When did it become "John Paul's conservative" doctrine and not just "Catholic" doctrine?


Written on 12:07 AM by Jack B.

Just finished watching Nightline on ABC and there was a whole episode theorizing whether there could be a pope of color (Gee, you think so? Golly, Ted Koppel, what a shock! *sarcasm*) and how John Paul's "conservative" doctrine is influencing the Churches in Africa and S.America. The gist of it was that if the next Pope wasn't more "liberal" on some things the folks in those areas (especially Latin America) would leave the Church for Evangelical churches (which are actually tend to be even more conservative but don't let logic get in the way). The only way the RCC can compete with the Evangelicals is to have more priests and the only way to do that is drop the celibacy rule. I'm sure the next Pope would appreciate all this free advice from ABC *more sarcasm*. They even had the reporter go up in front of the Evangelical church meeting and ask how many of them used to be Catholics and almost all hands went up (he didn't ask about the theology taught by the Evangelicals which tend to be especially anti-Catholic among the missionaries in Latin America that target Catholicism, so there's more than just big bad celibacy going on here, but once again don't let logic get in the way). That stunt by the way was a really classy thing to do on the day of the Pope's funeral ("hey how many ex-Catholics do we have here") in a report that must have been rushed into production to be timed with tonight's broadcast.

Ted Koppel then had R. Scott Applebly of Notre Dame and a priest specializing in Africa with the US Conference of Bishops. When Koppel asked the priest if there really was a chance an African could become Pope, the priest had to inform him that Church already had 3 African Popes in the past so it wouldn't be anything new. Koppel was dumbfounded and had the priest tell them when exactly this (African popes) had happened. You would think being an experienced reporter he would have done his own research before going to air with this topic but again logic doesn't matter. Koppel was also confused how it is that the Africans and Latin Americans were more "conservative" than their American and European counterparts (this after the report told us that Latin American Catholics don't pay attention to the Pope's "conservative" doctrine even if they're mourning him now). Appleby who has written quite forthrightly about how ABC had previously edited him "to support a one-sided, melodramatically somber "script" that had obviously been outlined in advance by the show's producers for maximum lurid effect" in an earlier primetime special about the sex scandal took pains to point out that one couldn't say that the Third World Cardinals were more "conservative" than their (largely white) neighbors except in areas of sexual matters, like abortion and birth control, which were part of Catholic doctrine and not just "John Paul's" idea and that in most issues they were actually more "progressive" than the more "Western" Cardinals. Once again Koppel looked clueless. Did he do any research for this show? The USCCB priest basically agreed with Koppel and they both tried to assure him that if a Latin American/African got elected they wouldn't be as "conservative" as everyone thinks and were really "liberal" on many issues.

My question is: what's wrong about being "conservative"? In a country that currently has its executive and legislative branches controlled by "conservatives" and where the opposing party tend to run away from the label of "liberal", you wouldn't think "conservative" was a dirty word. Yet even in all the faux-gushing by the Mainstream Media about the Pope since his death, there's always been a sneer when they mention the Pope was a "conservative" and, as if to make up for this horrible sin on the part of John Paul, they bring up his so-called "liberal" positions of opposition to the death penalty and criticism of capitalism, as if to say the Pope really was one of "us" (meaning the commentators). What they don't understand is that John Paul's so-called "conservative doctrine" he supposedly "imposed" on the Church and his more "liberal" ideas all came from the same world-view and same set of beliefs. John Paul's line of thinking was consistent, he didn't think in terms of liberal/conservative because Catholic doctrine itself doesn't. John Paul didn't invent any "doctrine". If any member of the chattering classes ever actually read one of his well-thought out encyclicals or even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (available in most libraries and bookstores) maybe they wouldn't make such asinine statements.

As a matter of fact I tend to think that this episode of Nightline was more about Ted Koppel -and the folks in the ABC newsroom's - "fears" about a "conservative" Pope "of color" than it is about if the Catholic Church is ready for it or not.

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