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John Paul II: The pope of push-back

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One Catholic says John Paul II's 26 years as pope took us back instead of forward. What one part of JPII's legacy is most significant to you?

For me, John Paul II is the pope of the push-back. That is the legacy, I fear, that will outlive all the other achievements of his long reign. The promises of the Second Vatican Council were still warm when he was elected. But by the time of his passing, many had become comatose if not dead.

The collegiality of bishops working in cooperation with the pope and local bishops taking responsibility for decisions within their own conferences? It's never happened. From the beginning John Paul's synods with groups of bishops were little more than opportunities for them to rubber-stamp decisions made by the Roman curia. The local conferences have less freedom than they had even before Vatican II.

Serious and creative liturgical reform? It's now in reverse. John Paul made it clear early that was committed to the old Latin Mass and encouraged bishops and priests to follow his lead.

The coming of age of the laity? The struggle goes on, yet the rising number of former Catholics gives evidence of the despair many feel that they will never have a voice in this church.

The empowerment of women? I won't even start on that.

At the end of Vatican II it was said that the Catholic Church had never been more respected in the world. Now, midway through Benedict's term, the church is a sign of bitter contradiction both in the world and among its own people.

—Robert McClory, U.S. Catholic contributor

Read more about Pope John Paul II at

What one part of JPII's legacy is most significant to you? Email a short response to Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.