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In his time: The consequential papacy of John Paul II: reflections on women, freedom, jews, social justice, and salvation

Pope John Paul II

What is absolutely clear in these early years of the 21st century is that Pope John Paul II is the most influential religious figure of our time, and probably of modernity. Since his election in 1978, he has conspicuously led the Roman Catholic Church in its efforts to comprehend and interpret every significant issue of post-modern life, ranging from the broadly political to the intensely personal. His encyclicals, papal appointments, diplomacy, and personal charisma have shaped the Church and Catholic believers.

He is also famous, and famously influential, beyond Catholicism, continuously visiting the world--visible not just on the balcony of St. Peter's, but in his pope-mobile, on countless jet ways, in the Yankee Stadium outfield, and at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Add to this reach his best-selling books, television and radio broadcasts, and the Holy See's Web site, and John Paul's effect becomes immeasurable, and immeasurably complex.

The late Jonathan Kwitny of the Wall Street Journal, for example, saw Pope John Paul II as a latter-day Gandhi, a nonviolent revolutionary. Journalists Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, in their book His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time (1996), depict the pope as Ronald Reagan's coconspirator in a "holy alliance" to bring down communism. Biographer George Weigel, in Witness to Hope (1999), judges Pope John Paul II to be one of Catholicism's great leaders, a mystic and a visionary who has restored the evangelical tradition first laid out by Peter. Yet other observers have characterized the pope as a reactionary force within Catholicism, whose lengthy papacy has established a legacy of centralized Vatican power that is contrary to the long-term interests of a world Church and the outward-seeking spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

John Paul's enduring legacy will become clear only in retrospect, and only after many years, but the pope's impact on his time is a living phenomenon. In an effort to elucidate the complex relationship between John Paul II and his various global audiences, Boston College Magazine asked a handful of observers--a rabbi, a Jesuit, a feminist scholar, a political scientist, a Catholic journalist--to examine his papacy from their respective vantage points. Their considerations follow.

Women: Equal but separate, by Lisa Sowle Cahill

John Paul II is an ambiguous figure from the standpoint of women. To many Americans, he is best known for his refusal to admit women to the ordained ministry, his refusal to recognize so-called reproductive rights ranging from contraception to abortion, and his idealization of women as mothers. Yet he is also the author of the 1995 "Letter to Women," which praised "the great process of women's liberation" and mandated equality for women in family, work, and political society.

A few years ago, I experienced the pope's undoubtedly sincere but possibly mixed views of women firsthand. In 1997, I was invited to a conference at the Vatican on "Women's Health Issues." The fact that the health issues covered were all about reproduction (breast cancer was not on the agenda, nor was heart disease or osteoporosis) exemplifies the Catholic tendency still to see women largely in terms of sexual identity. Not surprisingly, the anti-contraception, pro-life agenda was more in evidence than advocacy for women's health as a human right, and representatives of different points of view often seemed to be talking past, rather than with, one another. Still, John Paul's willingness to engage new viewpoints may have been signaled, if rather enigmatically, at a private audience he gave us in a chapel next to his apartments. After reading some prepared words of thanks in English, he set aside his papers and stood up from his chair. Looking straight at us, he pointed emphatically at himself, and twice proclaimed, "Papa feminista!" His audience smiled and nodded politely, covering for the moment reactions that may have ranged from shock to incredulity.

If feminism implies a commitment to the equality of the sexes, John Paul qualifies as a feminist, at least in principle. The pope has provided much needed moral leadership by speaking against the degradation of women and the violence toward them that are still common globally.

But if feminism also requires a critical approach to gender, a "hermeneutic of suspicion" aimed at all social institutions that privilege one sex over the other, then John Paul misses the mark. His commitment to the dignity of women stands in great tension with his insistence that women preserve their "femininity" by nurturing characteristics that suit them best for their greatest fulfillment, the motherly role. Moreover, the "feminist" pope has helped to put in place an ecclesiastical bureaucracy that is not always open to the gifts and insights of women, or, in fact, to any serious challenges to existing Church practices and lines of control.

In the pope's vision, women are possessed of a "feminine genius" that, in the words of his 1988 letter Mulieris dignitatem ("On the Dignity and Vocation of Women"), makes them by nature especially sensitive to the needs of other human beings and more suited than men to make a "gift of self" to others. This hypothesis is anchored in a theory of male-female complementarity. John Paul sets women's maternal characteristics off against contrasting qualities of men, most notably the male ability to represent the male Christ through priestly ministry and the sacrifice of the Mass. But it may be a disservice to men to suggest that Christlike virtues such as compassion and self-sacrifice are less available to them than to the opposite sex, and a disservice to women to focus on their physiological dissimilarity to Christ rather than on their spiritual and moral imitation of him.

To the pope's credit, he has not drawn strong contrasts between male and female roles in other areas. In fact, in his 1981 discourse on the family, Familiaris consortio ("On the Family"), he insisted that "it is important to underline the equal dignity and responsibility of women with men," asserting that this equality "fully justifies women's access to public functions." In his "Letter to Women," written in anticipation of the 1995 United Nations Beijing Conference on the status of women, John Paul thanked women for their work in the economic, social, political, cultural, and artistic spheres. He even apologized for the complicity of Church members in the oppression of women (without, however, acknowledging that the institutional Church bears any responsibility for sexism). He called for equal pay for equal work, fairness in career advancement, and equal rights of spouses in the family.

What the pope has never explicitly acknowledged is that success in all these areas requires women's development of qualities that traditionally have been encouraged more for men, including leadership, initiative, courage, reasoning ability, and self-assertiveness. Women's success will also demand structural changes that allow women and men to take more cooperative approaches not only to the workplace but to their shared family and domestic responsibilities. As many feminists have pointed out, true equality of the sexes requires deep changes in the way we view not only politics, economics, and work, but also sexuality, marriage, parenthood, and the social meanings of "femininity" and "masculinity."

So how will Pope John Paul II, the self-proclaimed papa feminista, be remembered? Fairness requires that we place him in context. The pope was formed in an Eastern European culture prior to Vatican II and the women's movement. Against this background, his teachings about women are remarkably positive, even revolutionary. Only a generation or two ago, Catholic popes and bishops were telling women that they were less rational and competent than men, subordinate to men even in the family, and that women had no right even to govern their own financial affairs.

We must remember, too, that the pope's defense of women strikes relatively privileged woman in the United States in a different way than it does the millions worldwide who have little or no control over their sexual and reproductive lives and take for granted their economic and domestic subordination to men. While John Paul's vision of women lags behind the trend toward gender equality in modern cultures, he still has moved an essentially conservative institution toward an unprecedented endorsement of "women's liberation." He has written more in defense of women's dignity and equality than any other pope. Pope John XXIII empowered the laity by convening Vatican II, but John Paul II is the first pope to hear--and begin to respond to--the feminist message.

Lisa Sowle Cahill is J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology at Boston College.

freedom: Abiding law by Alan Wolfe

When people can buy and sell commodities freely and vote for candidates of their choice, it will not be long before they want some say in shaping the moral rules designed to govern their conduct. In Europe and North America, one of the most significant developments of our time has been the emergence of the idea of moral freedom. Say what you will about it--some celebrate the idea as the triumph of personal liberation, while others condemn it as relativism gone amok--moral freedom has considerable appeal in societies where personal dignity and political equality are deeply valued.

In his 1993 encyclical Veritatis splendor ("The Splendor of Truth") and in many of his other teachings, John Paul II has restated a way of thinking about morality and freedom that runs significantly counter to the modern temperament. The answer to the question "What is evil?" cannot, he insists, be found by transforming the question into "What do I think is evil?" Instead, the pope asserts, there are universal, binding truths that permit no exception. Freedom therefore does not consist in efforts to escape from the moral law; true freedom involves the recognition that a life led in accordance with the moral law expands our humanity by holding out the correct standards to which we ought to aspire.

As general and relatively abstract injunctions, appeals to moral truth are indeed compatible with freedom. But when linked to specific acts such as birth control or divorce, they will at times be interpreted as restraints on the freedom of people to choose what, after considerable reflection, they think is best for themselves. By insisting on the binding character of the Church's teachings on matters involving the body, the pope has placed those who consider themselves good Catholics, but who also think of themselves as modern people, in the difficult position of possibly disobeying an authority they believe to be legitimate.

There are, nonetheless, occasions when appeals to eternal truths, even when combined with references to specific everyday acts, can inspire and instruct. The pope's opposition to communism offered such occasion, and it is in this arena that John Paul II's legacy will most be felt. In the 1980s, Polish workers, first in Gdansk and then throughout the country, repeatedly went on strike to demand government reform. Supporting their efforts, the pope in October 1988 addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg. No longer should we speak of "Western" and "Eastern" Europe, he proclaimed; all of Europe consisted of one culture because all of Europe had been influenced by the Christian faith. The real split in Europe, he said, was between two different conceptions of humanism. In one version, individuals were conceived of as radically autonomous. In the other, the "source of true freedom" lay in "obedience to God." In countries such as Poland that were struggling for their freedom, it would be wrong to attribute the power of revolutionary movements to secularism. Poles, like so many Eastern Europeans, were appealing to transcendental ideals of conscience that he saw as rooted in Christianity.

Appeals to timeless conceptions of freedom have their greatest power when directed toward people living with relatively little freedom, just as appeals to moral truth inspired those forced to live with the untruths of communism. So corrupt had the communist regimes become that they most likely would have fallen even without John Paul's intervention. But it is difficult to imagine that the revolutions of 1989 would have been so inspirational had not the Polish pope been there to define their meaning.

The revolutions of 1989 gave the people of Eastern Europe political freedom, and long-suppressed demands for economic freedom quickly followed. Envy of Western standards of consumption surely had as much to do with shaping the new Poland and Czech Republic as did the Christian history of Europe. John Wesley once complained that if Methodism were successful, it would furnish creature comforts that would inevitably soften its revivalist spirit. In a similar way, the pope's insistence on timeless moral truths succeeded in creating conditions in which people who once had little freedom at all would come to expect moral freedom as their right.

It is not the business of the Church to soften its teachings in order to court popularity. But doctrine changes from one historical period to another, and even the firmest teachings require interpretation and, before long, beget casuistry. John Paul II will be remembered as one of Catholicism's great prophets, a man willing to insist on the timeless character of Christian morality, whatever the consequences. Whether that insistence results in dissatisfaction with papal rigidity, as it has done in the West, or with great advances in freedom, as it has done in the East, both can be attributed to a man unwilling to tailor his message to fit the circumstances of the day.

Professor of Political Science Alan Wolfe is director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. In "Great Awakening," an interview published in BCM's Fall 2000 issue, he discussed the academic aspirations of U.S. evangelical colleges.

Jews: A new testament, by Ruth Langer

At the Vatican's Jubilee Mass of Pardon on March 12, 2000, Pope John Paul II publicly voiced an extraordinary prayer, one of a series seeking God's forgiveness for Christian sins against various communities: "God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your name to the nations; We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of Yours to suffer, and, asking Your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the covenant."

A hundred or even 50 years ago, no Christian leader would have voiced such a prayer. In contrast, this pope's prayer was anticipated and emulated by bishops and cardinals. It was recognized as consistent with his teachings, an encapsulation of his many statements of remorse for Christianity's long history of teachings and actions against the Jews.

Two weeks later, on March 26, John Paul performed one of the most dramatic symbolic gestures in the postwar history of Jewish-Christian relations. He included in his pilgrimage to the Holy Land a visit to Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall. There he placed the text of this prayer in a crack between the wall's massive stones.

Why was this gesture so powerful? When Christians first gained political control of Jerusalem in the early fourth century, they razed the pagan Roman temple built on the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple. But instead of building a church on that ancient site, the Christians deliberately left it in ruins, even using it as a garbage dump. They transferred the architectural and religious focus of the Holy City to the sites of Jesus's crucifixion and entombment on the neighboring hilltop, building there the massive Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The message was clear and triumphant: Christian holiness superseded Jewish holiness, not just in heavenly realms but on earth as well. Later, the Muslim conquerors of the city in the seventh century added their own claims, building the Dome of the Rock on the site of the Jewish Temple, thus shaping Jerusalem's skyline of rival domes to this day.

For Jews, however, holiness has never left the site of the destroyed Temple, God's chosen dwelling place on earth. The western retaining wall--all that remained inside the city walls of the great platform supporting the Temple--became the place to which Jewish prayer was directed, whether from a distance, whispered at the wall itself, or in notes placed between the ancient stones. For a pope to place his written prayer among the petitions of devout Jews was an acknowledgement, with the strongest of gestures, that the Catholic Church understands Judaism's covenant with God to be eternally valid and that Jewish routes to holiness are indeed sacred.

This was revolutionary. From the first-century composition of the New Testament until the latter half of the 20th century, the Church's view of Judaism was marked by polemical and derogatory language, often leading to violence. Augustinian doctrine taught that Jews continued to exist but in a degraded state only in order to bear witness to the fate of those who reject Christ. Not until 1965 did the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, driven by reflection on the horrors of the Holocaust, officially reverse this teaching of contempt. The Council's "Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions" (Nostra aetate) established pathways for the development of a new relationship between Catholics and Jews.

Pope John Paul II's immediate predecessors began implementing this new teaching, but it is his personal encouragement and interest that has led directly to the great strides forward of the past 20 years. From childhood on, he had close Jewish friends; as a young man he personally witnessed the Nazi destruction of Poland and its Jewish communities. Jews, for him, have faces, names, and personalities. He speaks of Jews as brothers and sisters, and he considers it essential for Catholics to know today's Jews and Judaism, both to deepen these familial ties and to come to a truer understanding of themselves.

Pope John Paul II's statements on Jews and Judaism have been collected into a substantial book, Spiritual Pilgrimage: Texts on Jews and Judaism 1979-95 (Crossroad, 1995). In an introduction, Eugene Fisher, of the National Council of Catholic Bishops, identifies key themes of the pope's teachings. In John Paul's view Judaism has a permanently valid covenant with God and, as such, constitutes a living heritage for the Church. He teaches that the Church must express these ideas fully in catechesis and liturgy. In reflection on issues of importance to contemporary Jews, the pope regularly condemns anti-Semitism and stresses remembrance of the Shoah. And he teaches the Church's recognition of the theological significance of the land and modern state of Israel for Jews. These understandings collectively have allowed the pope to issue a call for collaboration with the Jewish community on joint witness and social action.

While these teachings have immense significance, their impact has been vastly heightened by the pope's gestures--even before he prayed at the Wall. Among these were his 1986 visit to the Great Synagogue in Rome, the first time a pope had ever entered a synagogue in friendship and respect, speaking by invitation of its rabbi. In 1994, John Paul accepted the credentials of the first Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, thus recognizing officially the deep ties between Jews and their ancestral homeland. More recently, in 1998, he endorsed the Vatican's document, "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah," calling on Catholics to examine their consciences and to eradicate the sinful structures of anti-Judaism that allowed the Holocaust and earlier atrocities committed against Jews to occur.

As John Paul often notes, the process of healing almost two millennia of hatred is not easy. We cannot simply erase the consequences of centuries of demonization and disrespect. Entrenched and long-cherished teachings continue to generate new misunderstandings. But the pope's words and deeds are inspiring other Christians to follow in his path: to enter synagogues in friendship, to pray at the Western Wall, and so to demonstrate their deep commitment to the process of repentance and repair.

Rabbi Ruth Langer is an associate professor of theology and a founder of Boston College's Center for Christian-Jewish Learning.

Social Justice: Measured steps, by Margaret O'Brien Steinfels

During his 23 years as pope, John Paul II has compiled a strangely mixed record on social justice internationally. To many, of course, he is the ultimate hero of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, particularly in his native Poland. Certainly the views he set forth in the 1988 encyclical Solicitudo rei socialis ("On Social Concerns") were far ranging and even provocative. Still, a review of the past two decades shows a pope who was instrumental in fostering some national movements for social justice (in Poland and the Philippines, for instance) while he resisted or actively thwarted others, notably in Latin America. Pope John Paul II has observed, if not a double standard on social justice, then a varying standard.

The pope's actions on behalf of Poles were unequivocal: His first visit home helped to rally opposition to the communist regime, and he actively sought U.S. support for Solidarity, the country's militant union movement. But elsewhere in the world he has walked a fine line between mindfulness of the diplomatic proprieties of his office and willingness to support the overthrow of oppression and intolerance. In the Philippines, the peaceful removal from office of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 demonstrated that the nonviolent example of Solidarity had resonance elsewhere, especially with the support of the Catholic community and the pope's personal support of the archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin.

John Paul--and the Vatican diplomatic hierarchy--reacted more critically toward revolutionary movements in Central and Latin America. The photograph of the pope wagging his finger at Nicaraguan Ernesto Cardinale in 1983 was widely interpreted as a rebuke to the priest, who served in the Marxist Sandinista government. That image could also stand as a symbol of the pope's critical view--along with the Vatican's--of liberation theology, whose fostering of often lay-led, localized "base communities," steeped in scriptural understanding and devoted to redressing the woes of the poor, was as rooted in the experience of Central and Latin America as Solidarity was in Eastern Europe.

Solicitudo rei socialis was among the first editorial topics I took up after becoming editor of Commonweal in January 1988, and I paid special attention to it and the reaction to it. The document tackled and criticized the injustices--economic, social, political--created by the division of the world into two blocs, one communist, one capitalist, both imperialistic. Evenhanded scrutiny of the superpowers by a reigning pope was a radical departure, and so too was the analysis that took the North-South divide created by economic and social inequities as seriously as the East-West divide created by the Iron Curtain. The document also looked critically at the conditions that perpetuated a chronic state of underdevelopment in the third world not only in relation to the East and West, but in light of economic and social divisions within third world countries themselves. Solicitudo even forecast the degradation of some countries by describing a "fourth world" utterly bereft of resources for development or the means to secure them.

The encyclical had bite: Conservative columnist William Safire, writing in the New York Times (February 22, 1988), found the pope's treatment of the superpowers to be a species of moral equivalence and an unworthy attempt to curry favor with the third world. Hardly so, but still, John Paul was remarkably frank about the effects of superpower competition and the arms race, and about the dire consequences of development in many nations, including urban homelessness, structural unemployment, and mounting international debt.

Solicitudo went so far as to speak of the "structures of sin"--the political and economic mechanisms that perpetuate social injustice. And though the pope duly noted that such structures were "rooted in personal sin," he forthrightly acknowledged that they "grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins." The document also acclaimed the growing movement for human rights. John Paul pointed to the economic and social inequities that underlay the violations of those rights in many parts of the world. Those violations included, in the mind of the pope, the unmet claims of men and women to "socially mortgaged" goods, that is, goods that belong to all but are possessed in abundance by some and wholly unavailable to others.

For a papal document, Solicitudo advanced a remarkably robust understanding of social injustice, one that seemed to call for profound change. Yet, finally, it did not take practical root in the Vatican or even in the pope's own responses to efforts at creating more just and equitable governments, economic structures, and social measures around the world. It seems that where movements to redress the social structures of sin were clearly in conformity with the pope's analysis, as in Poland and the Philippines, they were supported. Or when they were conducted in a wholly nonviolent manner, as, for example, in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and later Slovenia, the Vatican was quick to offer recognition. (In fact, however, the quick diplomatic recognition by the Vatican and Germany of Croatia and Slovenia in 1992 may have helped precipitate the war that followed in Bosnia.)

Where the struggle did not conform because it fell outside of Church influence, as in Nicaragua, or involved armed insurrection, as in Chiappas, Mexico, the pope seemed to actively oppose efforts at removing the structures of sin. While the Church can hardly be expected to endorse armed violence or revolutions based on Marxist analysis, nowhere do we see in Central and Latin America the flexibility and support that John Paul has shown in Eastern Europe and the Philippines.

John Paul II is only human; he can do only so much, not just about social injustice but about the Vatican. The energy and intelligence he brought to the questions of Poland and the Philippines overrode the cautious and even inertial tendencies of Vatican diplomacy. As recent studies of Vatican diplomacy in the 1920s and 1930s show, it is a diplomacy primarily oriented to securing and protecting the rights of the Church, not protesting social injustices. The pope got away with Poland and the Philippines because he knew better than the Vatican bureaucracy and diplomatic corps; but Poland and the Philippines were not the rule, they were the exception. And Solicitudo rei socialis, which I found so heartening back in 1988, may prove to be a testament to Pope John Paul II's vision and not a blueprint for Vatican policy.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels is the editor of Commonweal.

Salvation: Love and death by Leon Hooper, SJ
On several occasions over a 15-year period, my Slavic mother, Anne Savulak, announced that she just didn't understand her Polish pope--a statement usually accompanied by a sad shake of her head. Such announcements were all the more surprising after she had just finished translating something of his from the Polish.

Her problem "understanding" him continued right through her last nine months, as she fought to the mat a glioblastoma. At first she greeted news of the brain tumor with relief. ("Oh, good. I thought I was going crazy.") But the tumor didn't remain her friend for long. Soon, with her doctors, she gave it no quarter, giving no quarter either to anyone who suggested that the tumor might express God's will for her. A well-meaning chaplain caught not the first nor the last salvo of her sure assertion that being robbed of her fifth-grade students was not a good idea, that it was not worthy of God. The chaplain had given Anne, a teacher of religion, portions of Salvifici doloris ("On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering"), John Paul's 1984 letter on the salvific aspects of suffering, to help her understand, in faith, the disease she fought with radium 226 implants. After stomping through the text, she announced that dying was not salvific. Loving fifth graders and her husband was. And, she added, with specific folks in mind, so was loving one's enemies. Any salvation to be had was present in the loving, not in the suffering, was present despite the suffering.

Not wanting to get caught in that battle, my sister and I tried outlining for Anne secular notions of the normative stages of dying, including denial (which she was not much good at), bargaining and anger (which she did well), and of course acceptance as a form of Enlightenment (with a capital E). She shot back that the mere recommendation of acceptance was outrageous, dumb, not worthy of her fifth graders, and a bit cowardly. God had better have a smarter idea or he would hear about it from her. She eventually went off--in communion with her family and fifth graders and Slavic roots--with the sure and insistent knowledge that God would get it right somehow, that the God who touched her in loving would not allow that loving to die.

Common to both my Slavic mother and our Slavic pope is a faith that our saving God can and must be encountered in this world of peoples and histories, not simply within the human personal interior nor simply within the Church's sacraments. God redeems by "taking up" our social flesh--that social flesh in all its moral complexity. But my mother and the pope differ on where in the world we find the privileged place of God's redeeming, and herein lies the difficulty that Westerners (and recently Easterners) have in understanding and being understood by John Paul.

John Paul privileges the cursed locations of our world as the places where individuals and civilizations are specially grasped by redeeming grace. In Salvifici doloris he spells out a phenomenology of salvation in the following terms: "People who suffer become similar to one another through the analogy of their situation, the trial of their destiny, or through their need for understanding and care, and perhaps above all through the persistent question of the meaning of suffering." Suffering is first the solvent that strips us of that which is not of God, and then the metaphysical glue that binds together all fragile human creatures. Ultimately those who suffer become similar to, nearly identical with, Christ crucified. In Christ's passion, those who suffer are transformed into the good of social, cosmic, divine Solidarity. Redemption finds us in our obedience to the Father's will that Christ suffer. It is this obedience in suffering, John Paul argues, that brought down communism--not any positive actions by the Poles, or the West, or the Russian troops in Moscow who couldn't stomach killing their own.

For both Anne Savulak and John Paul, death is the final and ultimate form of suffering, not a happy completion to a good life as in Enlightenment dying. (Anne's given middle name, which she joyfully abandoned in marriage, was Dolores.) Certainly for both, God is fully present in living as well as dying. But Anne found God especially in the hard work of reaching out in challenge of death and of all that robs us of our fellow creatures. For her, salvation lay in an action, an active loving that knew no capitulation.

For John Paul, however, salvation lies in a passion, an obedience that might then demand that we act, but is at its core a surrender to the nailed immobility of the cross. In the final reel, John Paul is suspicious of Western insistence on human action that is not constrained by ultimate passivity, by immobility. Anne Savulak and the West in general are suspicious of any redemption that is not at its core an act challenging the "natural" limits placed on loving, including those imposed by the nails of the cross.

Leon Hooper, SJ, Ph.D.'83, is a senior research fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. He last wrote for BCM, in Winter 1995, about the theologian John Courtney Murray, SJ.

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