HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
APRIL 8, 2005 11
Oillt RICHARD J. ROSENDALL
John Paul II was an eloquent defender
of human rights, yet objected bitterly
to inclusion of gays and women.
A pope of
LIKE MANY FORMER Catholics, I
have never lost my fascination for Holy
Mother Church. When she gets you early,
she never quite lets go.
I thought of this while the news stations were in deathwatch mode for Pope
John Paul II, and as his death was reported I recalled his first visit to America.
I stood atop the steps of the National
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in
Washington, D.C, on October 7,1979, listening via loudspeaker as Sister Theresa Kane,
welcomed His Holiness on behalf of women
clergy by urging him to accept women into
all the ministries of the church.
As the polyglot pontiff understood, she
meant women priests. It was an exhilarating moment, witnessing the speaking of
truth to power.
Many of the women inside the shrine
wore armbands, blue for the Blessed Virgin
Mary, as an expression of solidarity with
Kane's message: "It is appropriate that a
woman's voice be heard in this shrine."
There was hesitation in the pope's voice as
he responded, obviously appalled. He awkwardly urged the nuns to return to wearing
traditional habits. A week later (speaking of
troublesome modern developments), the first
national gay march came to Washington, and
I remember the street vendors along the
march route still hawking papal memorabilia.
JOHN PAUL II WAS A POPE OF
contradictions. He played a significant role
in bringing down the Iron Curtain, yet he
was one of the last authoritarian rulers in
Europe. He was the first pope to recognize
Israel, and initiated unprecedented ecumenical outreach to leaders of other
churches, yet he aggressively suppressed
heterodoxy within his own church.
He was an outspoken advocate for the
poor, yet he opposed the Marxist-inspired
liberation theologians of South America,
even though the leading oppressors on
that continent were the oligarchs whom
the leftist theologians were resisting.
He was an eloquent defender of
human rights, yet he objected bitterly to
civil authorities granting a permit for a
gay rights march in Rome.
Three years before John Paul's ascension to the Chair of Saint Peter, the
Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith had declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."
Deciding this was insufficient, the new
pope's chief doctrinal enforcer, Joseph
Cardinal Ratzinger, issued a pastoral letter
in 1986 stating that "the inclination itself
must be seen as an objective disorder."
Ironically for an organization that purported to defend families against a demo-
nized minority, John Paul's church was
Pope John Paul II is seen at the center of the judges of the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal that can grant
marriage annulments, at the Vatican Thursday Feb. 1,2001. The pontiff said there was no possibility for
marriage to be re-defined according to different cultural models, stressing again the Vatican's opposition to
gay unions. Marriage is not just any old union between human persons, susceptible to being configured
according to a plurality of cultural models, the pontiff said. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari)
excruciatingly slow to respond to revelations that it had acted in effect as an
organized crime network facilitating the
sexual abuse of children by priests.
Indeed, its first instinct was to stonewall
and hire aggressive attorneys.
In this scandal the church's insular
and unaccountable men's club demonstrated in the clearest manner its feet
of clay. Boston's Bernard Cardinal Law
was rewarded with the highly prized
post in Rome.
Thus the idea that the church's ruler is
divinely ordained and answerable only to
God, long outdated in the secular realm,
is extended by the Vatican even to criminal matters.
ULTIMATELY, HOWEVER, IT IS NOT
John Paul II's shortcomings or blind spots,
but his many good works that point to the
greater tragedy of this man and the world
wide church he led so firmly for so long.
Anyone who claims special access to
divine wisdom, and leads a large organization dedicated to promulgating it, is
bound to find himself, however good his
intentions, at odds with what Thomas
Jefferson called "the illimitable freedom
of the human mind."
Each of us is born with a priceless gift,
a brain. Surely that gift should not be dishonored by refusing to think for ourselves.
As the world mourns this contradictory
man, this authoritarian freedom fighter
whose pastoral journeys took him from
Auschwitz to Jerusalem, my heretical brain
cries out amidst the hymns and eulogies:
No one has a monopoly on the truth.
Richard J. Rosendall is a Washington-
based writer and activist and can be
reached at rrosenQall@starpower.net
may be propc
at the upcoming
conference on the
future. What are
I think it is a great idea. Many of
our community have moved out
of Montrose. A GLBT business
district with a good business
mix targeted to our market
could be an attraction to bring
people back into Montrose.
RICK TAYLOR, 51
We have reached an era of GLBT
buying power. If we work
together, we can make changes
in the GLBT community.
"Knowledge is power."
JOE REYES, 42
Sole proprietor, 10 Inches To Go
I think we should not segregate
GLBT businesses into one district, but integrate all GLBT businesses into the Houston business
JO CASADY, 40
I think it will be a wonderful
idea to create this business district in Houston. It'll show the
rest of the nation and the GLBT
communities how strong our
community really is.
ABEL RODRIGUEZ 46
It's time for the community to
band together and show a united front.
STEPHEN OU BAY, 48
Sates Rep, First American Title
Sound off about what's happening in your world at www.houstonvoice.com/soundoff.
Interviews and photos by Datton DeHart