Do protestants need the papacy? Given the recent fascination with the pontificate of John Paul II and with the election of Benedict XVI, it would seem that the papacy is on the Protestant horizon in a way that would have been unthinkable even a generation ago. This may be the result of savvy marketing, the omnipresence of CNN, the celebrity status of John Paul II or a penchant for the exotic.
Where were you on the day John Paul II died? I won’t soon forget, for I was caught in a looking-glass world of improbable encounters and reactions. A friendly neighbor dropped by to deliver his boy for a play date with our son Andy. “Did you hear the pope is dying?” (Yes, I did.) “Can’t see why such a fuss is being made about him.” (I can.
When Pope Benedict XVI announced in his first sermon that he has a “primary commitment to work without sparing energies for the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ,” many expressed surprise.
After a grand funeral attracting world leaders to the Vatican and crowds urging a speedy sainthood for the late Pope John Paul II, the assigning of a former U.S. cardinal to celebrate one of the masses in St. Peter’s Basilica during the mourning period reminded Americans of the scars still present in the U.S. church.
In February the Jesuit theologian Roger Haight, former professor at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received notification that the Vatican had found “serious doctrinal errors” in his 1999 book Jesus: Symbol of God (Orbis) and that he was forbidden to teach as a Catholic theologian. The news did not come as a surprise.
The Vatican order to prohibit Jesuit priest Roger Haight from teaching Catholic theology unless “his positions have been corrected” to conform with church doctrine recently was condemned by Haight’s fellow theologians and welcomed by the Doctrine Committee of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. At issue is Haight’s 1999 book, Jesus: Symbol of God.