any side should never mask itself as Christian, being instead ongoing fratricide.
He gave six addresses to the United Nations community in New York, including an address to the XXXIV General Assembly. He expressed the wish that the U.N. never cease to be the forum for the global discussion of problems, called for the primacy of spiritual values in the behavior of individuals, among professionals of all kinds, and in societies at large, appealed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as both an inspiration for, and a test of, appropriate international and domestic behavior. He also called for “the just settlement of the Palestine question” and renewed the call of his predecessor for a special statute under international guarantee for Jerusalem, sacred to three religions. He expressed growing concern for Lebanon, encouraged the reduction of arms, and dealt systematically with the current and long-range threats to human rights and peace, including neocolonialism and societal and other “structures” that condemn persons adhering to spiritual or transnational values to the status of second or even third-class citizenship in a materialistic society.
In the United States, familiar to him from two earlier visits as cardinal, his instructions, exhortations, and admonitions dealt with political-constitutional issues (freedom of conscience and of religion), on life-family issues, and on socio-economic issues (“consumerism,” migrants, the unemployed). The themes were not new, for he was drawing on papal precedent, Vatican II, and on his own pre-papal teachings; but he was explicating them for the first time on a large and challenging scale in a religiously, ethnically, and constitutionally pluralistic society, conveying his views as engagingly and winsomely as possible in the idiom of citizens of a superpower.
In his address in Yankee Stadium, New York, he appealed to Americans to take from their substance and “not just from their abundance” for the poor in their own country and in the Third World. In Philadelphia before the representatives of diocesan priests, he held up the eternal vocation of the priest, who as a “man for others” leads the congregation in persona Christi in eucharistic worship. In the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the presence of the archbishop of the Ukrainians, Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, he placed the vocation of the various Catholic rites and jurisdictions in a larger setting, reminding all Byzantine-rite Catholics that in their traditions they “are called to adhere with love and respect to certain particular forms of discipline,” alluding here to the imposition of clerical celibacy in the diaspora and other accommodations in an adapted canon law, which he and his predecessors, he said, “have judged necessary for the well-being of the whole body of Christ.”
In Des Moines he addressed the world of the farm belt. In Chicago, among others, he addressed the assembled bishops of the U.S., recalling his own gratification in working through a national episcopal conference, stressed the collegiality formulated by Vatican II as the completion of Vatican I, and then emphasized points already made by the bishops in their pastoral letter of 1975: on civil rights regardless of race or ethnicity, on five lifefamily issues (faithful monogamy, divorce, contraception, homosexual activity, abortion, euthanasia; to which would later be added a seventh magisterial instruction on genetic and embryological technology). He underscored the decisive and indisputable roles of each bishop as authoritative teacher with respect to both priests and nonepiscopal theologians (the magisterial issue), recalling the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, St. John Neumann, as an ideal; and he called upon each as the liturgical president to see to it that any development in the parish services should remain “theocentric,” that intercommunion not be resorted to as a means of achieving ecclesial unity (one of the several ecumenical issues), and that the priests under them adhere to the proper limits of general absolution and concertedly foster the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Welcomed in Washington as a head of state, he was received by the President and Mrs. Carter in the White House. He addressed diplomats, journalists, and the Catholic University community of the U.S. on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington.
Second Pontifical Year
On the first anniversary of his pontificate, John Paul issued the apostolic exhortation Catechesi tradendae in response to the request of the 1977 Synod of Bishops (in which he had participated as cardinal). It highlighted the need for systematic catechesis, adapted to the needs of the modern world. At the end of November 1979, John Paul was in Turkey, visiting Ankara, Istanbul and Meryam Ana (the Marian shrine near the site of ancient Ephesus). He was received as a head of state by the government, and he reminded the small Catholic community of moral values held in common with Muslims. The climax in Istanbul of the intraChristian fellowship took place in the cathedral of St. George in the Phanar, when in the course of the liturgy, presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I, the Pope called for a new dialogue of charity, looking forward to full intercommunion, and co-announcing the establishment of two theological commissions to help to this end.
Early in 1980 John Paul convoked two extraordinary national synods in Rome. In the unprecedented particular synod of the Dutch bishops (14-31 January) he was instrumental in the formulation of a document that pulled back the Dutch church from a number of positions advanced by some leaders. In the synod of Ukrainian Catholics (24-27 March), their archbishop in Philadelphia was made coadjutor to Major Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Slipyi, but the erection of a patriarchate (controversially presumed by the Cardinal) was synodally rejected for, among other reasons, it would exacerbate the condition of the underground Uniates in the Soviet Union. In May 1980 the Pope told the Italian bishops’ conference that they were “in charge of the Church of Italy.”
For his part, he had already begun the process, foreseen by his predecessors in the revision of the concordat with the Republic of Italy, of distancing official Catholicism from the Christian Democratic Party. In May John Paul entered upon his first pilgrimage to black, primarily equatorial, Africa. At the outset in Kinshasa (Zaire) he declared that “Christ, in the members of His Body, is Himself African,” a phrasing he would come to adopt for many non-European peoples. A distinctive theme, in addition to extensive treatment of life-family issues, as he moved across Zaire (during the centennial of its church), the Congo Republic (Brazzaville), Kenya, Ghana (during the centennial of its church), Burkina Faso (Upper Volta), and the Ivory Coast, was inculturation, specifically the appropriate Africanization of the gospel. He warned against its vagaries, particularly being reserved about some excesses in liturgical accommodation. He took cognizance of polygamy, observing that monogamy was not a European but rather originally a “Semitic” ideal of conjugal love and partnership. In addressing heads of state and diplomatic corps he underscored the independence and universality of the Church and the propriety of plenary freedom in the exercise of religion as consonant with all legitimate national and decolonializing aspirations.
The first visit to France was occasioned by the invitation of the director general of UNESCO. In a major address to UNESCO’s executive council in Paris (2 June 1980) he summoned the leaders of science, technology, and government to promote the highest of cultural values and notably the dignity of every person in whatever the form of society. He warned against the misuse of wealth and technology, and the disfigurement of global life by inappropriate concentration of wealth and power.
From 30 June to 12 July he was in Brazil. In thirteen cities and sites in the most populous Catholic country in the world, he participated in the tenth National Eucharistic Congress (Fortaleza), in the silver jubilee of CELAM (Rio de Janeiro), and in the concentration of the new basilica of the principal Brazilian Marian sanctuary (Aparaceda). Among his emphases distinctive to the Brazilian scene, he noted the harmonious melding of different indigenous, imported, and immigrant ethnic groups and cultures in a pluralism that could be dangerous, however, if all norms and standards were dissolved in relative and mutual selfishness. Going beyond his positions at Puebla, he provided unambiguous support for the progressive sociopolitical orientation of the Brazilian bishops, endorsed labor unions working not exclusively through a single party (Sao Paulo), acknowledged the ecclesial character of the base communities, and defended the much reduced indigenous population in their traditions and in their jungle habitats (Manaus).
In his apostolic letter, Sanctorum altrix (11 July 1980) on the fifteenth centenary of the birth of St. Benedict, John Paul reminded the people of the continent of Europe of its saintly patronage and deplored the new paganism in the very lands where pioneering monks had held aloft the dignity and discipline of work, prayer, and stability.
Third Pontifical Year
John Paul convened the sixth general assembly of the Synod of Bishops (26 September-25 October 1980) on the theme of the family. He embodied the important points of its deliberation, close to his mind and heart from prepapal days, in the apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio 22 (November 1981), and endorsed them in another form, The Charter of Family Rights (late 1983).
Momentous was the Pope’s seventh pilgrimage abroad, to the Federal Republic of Germany (15-19 November). He observed that the scheduling of his pastoral visit was occasioned by the seventh centenary of the death of Albert the Great, and he took notice of the fact that his visit coincided with the 450th anniversary of the imperial diet that received the Augsburg Confession. He said that, as Martin Luther had once been a pilgrim to Rome, so he came as a pilgrim to Germany, “to set with his pilgrimage a sign of union in the central mystery of faith.” To Catholic theologians assembled in the Marian shrine of Altötting he observed that Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism, in recognizing “a hierarchy of truth,” did not intend thereby to be reductionist, and thus he upheld as wholesome the ongoing disputation, fraternal dialogue, and openness among theologians, so long as they understood theology as derived from revealed Scripture, as transmitted and understood in the tradition, and so long as they acknowledged that “the magisterium and theology have two different tasks to perform.” He articulated most emphatically the recurrent “magisterial issue,” namely the unique teaching of bishops in collegiality with the Bishop of Rome. The Pope was notably warm in his expression of universal gratitude to the German “genius” in the history of culture and scholarship, and currently in the generous aid to the Third World.
His second encyclical, Dives in misericordia (30 November-2 December 1980) continued a theme of his inaugural encyclical. He concentrated on the role of the Church in reflecting the divine mercy and on the necessity of mutual human acts of forgiveness, “especially in this modern age,” based on the recognition of God as “our model of mercy,” alike in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
John Paul spent February 16 to 27, 1981, in Asia. In Karachi, Pakistan, he alluded to the Five Pillars of Islam when he emphasized three of them as common to Catholic Christianity, and tactfully clarified what was both similar and different on the remaining points. John Paul spent six days in the Philippines, where he addressed himself thematically to “the reckless exploitation of nature.” In Manila he beatified sixteen martyrs, among them a Filipino, the first time a Pope officiated at a beatification outside Rome (or Avignon). He forcefully addressed the disparities of wealth and poverty and impediments to human rights (President Ferdinand Marcos present), while counseling nonviolent socioeconomic change, addressed the Muslim leadership (Davao) in hope of mutual mercy between Muslim and Christian, and in an address to Chinese Catholics (in Manila) from various lands he signaled his hope that Catholics in mainland China could be regarded as both patriotic and loyal to Rome. In the space of four days in Japan, he met with the Emperor, met with Buddhist and Shinto leaders together, had a notable exchange with young adults in Keruan Stadium partly in Japanese (as he had previously said Mass for three months in transliterated Japanese) and on all stops (Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki) he stressed the theme of peace and nonviolence and the proper office of science and technology. He returned to Rome via Guam and Anchorage (greeted there by a delegation of Catholic prelates and President Ronald Reagan).
After a general audience on 13 May 1981, while he was riding slowly through St. Peter’s Square, an attempt was made on the Pope’s life by Mehemet Alí Agça, the Turkish rightist and convicted killer of a Turkish editor. The stricken Pope was rushed to Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital in peril of life from abdominal wounds. He was kept there until 23 May and was obliged to return for viral infection and foreseen restorative surgery (3 June-14 August). He recuperated with reduced duties at Castel Gondolfo. He would never again be able to be so accessible to crowds, a heavily guarded “popemobile” henceforth impairing the icon of the Universal Pastor among his flocks.
At an emotion-drenched trial, Agça, an escaped accomplice in the Piazza, and several other suspects (some in absentia) were accused, among other charges, of a conspiracy allegedly masterminded by the Bulgarian secret police. Agça was given a life sentence by the Italian court. In a dramatic act of personal reconciliation, the Pope visited Alí Agça in his cell in Rebibbia Prison (27 December 1983). The published photograph of the confidential exchange between the Christian victim-priest and the repentant Muslim assassin-by-intent served globally among Catholics and others as a powerful icon of penance in the confessional and absolution and in this case of extraordinary, exemplary mutual reconciliation. At another level of reconciliation, having addressed to Jan Cardinal Willebrands a letter on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the birth of Martin Luther, calling for a joint Catholic-Lutheran effort to study afresh the schism, John Paul visited the Lutheran church in Rome (11 December), to pray with its minister and congregation, an act unique in papal history.
In the midst of his convalescence there took place two major conciliar anniversaries: the 16th centenary of the Council of Constantinople (381) and the 1550th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus (431). During these observances (6-7 June 1981) concurrent in Rome and Istanbul, John Paul was able to appear for a five-minute message, in which he repeated a portion of the Nicene Creed as it had always been for the Greeks: without the Western addendum of filioque. In this, possibly the theologically most significant intra-Christian ecumenical event of his pontificate to date, there were representatives of five non-Catholic communions besides the Orthodox and a staff-member of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The main achievement of the closing months of the third year of his pontifical was his third encyclical Laborem exercens, originally conceived as celebrative of the ninetieth anniversary of Rerum novarum (Leo XIII’s great social encyclical). He theologically reconceived toil by the sweat of the brow not so much as punishment for the Fall but as a way to earthly perfection and mutual care and affirmed the workbench as the nexus of human life and a source of human dignity in the earthly calling of labor and service.
Fourth Pontifical Year
John Paul undertook seven trips abroad in 1982, undaunted by the attempt on his life. His tenth pilgrimage as Pope was his second to equatorial Africa (12-19 February), where he dealt afresh with inculturation, lauding the vitality and enthusiasm of the African soul, but insisting on monogamy along with his other life-family themes, while he upheld the universal character of the Catholic Church, whose authority should not be diminished under the pretext of safeguarding African values from foreign tutelage.
His pilgrimage to Portugal (12-15 May) had a poignant personal intention, for he wished to appear before the Virgin of Fatima on the anniversary (13 May 1982) of the attempt on his life. On the eve preceding, after the Rosary, a maddened priest of the Latin-rite Fraternity of Archbishop Marcel Lefébvre at Econe, Switzerland, wielded a knife as the Pope approached, shouting, “Down with the Pope and Vatican II.” At the Mass the next day commemorating the 65th anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin to the shepherd trio (the one survivor, the Carmelite Sister Lucia being present), the Pope, recalling the motherly severity of the original messages of 1917, reconsecrated the whole world to the Virgin and asked that she intercede for its deliverance from hunger, sins against life, injustices and from the incalculable destruction of nuclear war.
His pilgrimage to Great Britain (28 May-2 June 1982) was an act of apostolic valor, for it was during the war of Britain with Catholic Argentina over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). From Westminster, to Edinburgh, to Cardiff, John Paul made the celebration of all seven sacraments (from Baptism through First Communion and Ordination) thematic in his pastoral visitation of his English, Scottish, and Welsh flocks. His ecumenical celebration with Archbishop Robert Runcie in Canterbury cathedral was notable in the festive renewal together of common baptismal vows and an exchange of tokens against the background of the recent acceptance (the month before) of the final report of the Anglican-Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). Notable too, was the ecumenical coordination of services in the two nearly facing cathedrals in Liverpool.
Within scarcely more than a week John Paul was in Argentina on a mission of peace (11-12 June), deploring the war, as he had in Britain, urging a more rational and constructive patriotism, and conferring earnestly with the ruling junta in the presidential palace. Within days (15 June) he was in Geneva, where he addressed the sixtyeighth annual conference of the International Labor Organization, lifting up themes of his encyclical on work and proposing solidarity among government, workers, and employees, yet upholding the right of independent unions. His sixth trip of the year was to autonomous San Marino.
The Pope’s seventh trip of the year was his twicepostponed visitation of Spain, 31 October to 9 November. Near Basque country, he was firm in his appeal to eschew violence however noble the cause, speaking with the voice of “one who has suffered personally from violence.” He successively venerated the sites of SS. Teresa and John of the Cross. In the cathedral of Santiago de Compostella, in the presence of the King and especially invited representatives of the Common Market, he set forth his vision of a culturally united Europe, based upon shared Christian values, and he exhorted Europe, as one of the seven continents, to redeem the war torn past and to resume collectively its role as “the guiding light of civilization.”
Fifth Pontifical Year
With the apostolic constitution, Sacrae disciplinae legis of 25 January 1983, John Paul promulgated the Codex Iuris Canonici, revised as mandated by Vatican II.
Between 2 March and 10 March, John Paul visited all seven countries of Central America and Haiti. His overriding concern in Nicaragua was the emergence of a divided Church, nearly schismatic, “charismatic,” “a people’s church,” thereby imperiling the role of the universal Church. In Managua he publicly reprimanded one of the five priests in the government. Taunted by an intemperate throng with the shout: “We want peace,” the Pope thundered back “The Church is the first to ask for peace.” In the seven Central American societies, many of which were in progressive disintegration, in widespread fear, repression, hunger, violence, urban congestion, and despair, and where fundamentalist and stridently anti-Catholic missions overtly supported several oppressive regimes and where many bishops and priests were defending the much abused rights of Indians and of the impoverished and the threatened generally, John Paul specifically chided the arrogantly born-again proselytizing sectaries. He did not, however, choose to draw attention to the differences between “a people’s church” (self-distancing itself from the magisterium and oversight of a bishop and therefore more prone to governmental pressure) and the congeries of base communities (which, extending from Brazil, represent a communal Catholic modality of accommodation to the needs of deracinated, fearful, or marginalized populations, yet independent of state control and accessible to priestly ministry). His visit to Haiti coincided with a national eucharistic congress.
He visited Poland again (16-23 June), comforting a people loyal to their bishops and primate, but despondent at the closing down by martial law of Solidarity, which had sprung up in hope after his first visit. In Czeęstochowa, “where we have always been free” (an allusion to historic or imminent invasion from East or West), he presented to the Virgin as sovereign of Poland his sash torn by a bullet in the attempt on his life. Rural folk around Poznan were encouraged in defense of private farms. In two meetings with Wojciech Jaruzelski, neither side gave in the fundamental issues. But the Pope was permitted to meet privately for several hours with Nobel Laureate Lech Walesa and his family.
For the vigil and feast of the Assumption, John Paul was at Lourdes. He was in Austria (10-13 September), an interval coinciding with the closing year’s program there of Christian renewal. He observed the third centenary of the lifting of the Turkish siege of Vienna through the heroism of Polish king John Sobieski, but he took the occasion of the Christian victory to deplore “the equal shame” for atrocities committed on both sides (with evident contemporary allusion). On other occasions, too, he emphasized the special vocation of Austria between Eastern and Western Europe.
The sixth general assembly of the Synod of Bishops (29 September-29 October) attended to the theme of penance and reconciliation. A year later, in his own apostolic exhortation, Reconciliatio et paenitentia, John Paul distinguished three valid meanings for social sin, but eschewed the concept of systemic or institutional sin, and rejected any reduction of mortal sin to an act of “fundamental option” or contempt of God or neighbor and urged that general absolution be kept to limited times and occasions.
Sixth Pontifical Year
In January 1984 the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United States was announced, while in February the Vatican-Italian agreement on the revision of the Lateran Accords was signed, bringing Italy into roughly the same relation to the Holy See as other traditionally Catholic states. Later (June) John Paul paid his first visit as sovereign of Vatican City to the presidential palace, the Quirinale.
On Good Friday in April, John Paul dated his apostolic letter on the status of Jerusalem, a decade after Paul VI’s visit there, as he noted, observing that it represented geographically the confluence of three continents and religiously the sacred city of three world religions but still without peace. He called again with urgency for resolution of the seemingly “insoluble” antagonism between Israelis and Palestinians. He reiterated the papal position on an internationally guaranteed “special status” for the City of Peace. While reflecting on communal suffering and peace, John Paul wrote two apostolic letters: Salvifici doloris (February) on the redemptive role of suffering and Redemptionis donum (March) on the three evangelical counsels of male and female religious in the contemplative orders.
The principal goal of the pope on his twenty-first journey abroad (2-12 May) was to celebrate in Korea the bicentennial of the arrival of Catholicism there. In Seoul, he canonized Korea’s 103 martyrs, and met with a dozen Buddhist and Confucian leaders. His official meeting with Protestants was limited to a specialized group of scholars engaged with Catholics in a common Korean version of the Bible, he himself having exerted himself to use Korean at his masses. He renewed his support for the reunification of Korea and deplored the failure of the North Korean government to permit him contact with any Catholics there. He flew on to Papua, saying Mass in English and in Pidgin in the capital and in the highlands, addressed the joint bishops’ conference of Papua and of the Solomon Islands on common socioeconomic and bureaucratic problems of the two recently decolonized states, and went on to the capital of the second state, Honiari on Guadalcanal (a week earlier it had voted to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See). In Thailand, he paid tribute in Bangkok to the king and to the high priest of Thai Buddhism for the patrimony of tolerance. He commended Buddhists for the renunciation of violence, while reminding them that the Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in any non-Christian tradition. He invited Thai Catholics to consider their native land especially fertile terrain for the word proclaimed uniquely by Christ to take root. At a camp he counseled Indochinese refugees in transit to host countries to retain the old language and culture but, while waiting, to acquire a new one.
Within a month of his second Asian visitation, John Paul was in Switzerland for the second time (2-12 June) but now on a “necessary ecumenical” trip, implicitly mandated by Vatican II. A sidelight that made it notable was that the Pope was greeted and throughout protected by his own uniformed Swiss guards.
At the headquarters of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, he acknowledged the ecumenical movement as “irreversible.” He urgently raised the ecclesiological issue of the papal ministry, his understanding of the Church as itself a mediator between God and humanity, his opposition to sharing the Eucharist prior to the achievement of visible unity, his sense of the utter difference between Catholic and particularly Reformed spirituality (Zwingli, Calvin), his opposition to any change in the Catholic canons concerning the priesthood, and his anxieties over the modalities of social change fostered by the WCC. At the end of the day the Pope visited the Orthodox center at Chambesy and there expressed the hope that “soon” they and Catholics would be in intercommunion.
At the Catholic University of Fribourg John Paul lauded the theologians “in the great act of tradition” and urged them to accept the fact that from their level they cannot solve all the problems presented, just as pastors, he said in another meeting, cannot always find satisfactory resolutions to life’s problems. Picking up problems distinctive of Switzerland as a whole, the Pope called for the “powerful world of money” and of arms exports to be subject to the consciences of all in their democratic society, and in every town and field greater concern for guest workers among them.
His twenty-third trip abroad was to Canada, 9-20 September, 1984 (he had paid a visit in 1969). John Paul spent his first three days in Quebec Province, then went on to the Maritimes. In Toronto he made a major ecumenical effort, lauding and encouraging all sides. Besides his life-family themes and spirituality he gave, especially in the western provinces, ringing denunciations of the arms race and the economic disparity between the hemispheres. On several occasions he emphasized the rights of native Canadians, twice acknowledging the earlier mistakes of missionaries among the Indians, exculpating the gospel itself. As in the first visit to the United States, he reserved to the end his appearance at the capital, exhorting Canada’s bishops assembled in Ottawa to uphold the life, family, and social teachings of the Church, the full sacramental ministry (Penance and Eucharist), and to overcome the “conspiracy of silence” about the abuse of religious freedom in many lands.
As John Paul made plans for another flight to Hispanic America, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith published the apostolic instruction On Certain Aspects of the Theology of Liberation (3 September), an uncommonly spirited argumentation, clarification, and rejection of any “Catholicized” Marxism. This document cited John Paul’s addresses with phrasings also reminiscent of his pre-papal writings in its disentanglement of Catholic truth from the new Marxicising context of a praxis with a motivating principle in class struggle. On the first leg of the visit to Latin America, (10-13 October), in Spain John Paul made reference to the fifth centennial of the opening of the New World to Catholicism when Columbus landed in Hispaniola in 1492. Upon leaving the basilica of Our Lady of Pilar in Saragossa whence, he said, came “the light of faith” to the New World, he flew to Santo Domingo and set forth in the presence of a hundred representatives of the Latin American Bishops’ Council his broad vision of working for a civilization of love in the avoidance of the idols of power, violence, wealth, and hedonism.
Seventh Pontifical Year
John Paul undertook his fifth trip to Latin America, 26 January to 6 February 1985, visiting Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru, and where he clarified “the Church’s preferential but not exclusive option for the poor.” He upheld the rights of the Incans and other Indians, and in Peru appealed to the Maoist Sendero Luminoso guerrillas to reject “the pitiless logic of violence.” In many gatherings from among the industrialized and more prosperous segments of the various populations he warned against consumerism, dehumanizing technologies, and a sensate culture. After a visit to an Ecuadoran shantytown, in Guayaquil, he undertook the beatification of Mother Mercedes de Jesus, the foundress of Ecuador’s first religious institute, the Sisters of Mariana of Jesus. The nuns serve as missionaries and educators, especially among orphaned and abandoned children. “ln her,” he said, “the true preferential option for the poor clearly shines.”
In many of his pilgrimages and audiences John Paul singled out the young for special attention and instruction. In conjunction with the U.N.-sponsored Youth Year, he issued an apostolic letter To the Youth of the World, making the Ten Commandments central; and he addressed young people assembled in St. Peter’s Square, 31 March, urging them to shout to all humanity that Christ is indispensable to the world.
After having earlier met with American Jewish leaders and earlier received the prime minister of Israel (February), John Paul, accepting the invitation of the chief rabbi of Rome, joined him in the synagogue in a service of song and prayer, a first in papal history (13 April 1986). He there reflected in the presence of the Holy One of Israel on the momentous significance of his visit, a solemnly joyful betokening of the general acceptance of “a legitimate plurality [of faith communities] on the social, civil, and religious levels.” He connected his visit with an earlier gesture of John XXIII, evoking Nostra aetate of Vatican II as the decisive grounding of the new relation between Catholics and Jews, and recalling his own words of universal anguish when he visited Auschwitz in 1979. He looked for perennial respect of “the identity of each divergent Biblical tradition and sustaining community,” beyond any syncretism and any ambiguous appropriation. He referred Catholics to the guidelines of 1974 and 1985 on the presentation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic preaching and catechesis, which theologically presupposes that the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people is “founded on the design of the God of the Covenant” and that instruction on Judaism is not marginal but essential to Catholic instruction and with that it affirms “the existence of the State of Israel” on the basis of “the common principles of international law.” This political aspect of papal instruction was not alluded to in the synagogue by the Pope, who stressed rather the religious and moral bonds and also the benignly but firmly held differences in scriptural interpretation.
The twenty-sixth papal pilgrimage, to the Benelux nations, 11-21 May, proved difficult. In all three countries he faced articulate disagreement with the papal magisterium ranging in expression from bishops deploring the pain of those who conscientiously found it hard to stay in the Church, all the way to boycott and even violent hostility from youth in street demonstrations (Utrecht). He held up Christ as “the tutor of adult conscience” in faith and morals against the claims of the autonomous conscience. Going first to the Netherlands, then Luxembourg, and finally to Belgium, he had to be tactful also on the linguistic front, Dutch-Flemish, German, and French. Of all his intra-Christian ecumenical encounters, the one that took place in The Hague was the most critical. The spokesman of the Dutch Reformed Synod charged that his policy was slowing down the ecumenical movement. Elsewhere urging mutual forbearance within the Church of diversity, when it meant complementarity, John Paul admonished Dutch theologians against creating a spurious “parallel magisterium” to that of bishops and enjoined them in turn not to isolate themselves from the universal collegial unity. Before the World Court John Paul called for measures to strengthen the rule of law among nations and took the occasion that he had not yet been afforded by a trip to Southern Africa to condemn apartheid. In all three countries he warned against local xenophobia and urged an embracing sense of economic fair play on the part of the nations of the Northern hemisphere for those of the Southern.
Participation in the forty-third International Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi was the special motive of his third trip to Africa (11-21 May), to seven countries, two for the second time, and Kenya for the third. Nairobi had taken as its theme the Eucharist and the Christian Family. John Paul closed the Congress at a Mass on 18 August, in English and Swahili, declaring that “the power of Christ’s gospel has been revealed in Africa.” He took the occasion of the place and the Congress to press very hard and specifically against the policy of the Kenyan government on reducing population growth. In several of the countries he had ecumenical meetings with other Christians and with Muslims, sometimes together, and for the first time he prayed with a group of animists (in Togo). Notable was the royal invitation extended to him to visit Morocco, and for the first time and at the explicit request of Hassan II, to address a stadium full of young Muslims, a dramatic implementation of the principle of dialogue with non-Christians, he said, endorsed by Vatican II.
In June John Paul turned to the Slavic east of Europe with his fourth encyclical Slavorum apostoli, on the eleventh centenary of the death of St. Methodius. He had already declared SS Cyril and Methodius “pioneers in inculturation” and co-patrons of Europe with St. Benedict, observing that the cultural, political, and religious mission (Cyrillic alphabet, Bible, and liturgy) of these two Greeks had been under the joint auspices of Constantinople and Rome while still in full communion.
The second extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops was convened by the Pope 24 November to 8 December, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the close of Vatican II, to assess it, and, in John Paul’s concluding words, “to avoid divergent interpretations.” Later in this year he appointed a commission, recommended by the Synod to prepare a compendium of Catholic teaching or universal catechism to embody “the teachings of Vatican II considered in their continuity and complementarity with all the preceding magisterium of the Church.”
Eighth Pontifical Year
Invited to India by its president and its episcopal conference, and encouraged by the Catholic spouse of the prime minister, John Paul in the first ten days of February visited 14 cities of a vast state, less than two percent of which is Catholic. He said that his visit was a pilgrimage of good will and peace in the fulfillment of a desire to experience personally the “soul” of India and its “various spiritual quests for the Absolute.” He was there also to address social and moral issues common alike to Christians and non-Christians, to preside over and exhort various Catholic flocks, celebrating Mass in more than one rite (the Syro-Malabar, for instance, going back to the tradition of Thomas the Apostle). He began his pilgrimage at Raj Ghat, dedicated, he observed, “to the Father of the Nation and the apostle of non-violence. I have come here to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi, hero of humanity.” In retrospect he declared: “I have evangelized the Indian people through the words of Mahatma Gandhi.” In the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi he addressed by name Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, and fellow Christians, asserting his conviction that “India’s great contribution to the world can be in offering it a spiritual vision of man.” He celebrated Mass among 150,000 tribal hill peoples in Assam, many of them sill animists, observing that Christianity can transform without doing violence to indigenous culture. He solemnized the beatification at Kottayam of two Indians of the Syro-Malabar rite, a Carmelite father of the 19th century and a sister of the Immaculate Conception (Lithuanian, d. 1946). In Bombay toward the close of his pilgrimage he entrusted the people of India to the intercession of Mary.
In Dominum et vivificantem, his sixth encyclical (30 May 1986), John Paul carried further his teaching on the Holy Spirit as the Second Counselor and he meditated on how the Spirit is sent by the Father and by the Son in comforting and also convalidating the teaching of Christ. Observing that Vatican II was an “ecclesiological and hence also a pneumatical council,” he unfolded in the encyclical the gifts of the Spirit from creation through regeneration. He especially reflected on the development of the role of the Spirit through the apostles and the episcopal magisterium to priests and to the faithful. The Spirit, he pronounced, upholds the original divine truth in shaping and constraining conscience in such a way that human beings are, for the most part, held back from passing beyond the limits of licit behavior into the presumption of becoming through class, nation, race, or ideology “an independent and exclusive source for deciding about good and evil…. When God is forgotten the creature itself grows unintelligible.”
On the eve of his thirtieth pilgrimage, his sixth to Latin America, the Vatican released three related letters by John Paul, Archbishop Runcie of Canterbury and Cardinal Willebrands, in effect slowing down Catholic-Anglican rapprochement. Willebrands firmly articulated the Catholic position regarding the ordination of women in some provinces of the Anglican Communion as an increasingly serious obstacle to intercommunion: “The [male] priest represents Christ in his saving relationship with his body … not primarily … the priesthood [male-female] of the whole people of God.”
The visit to Colombia (1-7 July) emphasized the healing of a nation rent by civil war, overwhelmed by the drug traffic, and grieving from a succession of spectacular natural disasters. The descendants of African slaves who constitute the major strand in the population inland from Colombia’s Pacific coast heard John Paul honor St. Peter Claver, SJ, who before his death (1654) had cared for and converted 300,000 black slaves as “a sign of the authentic theology of liberation.” He also honored Luis Bertand, O.P. (d. 1581), missionary to Africans and Indians, patron saint of Colombia. The Pope returned to Rome after a stop at the island nation of Santa Lucia.
For the sixteenth centenary of the conversion of St. Augustine, John Paul wrote an apostolic letter (August), reflecting on the affirmation of the Carthaginian doctor of the Church: “I should not believe the Gospel unless I were moved to do so by the authority of the Catholic Church.”
The third pilgrimage to France, 4-7 October, was occasioned by the bicentennial of the birth of St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, patron of parish priests. At Ars (near Lyons) he delivered a series of three meditations during a day of recollection for 5,800 priests, deacons, and seminarians, drawing upon the saint as model. He celebrated Mass at the basilica of Paray-le-Monial of the Visitation Nuns, recalled the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1673-75), which shaped the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and afterwards handed a letter to the superior general of the Jesuits, urging his order to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart. In Annecy he praised the cofounders of the Visitation Nuns (1610), SS. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal. He met with forty-five Protestant Brothers of Taizé. In Lyons, in the ancient amphitheater site of the martyrdoms of A.D. 117, he addressed a gathering of Armenians, Orthodox, and Protestants, urging “boldness” in implementing the gains of the ecumenical movement on the parish level. There he unexpectedly appealed for truces everywhere in the world during the forthcoming world day of prayer for peace.
This day was observed at Assisi under the patronage of St. Francis whom John Paul had already denominated patron of ecology (1979). At the invitation of John Paul 150 representatives of a dozen world religions (including animist, Hindu, Buddhist, Parsee, Jewish, and Muslim) joined him and many leaders of diverse Christian tradition, including the metropolitan of Kiev, in a world day of prayer for peace on 26 October (with some actual cessation of hostilities out of respect and longing), the most significant interfaith ecumenical event of the nine years of his pontificate.
Near the beginning of summer in the Southern hemisphere, John Paul undertook a pastoral trip into Oceana, 18 November to 1 December. Although he made stops in the capital of Muslim Bangladesh, in Singapore, at Suva, capital of Fiji and seat of the Francophone Pacific Conference of Bishops, and at the capital of Seychelles, the principal mission of the Pope was to New Zealand and Australia. More pointedly than elsewhere he appealed for the return of wayward Catholics (Sydney). At the capital (Canberra) of the country whose physicians pioneered in vitro fertilization (also in Brisbane and Melbourne), he carried much further than on any other pilgrimage his warning against all kinds of genetic and embryological experimentations and euthanasian practices, anticipatory of the Apostolic Instruction on Respect for Human Life (issued by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in the ensuing March).
Ninth Pontifical Year
His fifth encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, dated on the feast of the Annunciation (25 March), was a comprehensive scriptural, conciliar, and theological meditation on the Mother of God, directed to all Christians. The encyclical explained her subordinate mediatorial role, her role as model of mother and obedient expectant follower of the divine will. It cited the Marian piety as a common tradition binding Catholics and the Orthodox together. John Paul II used the encyclical to announce a Marian Year that would extend until the solemnity of the Assumption in August 1988.
From 31 March to 12 April the Pope was off on his seventh trip to Latin America. In cathedral in Montevideo, Uruguay, he went further than ever before in defining the preferential option for the poor to mean primarily the spiritually impoverished who are suffering because of sin and being cut off from the divine. In the course of his stay in Chile he met thrice with General Augusto Pinochet, its autocratic president. His clearest public stricture was at the welcoming in Santiago, when in response to the president’s account of his own achievement in defense “of the Christian West” against Marxism and his hope for a transition to democracy, the Pope said: “I am not an evangelizer of democracy … [but] if democracy means human rights, it also belongs to the message of the Church.” When he heard one archbishop speak openly about a “culture of death” in the country, he voiced his outrage at such victimizations. In answer to a youthful deplorer of the state of his nation, the Pope referred to it as Lazarus, trusting that he would be understood to mean that he was hoping for a resurrection of the nation. In reiterating his rejection of violence and hatred, he condemned any sympathy with “programmed class struggle” as the dialectic solution to social injustice, whether of the urban poor or the Indians. In Argentina he defended the same indigenous groupings, asked workers not to confuse labor union and political action. On his arrival he commended socialist President Raul Alfonsin for “full re-establishment of democratic institutions,” and took other occasions to rejoice that the preceding period (1976-83) of the miliary culture of death, terror, and “the youthful disappeared” had come to an end. In farewell to Argentina, he entrusted the whole nation to its patroness, the Virgin of Lujan.
On the Thursday after Easter he was on his second visit to West Germany, 30 April to 4 May. A sustained theme was the role of Catholics under Hitler. Occasionally implying that more corporate and individual opposition might have only exacerbated conditions under “the treacherous tyranny of National Socialism,” he emphasized three figures from the horrendous period, beatifying (in Cologne) the Carmelite Edith Stein as “a daughter of Israel” (d. Auschwitz, 1942). He prayed at the tomb (in Münster) of Clemens August Cardinal Count von Galen as a prelate who had been a swift and outspoken opponent of the policy of euthanasia for the insane and imbecile. He came close to saying that abortion and euthanasia for the terminally comatose today are but subtle manifestations of the more dramatic threat to human dignity and basic rights under the Nazis. While admonishing on some points, he expressed again high regard for German society in extricating itself from the tragic past and winning new respect among the nations. In the cathedral in Augsburg, which gives its name to the principal Lutheran confession (1530), he went further than on his first visit and acknowledged that the Reformation, despite many dire consequences for Christendom, had the effect of renewing the Church and intensifying the papal ministry. He reiterated before the bishops his call for the reevangelization of Europe and within Europe in particular the world of workers.
John Paul’s third pilgrimage to Poland, 8-14 June, fitted into the national Eucharistic Congress and climaxed in a closing procession of one million people on the Sunday before the feast of Corpus Christi in Warsaw. John Paul beatified two Poles, a peasant girl, killed while resisting rape by a Russian soldier (d. 1884), and a bishop who was injected with poison in Dachau (d. 1943). He was able to visit several cities not hitherto accessible to him, notably his own Catholic University in Lublin, where he addressed world scientists assembled by the invitation of his own former rector, ordained 46 priests, and visited the vast suburban concentration camp of Majdanek. He prayed at the tombs of Primate Wyszynski and the priestly martyr of Solidarity, Jerzy Popieluszko. He met with Jews, with the ecumenical council, with Lech Walesa, and twice with General Jaruzelski amid expressions of cool correctness on either side. Yet the ground was prepared for the resumption of the social dialogue between the government and the hierarchy (with legalization and a concordat at issue).
In Kraków John Paul had prayed before the relics of Queen Jadwiga and at the tomb of her Lithuanian spouse (King Jagilas), who on acceptance of Christian Baptism promised the conversion of his nobles and peoples (1387). In Rome, during the celebration of the sixth centenary of the Christianization of the Lithuanians (19 June), for which he had issued his apostolic letter Christianitas, he beatified the scholarly priest of conjoined Polish and Lithuanian heritage, George Matulaitis, the “splendid model” bishop of Vilnius (1918-25).
In the same month the Pope received the president of Austria, Kurt Waldheim, who had invited the Pope to the U.N. (1979). Waldheim’s visit called forth protests particularly from American Jews because of persistent allegations of his involvement in Nazi crimes. John Paul, of whom the Jewish community had within the preceding season expressed the highest praise for progress in interfaith relations, sensed the urgent need of a substantial assuagement of their fears. He arranged meetings with Jewish representatives, 31 August and 1 September, in the Vatican and in Castel Gondolfo lest misunderstanding blemish an important interfaith encounter with Jewish leaders (Miami), foreseen for near the outset of his second pastoral and ecumenical visitation to the United States.
On his itinerary from Miami, to Columbia, New Orleans, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Monterey, and San Francisco to Detroit (10-19 September), John Paul gave special attention to the ethnic pluralism of the country and of the Church. He more than once used Creole, French, and Spanish; he spoke to Hispanics, Haitians, Indians, and Eskimos (to the indigenous peoples, both in Phoenix and Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories, fulfilling there a plan foiled by bad weather on his first trip to Canada), and perhaps most notably (in New Orleans) an assembly of black bishops and 1,800 priests. His interfaith and intra-Christian ecumenical encounters were substantial. His meeting (in Columbia, S.C.) with heads of more than a score of denominations and communions ranging from the Armenian Apostolic to Southern Baptist was something new in his pilgrimages, in that he responded to a nationally prepared, representative interdenominational paper on the state of society in the perspective of Christian responsibilities among citizens of a world power. He had chosen Columbia to witness to common scriptural bonds and even solidarity between Catholics and Evangelical Protestants and the Orthodox. After addressing by name the twenty-four denominations engaged in worship in the university stadium of 60,000, and preaching from the Bible-centered podium, interpreting the interrelated texts on the family and civic life, he declared: “You cannot insist on the right to choose without also insisting on the duty to choose well, the duty to choose in the truth.” From the outset of his second visit, John Paul made it clear in several addresses, climaxing in his response to four presentations before the United States bishops (Los Angeles), that appropriate or licit inculturation (formerly “Americanization”) would have to eschew any “merely sociological view” of the relationship of the local churches to each other and to their center in Rome, to refrain from any selective adhering to the magisterium in moral theology and praxis, and instead to yield to tradition and canon law on the role women hold in the Church, and to resist pessimism about the shortage of priests and vocations to the life of religious and the entertainment of uncanonical strategies to cope with a passing phase.
Many of the concerns of the laity and bishops presented with poignancy during his second American visit recirculated in the deliberations of the seventh general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 1-30 October, conceived as a review of the impact of Vatican II on the vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and the world.
Determined to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Progressio populorum, John Paul, surely moved by the cumulative impact of his thirty-seven pilgrimages, issued his seventh encyclical, Sollicitudo rei socialis (30 December 1987). He reviewed the advances and setbacks in economic, social and moral development in the twenty-year interval. The Pope deplored the division of the Northern hemisphere between the geopolitical blocs of East and West, of Marxist collectivism and liberal capitalism, and the intrusion of the largely extraneous conflicts into the Southern hemisphere and the Third World. He identified as the Fourth World the bands of poverty, homelessness, and joblessness created by the perverted mechanisms of the systems, cropping out even in sectors of the First World itself. He identified the encyclical as a theological and moral reflection on the human condition and not as some third way between the two principal economical-philosophical systems. He insisted that the proper distribution of superabundance of the individual and the society belongs to the less well off not out of charity but in fair distributive justice. He placed his vision in the global perspective of the four “worlds” in interdependent development moving toward mutual respect, solidarity, and collaboration. For the first time a papal encyclical was formulated in direct address to, besides the Catholic faithful, all Christians in their churches and ecclesial communities and eleemosynary organizations, to the Jews, and to the Muslims as all heirs of Abraham, and to the devotees of all the world religions.
By the time John Paul II entered the tenth year of his pontificate in October 1987, he had significantly turned the papal ministry into a global mission beyond anything envisaged in the era of Vatican II. He had expanded the international representation inthe College of Cardinals and the Roman Curia. In three consisteries (1979, 1983, 1985), John Paul named cardinals from every continent, including a half-dozen or more from North America: Archbishops Gerald Emmett Carter of Toronto, Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, Bernard Law of Boston, John J. O’Connor of New York, James A. Hickey of Washington, Edmund C. Szoka of Detroit, Paul Gregoire of Montreal, Louis Albert Vachon of Quebec, and Metropolitan Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky of the Ukrainian Rite. The College of Cardinals has worked with the Pope in finding a solution to the depressed finances of the Vatican, faced with increased overhead and declining revenues. John Paul’s pontificate has been plagued with fiscal problems inherited from his predecessors that are said to have resulted from unwise investments and alleged banking irregularities. He took the occasion of the consistory in 1988 to issue the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus which reorganized the Roman Curia.
By a phenomenal output of official teaching, with a detectible personal input and distinctive emphasis, and by having exerted himself in endless travel, celebrating all the Sacraments with flocks great and small around the world, John Paul II has gone far toward transforming the perception of the papal ministry from seeming to be distant and magisterial and diplomatic into an immediate sacerdotal ministry of pastoral caring and social concern. Moreover, by his regular general audiences on sustained themes addressed in several world languages, by his receptions in audience of heads of state and government at the Vatican, by his regular addresses on pilgrimage to the international diplomatic corps accredited to the given capital, and to the U.N. and its related institutions (UNESCO, the World Court, Labor) and perhaps especially by exchanges, often without the intermediation of his nuncios, with the heads of government in their own capitals, the Polish Pope has enormously enhanced the world impact of papal diplomacy. Indeed he has come to exercise direct spiritual sovereignty amongst the heads of government or their envoys by his sacral presence and power, by his moral authority, and by his enhanced vision for having visited and talked with so many parts of the world. With the Holy See a signatory of several international accords, notably that of Helsinki and of nuclear nonproliferation, by a Vatican presence at state funerals(e.g. at the Kremlin for general secretaries), by international mediation (the Beagle Channel Accord between Chile and Argentina), by frequent global and regional appeals, exhortations, and intrafaith and interfaith prayer convocations, by his Urbi et Orbi and New Year’s messages, John Paul II has made of the Apostolic See a major force in East-West relations in the North Atlantic and between the Northern developed and the underdeveloped Southern hemisphere.