01 November 2017
To Karol Josef Wojtyla, freedom of speech was an alien concept
Nobody likes to admit it, but the central mission of Pope Francis is emerging as the dismantling of the legacy of Pope John Paul II. The day after the death of that first non-Italian Pope since 1523, I wrote a piece in the London Evening Standard describing him as “the best of popes, and the worst of popes”. I’ve seen no reason to revise that judgement. But as Shakespeare told us, the best “is oft interred with their bones” while the worst lives after them. While he lived, the compassionate, animating spirit of John Paul II mitigated the dead hand of his doctrinal authoritarianism. But not afterwards. And that is the problem Francis has inherited.
Pope Benedict may have glimpsed the truth in this, and it may be what lay behind his address to Westminster Hall during his state visit to the UK in 2010.
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