It feels a little ungracious to be expressing any dissatisfaction with Pope John Paul II, what with millions of Catholics pouring into Rome to mourn his death this week. The pope was obviously sincerely dedicated to his role as head of the Roman Catholic Church, and his devotion to a "pro-life" ethic had the virtue of being mostly consistent -- unlike many of those in America who appropriate that label for themselves, the pope was at least as anti-death penalty and anti-war as he was anti-choice. Plus he thought that concern for the already-born poor was also part of the pro-life position, in stark contrast to a majority of American Republicans. All good things, needless to say.
Where the pope's stock plummetted, in the Peach's fuzzy estimation, is in his manifestly anti-life position for the gay citizens of the world. In addition to throwing around phrases like "intrinsic moral evil" to describe a homosexual orientation, the pope seemed to understand, if not approve, violence against gays when he warned against extending equal rights to gays by suggesting that "neither the church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase."
The Bay Windows article linked above further notes that in a 1986 pastoral letter on the "care of homosexual persons," he told bishops to beware of "deceitful" gay " propaganda" That letter resulted in the gay Catholic group Dignity being banned from Roman Catholic churches.
When it comes to misty-eyed musings about this pope's legacy, we hope the SCLM devotes at least as much airtime to John Paul's retrograde rantings about the alleged moral degeneracy of gays, and the resulting damage to the dignity and lives of gay people (especially gay Catholics), as they inevitably will to his religious devotion and concern for the poor and needy. We would not, however, want to put a very big bet on that actually happening. .