Reflection For Our Time
Steve Sheehan Ė Survivor Support advocate
The passing of Pope John Paul II marks the end of a
significant era in both world and church history. In
the 24 years of his pontificate we have seen the demise
of communism in the western world and the breakup of
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Important breakthroughs
have been made in the area of ecumenism. Healing has
taken place, or at least been initiated between our
church and the Jews, Eastern Catholics, Muslims and
other non-Christian religions.
On the other hand, John Paul II, while speaking frequently
on the need for greater dialogue and openness has drawn
a severe conservative line in matters pertaining to
the role of women in the church, sexual mores, and Episcopal
collegiality. While remonstrating against the great
evil of child sexual abuse among the clergy, he simultaneously
stopped at holding the bishops accountable and removing
or replacing them for their culpability in maintaining
silence and covering up the heinous actions of the clergy
under their jurisdiction.
The legacy of his papacy will be long remembered for
the paradoxes it presents.
We are saddened at the loss of this vibrant and vigorous
man who faced his pontificacy daily with the full force
of his personality and was constant and unswerving in
his efforts to preach and practice what he believed.
We wish he had done more in apologizing to the survivors
of clerical abuse.
Now we wait as this conclave is assembled to elect
his successor. Among the prelates named as the most
likely successors to the throne of Peter we see a wide
spectrum of personal ideologies with no identifiable
most likely candidate in the forefront.
Historically, the process is predictably unpredictable.
The Spirit moves in strange ways and we can only trust
that the Spirit will guide the cardinals in their deliberations
to the end that their choice will be the best choice
to face the problems of our times and the most capable
to accomplish the mission of the church in the 21st
century. This is the test of our faith Ė that God is
in Godís heaven, watching over and guiding Godís church
and keeping us from wandering into error. Not all of
our prayers will be answered at one time. But inexorably
the church will move forward to prepare the world for
the kingdom of Christ as we have been promised and as
we hold to be true.
Patience ranks quite high among the least desirable
of my personality traits, but patient I must be as God
is patient with me.
I try to remind myself frequently that what I must
do is pray as though everything depends upon God, and
act as though everything depends upon me.
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and