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October 14, 1979 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-14
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Page 8-Sunday, October 14, 1979-The Michigan Daily


(Continued from Pages)
those who had wished for a younger,
more vigorous pope were left with the
specter of a leader just as intransigent
as Pope Paul, but one so young and so
vigorous that he probably will reign
for many years to come.
So the current American Catholic
Church, as it existed one year ago when
Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Krakow was
elected to the Throne of St. Peter, was a
church in open rebellion, a church in
disarray, a church which had selec-
tively adapted _ those tenets of
Catholicism which suited its member-
ship while rejecting those which it con-
sidered ont-dated. For Pope John Paul
II, such insubordination might seem
perplexing, since his own native church
of Poland is one of the oldest, most
united, and most dogmatic in the world.
Thus, Pope John Paul's trip to this
country was more than the media ex-
travaganza it became. There was more
behind the trip than the proliferation of
papal buttons, -T-shirts, banners, and
recording albums would suggest. The
pontiff's mission was more substantive
than waving at admiring throngs from
atop his "Pope-Mobile" and embracing
children from the crowd. The pope
came, instead, on a mission of
salvation: to guide the American
Catholic Church back to church
traditions, and to scold American
Catholics for so long thinking they could
get away with their selective adap-
tation of Catholic doctrine. And what's
more, the pontiff came to America
specifically to reassert the authority of
the Vatican, and to tell the renegade
Catholics that only it will decide when
to lift the traditional bans on sex, birth
control, abortion, and divorce-a
decision that so far, the Vatican has
refused to make.
Pope John Paul II may be just the
leader who can indeed stop the rebellion
and whip American Catholics into line.
He is using new tactics. Rather than
issuing encyclical decrees from the
Vatican, which wind up in a vacuum,
this piope is using the personal touch
and the power of his own persuasion. In
Chicago his methods became clear-to
move and capture large crowds with his
own personal magnetism, then deliver
directives in persuasive, not condem-
natory, tones. At the Grant Park
homily, the pope's message to
American Catholics was no less
stern-get into line right now-but it
was couched in kindly rhetoric, not fire
and brimstone.
This pope is a showman, a politican, a
tacticisn. He is using the papacy the
way effective chief executives in this
country have used the presidency to
(Continued from Page 3)
Still, I haven't seen a porn movie yet I
consider half as dehumanizing to
women (and, therefore, men) as, say,
Three's Company, which masks its dir-
ty business beneath a veil of jokes and
humorous "situations." At least the
movies are up-front about their inten-
tions. Mainstream media cheescake, on
the other hand, is easily written off as
"entertaining" (sitcoms), ' infor-
mative" (commercials), and what
have you. ,
One even wonders if "dirty" movies
deserve their sleazy title, considering
some of the value systems at work
behind much of American popular
culture. I mean, you know that TV ad
for Tickle anti-perspirant, with those
nubile young beauties lovingly stroking
that big, wide Tickle ball? Now th at's
really pornographic.-

sway the masses towards a particular
line of policy. Pope John Paul is using
his office, and all the papal prestige
that goes with it, in a way that St. Peter
never could have envisioned. When a
pope goes to Chicago, the entire city
stands still and listens, so his message
is best delivered in Grant Park, on the
lakefront, rather than from the balcony
of the Basilica. To Pope John Paul, the
papacy is a tool that can in itself
become the 'medium to deliver the
0 WHERE WAS Pope John
Paul's use of the papacy
more markedly demonstrat-
ed than in his' 38-hour Chi-
cago visit. From the moment the pontiff
stepped off the ramp of his papal plane
at Chicago's O'Hare International Air-
port, he played for the television
cameras that followed his every move.
Riding through the streets of Chicago's
Polish north side district that Tuesday
night, the pope, waving from the top of
his black limosine, kept one eye on the
crowds and the other on the flatbed
trailer that carried the television
camera which always directly preceded
the papal motorcade.
The pope used each of the stops on the
Chicago leg of his whirlwind tour to at-
tain the maximum media exposure. A
mass given especially in Polish for
Chicago's Polish community was in it-
self designed to project the image of a
pontiff always loyal to his countryfolk.
No one doubts the pope's sincerity, but
as a master showman he bas a proven
knack for capitalizing on made-for-
television situations. To another crowd
of Latino charity workers, the pope
spoke in fluent Spanish. And when a
group had gathered before dawn out-
side the residence of John Cardinal
Cody, the pope's host in Chicago, the
pontiff gave them what they had waited
for in the brisk morning air-a surprise
morning appearance on the balcony.
If the pope used the media in his
Chicago visit, the media were willing
victims. Newspapers, radio, and
television were soon caught up in the
euphoria of the faithful. A full-color pic-
ture of the pontiff in royal splendor
adorned the entire front page of the
Chicago Tribune on the second day of
the pope's visit. And the army-of press
covering the pope's Chicago
soujourn-like the army of worshippers
who turned out to see him-were more
interested in the style of his visit, the
pontiffical grandeur, and the 32-page
press guide, than in the substance of the
papal message.
So by the time the pope celebrated a
Friday afternoon mass in the park, the
largest crowd yet assembled for the
pontiff had already been overwhelmed
by the way he swept the city.
Characteristic is the view of one con-
struction' worker from Hinsdale,
Illinois, who came to Grant Park for the
pontiff's homily. "I know he's come out
with the same traditional views of the
religion, but it really doesn't matter.
He's our leader and he presets us hope
while everyone else seeks destruction."
Said one Illinois woman, "I have just
seen God." And a woman from just out-
side of Chicago added, "I think a lot of
people may listen to what lie says, but
more important to me is what he can do
for us and what he can do for the cause
of world peace."
Indeed, while the pontiff's conser-
vative views on church doctrine may
alienate some religious
progressives, his stance on inter-
national issues are a marked break
with the past. From the streets of
Harlem to the assembly hall of the
.United Nations. Poe John Paul has

emerged as the champion of the under-
privileged class whom he contends
must not be left "with just the crumbs
from the feast." By rebuking the
current maldistribution of wealth bet-
ween rich nations and poor, and by
championing human rights, Pope John
Paul has emerged as almost radical in
comparison with pontiffs past.
It is only in matters of faith and
traditional Catholic doctrine that the
pope has remained unyielding, but
there is not necessarily a dichotomy
between a liberal internationalism and
a hard line on matters of morality. In
fact, Pope John Paul's international
orientation is a predicated on his
dedication to what many consider one
altruistic higher morality-in Catholic
theology as well as humanity itself.
So in America, the pope last week
was no less unbending in his commit-

agreed with their original 1976
assessment, thus forcing them to
shoulder some of the criticism bound to
result. Or, seen another way, the pope
picked up the bishops' reaffirmation of
church doctrine back in 1976 and now,
three years later and under increasing
pressure from those same bishops,
threw their own words directly back
their faces. The pope made it appear as
if he were only mirroring the
predominant view of the Catholic
clergy of this country and not imposing
law from the Vatican.
But most of the throngs who turned
out at every stop, who lined the streets
for a glimpse of the papal motorcade,
who waved banners of welcome in three
languages, do not see Pope John Paul
the tactician; nor do they see the pope
as a politician, as using the power of his
office as vigorously as a candidate for




ment to morality as he sees it-a
morality that includes opposing abor-
tion as an "unspeakable crime," con-
demning homosexuality, holding
women in the church to a subservient
role, and viewing celibacy for priests as
"a gift." Moreover, the pope squarely
put the proponents of such reforms on
the defensive, suggesting that the
reformers misused "the concept of
freedom to justify any behavior that is
no longer consonant with the true moral
order and the teaching of the church."
And it was Pope John Paul's skill as a
tactican that allowed him to reaffirm the
Vatican hardline without the need for a
new Vatican directorate when he met
with the American bishops in Chicago.
Instead of flatly stating his own policy
on those controversial and heated
issues, the pope chose instead to
resurrect a Nov. 1976 letter that the
bishops themselves had drafted and
sent to all their parishes. That letter,
basically, reaffirmed "the beauty of
marriage," while condemning con-
traception, divorce, premarital sex,
homosexuality, and abortion. So the
pope only told the bishops that he

re-election to a government post. The
only pope the masses see is the pope he
wants them to see-the showman,
loving, compassionate, fatherly, con-
cerned about the children, the poor, the
oppressed. The crowds see a human
pope, who laughs with them, sings with
them, and even tells them at the end of
a long day to "get some sleep!" This is
the pope they flocked to during his most
successful road tour since assuming the
But the future for Catholicism in this,
country rests on whether or not his
message-return to traditional
morality-can transcend his dynamic
presence and persist here now, after his
Aer Lingus jet has returned him to St.
Peter's Basilica. The people in
Chicago's Grant Park were for the
moment unconcerned with substance of
his message, and were captivated
mainly by his personal style. The true
test will come once tfie worshippers and
watchers are given the time and breath
to analyze the substance of this man,
since that test will tell how far
charisma alone can take John Paul II in
satisfying the American church's


Owen Gleiberman

Elizabeth Slowik

Associate editor
Elisa Isaacson
Cover photo of Dalai Lama by Jim Kruz

Supplement to The Michigan Daily

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Sunday, Octobpr 14, 1979

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