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Pope John Paul and U.S. Church

August 20, 1993

* Pope John Paul II just doesn't get it, does he ("Pontiff Assails U.S. Church," Aug. 15)? That many teen-agers of today are engaged in sexual activity is a "given." That sex, unprotected by contraceptive devices, results in many unwanted children is yet another "given." That society as a whole must shoulder the burden in hundreds of ways for all those unwanted babies is the biggest "given" of all.

We Catholics of the United States ("the "supermarket" Catholics as the Vatican hierarchy so disdainfully refer to us) are the ones who have to face the problems of the "real" world while the "Sleeping Giant of Rome" (Catholic Church) continues to dream the dreams of anachronistic folly. Its recalcitrant insistence that prayer and abstinence are the answer to today's problems fills me with rage and sadness at the same time.



* This latest message from the Pope is disappointing, but predictable. Like going home after many years of estrangement and realizing your parents haven't become any more tolerable than they were when you left.

At a time when the world is beset by overpopulation and the spread of AIDS, we are told that artificial birth control is evil. When unwanted children roam our streets with guns and paint cans, we are told that abortion is evil. At a time when sexually repressed priests are having their way with the children entrusted to their care, we are scolded for creating scandal. In a nation where women are coming into their own, we are told that women are inferior. In a society where people are searching for direction, we are told to abandon our feelings and our free will.

I think the Vatican leaders are no different from the leaders of any other organized religions. In seeking to out-populate the other religions of the world, they strive for power. Through the continued adherence to the strictures from an ancient era, where sexuality and women have no place, they seek control, regardless of the cost in terms of human suffering.

The Catholic religion will never change. Its leaders are afraid of change. It is the children of the faith who must change. It is time for them to grow up and find their own way in the world. It is time for them to stop relying on other people to define their own spirituality.


Buena Park

* I was saddened yet not surprised at the negativity that was intertwined in your article "Will Religious Fervor Outlast Pope's Visit?" (Aug. 14). The young people who went from the Los Angeles area were encouraged to earn the approximately $500 that was needed to make this trip possible. They worked many hours on many different fund-raisers. They did this not to go to some resort area, they did it to go to Denver. There they would be with other young people who share their beliefs.

Your religion writer totally missed a rare opportunity. Instead of focusing on the effort of the nearly 185,000 youth who gathered in Denver, he instead continually questioned "how long-lasting will the fervor be."

Let's give our youth a chance. Let's not fill them with the notion that they will fail. Instead, why not encourage them to draw from this experience, why not encourage them to be the role models that our young people of today need. When today's youth hear of other youth from the media it is because they have been involved in gangs, drive-by shootings, drugs or tagging. For a change let us give them the chance that they deserve. They are our future.



* You really blew it with your article detailing the Pope's meeting with President Clinton (Aug. 13). In the article, the statement is made that "John Paul's view of the world and how to fix it is a lot closer to Clinton's than it was to George Bush's or Ronald Reagan's."

Not only is this statement not supported by the facts but this is the type of material that belongs in the Opinion section of your newspaper, not on the front page. Obviously, the reporter is attempting to siphon off some of the goodwill and decency emanated by the Pope and shower it on Clinton and his Administration. Your headline "Abortion Aside, Clinton and Pope Share Values" is akin to saying "Mathematics Aside, Two Plus Two Equals Five."


Los Angeles

* I was shocked to read Tad Szulc suggest the Pope "put his spiritual world in order" in his article about the visit of Pope John Paul II to Colorado ("Pope Struggles to Reverse Church's Ebbing Influence," Opinion, Aug. 8). What does Szulc know about the spirituality of one of the holiest men on Earth?

Szulc intellectualizes about the Catholic Church and uses questionable statistics ("Catholic baptisms dropped by 10% notwithstanding normal Catholic population increases") to support his argument.

What galls me the most, however, is that Szulc does not mention until the second to the last paragraph that the purpose of the Pope's trip is to convey a message of peace and love. Why bother?

I advise Szulc to put his journalism in order, especially if he expects his biography of the Pope to be critically acclaimed.



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