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.
Pope John Paul II, the “pilgrim pope,” understood intuitively that his ancient office was perfectly suited to reach a global audience in a media age. He gave peace, justice and human dignity a personal face that was somehow perfectly suited to the times, while reminding people that those values are older and more permanent than the institutions of modern politics.
In September of 1987 near the historic San Fernando Mission in Los Angeles, Pope John Paul II held his first face-to-face meeting with the entire U.S. hierarchy. He dealt bluntly with the “selective” dissent of many American Catholics over church teachings on sexual policies, women’s equality and church authority.
Protestants joined political and religious leaders worldwide in praising John Paul II’s compassionate papacy and leadership. If some Protestants voiced their disappointment that relatively little had changed in ecumenical affairs, doctrine or sexual policies, their remarks were contained within the universal admiration shown for the late pope.
Dr. Michael Newdow, the California atheist who sued to get “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, says he refiled a suit regarding the pledge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California January 3. A court staffer said legal documents had been received but had not been officially recorded pending additional paperwork from Newdow.
U.S.-based Muslim organizations have decried the beheadings in June of two foreign workers by extremists in the Middle East. The slaying of Paul Johnson Jr., an American engineer in Saudi Arabia, and Kim Sun Il, a South Korean interpreter in Iraq, were both met with sorrow by Muslim American leaders.
Pope JohnPaulII has appointed MaryAnnGlendon, a Harvard Law School professor, to serve as president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, making her the highest ranking laywoman in the Vatican.
President Bush used a special presidential prerogative January 16 to get one of his most controversial judicial nominees installed, temporarily, on a federal appeals panel. Just days before Congress returned from its holiday recess to resume its legislative work, Bush used a “recess appointment” to get Charles Pickering installed as a judge on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.