Novak is right that the Pope will lead the Catholic Church into the next century, but Novak has missed the point that so will a lot of other people. Catholicism is not a one-man show, even though one man, the Pope, symbolizes the unity within Catholicism. Many voices, including some dissident voices, are in the vanguard of Catholic leadership. No one, not even the Pope can supply all the leadership the Church needs. No man, not even the Pope, has the answers to all the problems facing the Catholic Church.
Nor is it consumerism and self-indulgence that lie at the bottom of the tension in the American Catholic Church. It is a matter of freedom and justice in the church, a matter of mature conscience that must refuse to be led blindly. It is a perception that sinfulness is present even in the inner recesses of church leadership, in both an individual and in an institutional way.
Even with all these gripes which must be aired and must be heard by the Pope, the predominant note of the Pope's visit is one of joy, love, and loyalty deeper than anything that tempts us to division. The true Catholic, even the dissident Catholic, does not intend to go anywhere without the Pope. We love him and pray for him, even though we will continue to trouble him with our concerns. The Vatican will change, even if not on a schedule we can make, because even John Paul is subject to a higher authority. However, we intend to influence that schedule as much as we can.
ROBERT E. DOUD