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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
The Pope's Silver Jubilee: Your thoughts
We discussed the Pope's 25th anniversary in our phone-in programme, Talking Point.


It is exactly 25 years since John Paul II was elected Pope.

Vatican city is in festive mood, with celebrations marking both the pontiff's anniversary and the entire 2000 year history of the church.

Pope John Paul II has played a prominent role on the world stage, helping to bring down Communism in Europe but also campaigning against war and the excesses of capitalism.

However, his conservative views on divorce, contraception and abortion have been widely criticised, and the Vatican's recent statement that condoms will not stop the spread of AIDS caused outrage.

The crisis over child sex abuse in the church has also overshadowed the last few years of his papacy.

What is the Pope's legacy? What is the future for the Catholic church? Should there be more dialogue between different religions? What do you think of the church's position on sex abuse and contraception?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received.

It is time for the Pope to retire
Marlena, Gdansk, Poland
I am very proud that the Pope is from my country. However it is time for him to retire. I know there is no such thing but maybe it should be introduced. He should be allowed to sit in the library or wherever he feels best and rest. It is painful to watch him suffering and still making an effort to appear!
Marlena, Gdansk, Poland

I just spent this weekend (the first anniversary of my reception into the Church) in Rome, celebrating the life of Blessed Mother Teresa with 300,000(?) Catholics and the Holy Father. I can't understand how anyone can fail to see how close he is to Christ.
Mhari Dunlop, Manchester/ Edinburgh, UK

He modernised religion, and its old fashioned ways. He left the Vatican to meet the people in other countries. He heard them, he brought all faiths together with these visits. May God Bless him, make him an Angel and Saint. He is the people's Pope of all time. I am not Catholic, or even very religious, but this man means so much to the poor, the rich, the sick and the healthy. Peace be with you John Paul II.
Corinne Gardner, Hastings, England

Truth is intolerant of error, dialogue ought not to be confused with welcoming error and heresy into the Fullness of Truth. Following secular norms in their views of contraception and sex relations other than between married individuals would be a great error for the Church. The Church holds the moral obligation to stand true to its 2000 year teachings on these matters.
Cathleen, California, USA

Looking at the colourful array of cardinals, it occurred to me that it is a pity more of them are not women. Having early in my life thought the celibate male priest a cut above the rest of us, I now think that the Catholic Church, and John Paul's successor, will have to address this issue if the church is not to die out, at least in Europe.
Jay, London, UK

A beacon of hope
A symbol of peace and Unity of purpose
Tireless, selfless servant and Great Endurance
A seasoned Traveller of Good Purpose
Universal Leader
George Gyader, Accra, Ghana

The Pope is for almost all Polish people (even atheists) a source of positive energy, a symbol of national unity and solidarity, and an excellent example to follow. It is impossible to describe the feeling of a person taking part in a Pope's Mass at Blone Park, or standing in a crowd in front of the Cracow Archbishop's Palace when the Pope is there. I deeply believe that John Paul II will lead the Church for many long years and wish Him lots of health.
Piotrek, Kraków, Poland

We need to ensure that we promote a safe sex attitude. Without this we will all be standing on each others heads.
Dave, Chatham, UK
The biggest issue to affect all of us in the next 25-50 years is over population. We need to ensure that we promote a safe sex attitude. Without this we will all be standing on each others heads. It is the one and only issue that all leaders, religious or otherwise should be encouraging us to stick with. Unfortunately Pope John and so many others seem to want us to ruin our planet for the sake of a god who in my mind never existed and likewise will not return to help us!
Dave, Chatham, UK

John Paul II is truly among the great men of the 20th century perhaps the last such. It remains to be seen what this great man can contribution to the 21st century.
Alex Bloor, Chesterfield, UK

Good deeds not withstanding, the Pope and those that follow him believe in a mythology that provides no shred evidence to back its claims of the existence of a god. Adults should look to themselves for answers rather than laying their problems at the feet of some metaphysical "Santa Claus".
michael, TN, USA

The Pope has been monumental to the Church and the world at large. On contraception and child abuse, he has tried vehemently to promote the status of women and children and the family in general.
Conrad, Kenya

He is self contradictory: he does not want to encourage family planning yet is antiabortion. Then how does a woman deal with an unwanted pregnancy?? Fine he apologised to women for the way the church has treated them but what has he actually done to change things? The church - not only Catholics is in danger as is Islam because of its stand on women's status and unless someone does something there will be no future for it.
Layla, USA

His Holiness Pope John Paul 11 has work assiduously and relentlessly for the Catholic church and the whole of the universe in trying to bring peace and harmony in the whole of the universe. As he is celebrating his 25th anniversary I think it is time for people to commend him for his industrious work he has performed as a good Shepherd of his people. But that should not only be the case what i think it should be is time for people to critically look at the future of the Catholic Church as it is still holding on its celibacy ideology. Does it go down well with the clergy and members of the church or is it been realistic? What next after Pope John Paul? I think these are some of the questions Catholics most start asking their church leaders.
Harry Gbetuwa, Freetown/Sierra Leone

John Paul II is the living saint in my life span. He is well spoken, powerful and courageous catholic spiritual leader.
JOSE PHILIP, NANUET, NY

John Paul II is one of the greatest Pope in the history of the Church. He is an inspiration to all the world, not just to Catholics, for his moral integrity and spiritual charisma.
Daniel Rius, London, England

I am now beginning to really appreciate everything he was done for humanity
Romeo Montalvo, Brownsville, Texas, US
There was a time in my life when I mocked the Pope and ridiculed people for looking up to him as if he was a god, but I am now beginning to really appreciate everything he was done for humanity. I was very closed minded and didn't trust the man and it was not until very recently, that I have had time to learn more about his life, and Catholicism, that I began to respect him and respect the faith, and the unity that they have maintained. There is much to be said about that - yes.
Romeo Montalvo, Brownsville, Texas, United States

I am very concerned with the Pope's anti-abortion stance in particular in poor third world communities. Most worrying are his views on the use of condoms as an aid to prevent the spread of the HIV/Aids virus again in poor third world countries.
Yvonne A. Preston, Dubai, UAE

The Catholic Church and other denomination should enter into dialogue to find ways of dealing with the ills in the society. The Catholic church teachings have been contradicted by many, in the hope of winning the faithful, but the church still stands, why? Based on Pope John Paul II and the Catholic stance on condoms, abortion and war. He has been misunderstood by many and probably led to him not winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The Catholic Church calls for responsibility and not irresponsibility. In case people are allowed to use condoms as a way of protection against Aids, it will be viewed as a call on irresponsibility. As a practising Christian I do agree with the Church's strong stance on abortion, condoms usage, for the importance of human value.
Andrew Oluoch, Rome, Italy

God Bless you dear Father of the World
Dr, Harold E. Robles, Oostvoorne, The Netherlands

The Pope was part of the generation of priests that participated in removing Communist rule and dictators in Europe and parts of Asia. The widening of the scope of what it means to be moral, at a time when world issues relating to governance and later conflict among countries were affecting normal citizens, increased the relevance of my Catholic faith and helped me integrate it into my life better, without robbing me of rationality. I do not condone the HIV policy but coming from a country that ousted a dictator, I think the mental scorecard we have for the Pope and the Vatican has to take all these things into consideration.
Geraldine, Quezon City, Philippines

There should be more dialogue between the religions but only after they all have sorted out their own internal problems. Like most religion, Christianity is facing an identity crisis too as it finds its followers becoming more liberal and wanting changes which challenge some very essential rituals/beliefs which is unacceptable to the traditionalists.
Arif Sayed, Dubai,UAE

The Catholic Church is losing more people because it will not change its antiquated views on divorce. I for one was a practicing catholic and through no fault of my own I was divorced. Now I am not allowed to practise any sacraments. Where is the Christian forgiveness in this issue?
William, Darwen, Lancs

I cannot really congratulate this man because of the attitude taken by Catholics regarding family planning
Sandra, USA
I cannot really congratulate this man because of the attitude taken by Catholics regarding family planning. While thousands suffer in poverty because they cannot support the many children they have the Vatican is nothing but a symbol of extreme wealth pomp and pageantry. The church has done little to improve the status of women around the world so he has little to celebrate
Sandra, USA

The pope has changed society in a way that no one has or ever will!
Bogdan, Brooklyn, NY, USA

The Pope is a living relic from another age. The stand on the church on sexuality, ordination of women, abortion or divorce sounds intolerant to us. But we only have to look at the Vatican for what it is: an extraordinarily economically successful empire with spiritual authority on one billion of world citizens and which is not submitted to any independent scrutiny .This is the legacy of ancient Europe.
Sarita Boolell, Mauritius

His legacy will last for decades ...I still remember his words "Don't be afraid"... which he said in Warsaw 1979...the outside enemy (communism) has been destroyed...we need today to fight our inside enemy ...the sin. God bless the JP II the Great.
Wes, Poland/ Canada,

The number of practicing Catholics has been declining year after year
Max Brenner, Porto Alegre, Brazil
John Paul II has undoubtedly carried an important message of peace and faith. Although His Holiness is much loved and revered in Brazil, the country that harbours the largest number of Roman Catholics in the world, the number of practicing Catholics has been declining year after year.

One explanation for this reduction is the Vatican's strict position on issues like abortion, birth control, sexuality, homosexuality, and AIDS prevention. The role of condoms in AIDS prevention, for example, is clear-cut and cannot be overemphasized. If the Church cannot clarify its standpoints to the laic community, the migration of Catholics to other religions and beliefs will undoubtedly continue.
Max Brenner, Porto Alegre, Brazil

John Paul II is indeed an exceptional personality and his influence is no longer a matter of debate, despite his conservative stands on the use of condoms and Catholic priests marriage among others. But there is a dramatic difference between his prestige and the Church he heads. It is slowly but surely being deserted by its members and will need a real revolution to deal with the 21st century man who is becoming less and less spiritual. This is a challenge for the next Pope.
Olivier Mpumuro, Kigali, Rwanda

Pope John Paul II's legacy will be a large one on many levels. Historically, he was a clear factor in Poland's defeat of Communism; leading the way for the end of Communism in eastern Europe. Spiritually, reached out to people in all countries usually in their own language. He especially reached out to youth and showed to them just how important they are to the future of the world. Morally, he preserved the integrity of the Church's principles. Lastly, he clearly lived his faith by forgiving and visiting in prison the man who tried to take his life in 1981. He will be remembered as one of the greatest and most effective popes in recent memory. He will be criticized for his stand on birth control, but this will be overshadowed by the larger picture. The youth of the world love him and they are the future. Perhaps they will be his greatest legacy.
Noreen Hasior, New York

Archbishop Rowan Williams, having had an audience with the Pope very recently said this "The most important thing it was to convey from this meeting is his indomitable spirit". While he may look frail, all those who meet him, speak of this extraordinary energy. Don't write him off. As one Vatican official said, "Many journalist who have reported that the Pope was dying are now in heaven."
Robert Toone, East Keswick, Leeds UK

I am a better Catholic, sinner as I am, because of this inspirational living saint. The tide that has started to turn in the evangelisation in the Church is because of this holy man. The Church should set standards for the world, not the other way round. The Pope proposes, not imposes, and we wilfully follow.
Francis Okello, Kampala

I pray that the Pope is given strength to carry on his work
Steve, UK
I hope people remember the instrumental role that Pope John Paul II had in bringing down the Communist regime in Eastern Europe. He stood up to the dictatorships in these countries and brought hope to many. You only have to read some of the accounts from the KGB archives to realise how great a threat the USSR thought he was. I pray that the Pope is given strength to carry on his work. I hope that his successor starts a campaign to rebut some of the misleading stories about the Catholic Church and the bigotry against it, particularly in the UK. I'm sure the media would not attack other faiths so fervently.
Steve, UK

Pope John Paul II has come after more than 250 popes, 2000 years of church history. The fact that his moral stand on contraception, divorce, celibate priesthood, homosexuality etc. comes as no surprise - none of the previous popes have changed the stand of the church and none ever will because the Pope is there not to exercise his personal values but to guard the deposit of faith and morals entrusted to him by God and God is unchanging.
Trisha Azcona, Singapore

Religion was not in the beginning of this world but it will surely be the end. It is time to stop arguing over who has the best version of 'God' and to become one's own master. To live life as one actually experiences it and not how one is conditioned to receive it. This is my daily prayer for our world. And all the best to the Pope, his endurance is admirable as is his desire to spread the word of peace.
Anon, Germany

Please read his Encyclicals - with every word he upholds the dignity of the human being. His words are gifts to all of us. He has never wavered in upholding the Truth. God bless and keep him. He will be known as Pope John Paul the Great
Cecilia Gittins, Manchester, England

I commend the Pope for this adherence to his beliefs and for maintaining a presence of peace in our troubled world. However, I think his decisions on condoms in regards to HIV and well as his stance on homosexuality are doing more to destroy the church than anything else is. But I attribute this to his age and the mentality of that time period that helped shape his views on these things. My prayers go out to this man as he reaches the end of his life's path. But I hope his successor is a little more educated and progressive.
Tom Bachman, Colorado - United States

Though I'm not a Catholic and I do not agree with some of the Catholic Church's positions there is no doubt about the incredible impact this man of faith has had upon the world. I had the opportunity to see the Pope during his first trip to the US and I have been impressed with him since.
Loren Strait, United States

I'm a non-Catholic but I can't forget the crucial role John Paul II played in liberating Europe from communism. He made his mark on history.
Rob, Brussels, Belgium

While the Pope's stance on some issues is questionable (in particular AIDS and contraception in Africa), it is with sadness that I see the deterioration of this great and dedicated man. It is only recently that I have been struck with the reality; John Paul II is a very old, very ill man. Were he anyone else he would be spending his days resting. That he continues is, to me, not a sign of stubbornness, but one of true dedication and love.
Erin, Versailles, France

Like so many born under totalitarian regimes, Pope has railed against that mode of government
Wolf, Leuven, Belgium
No Pope in recent history has done so much to forward the goals and aspirations of the Catholic Church and Christian religions, and at the same time, to hinder the same message of hope that he himself has so often pronounced. Like so many born under totalitarian regimes, Pope John Paul II has railed against that mode of government which had suppressed him and his people, only to unconsciously adopt many of the same techniques of suppression once he came to power of his own.
Wolf, Leuven, Belgium

In spite of his suffering he remains the most tireless moral voice of our age. Reminding the world of the worth of every individual from conception to natural death in our modern world. He has set guidelines based on the truth for myself and my future. May we be Blessed with the peace that surpasses all peace as he has been.
Frances Roxburgh, (aged 16.) Scotland

Pope John Paul II, when you came to Uganda in 1993 you devoted a full day to meet the youth. You told them that they are the future of the church. That message still rings in our ears. The Luminous mysteries are yet another achievement of your time. You are a great friend of Africa as regards justice. I was greatly touched by your encyclical. You are a great writer, a man of prayer, a peaceful freedom fighter, a most world travelled Pope.
Kajoba Vincent, Kampala, Uganda

Let's remember that the Catholic Church presided over physical and cultural genocide in Africa, West Indies and India. Just because he seems grandfatherly and has plenty of media attention doesn't mean he doesn't have a brutal legacy to apologize for.
VMurthy, Bangalore, India

John Paul II We love you! He is a wonderful man and a brilliant leader. His willingness to stand up for the truth make him the perfect religious leader for our times. His relationship with youth prove that his legacy will live on and flourish. Just look at any World Youth Day event he has hosted. They are amazing! He is a true apostle that enlivens the flock entrusted to his care.
Joseph Horejs, San Diego, CA, USA

Some of the 'facts' being passed via the church spectacularly break the "thou shalt not lie" commandment
Phillip Holley, London, UK
Whilst I applaud him for sticking to the beliefs of the religion and not 'modernising', I cannot condone the untruths being passed to his followers regarding condoms and the spread of AIDS. Whilst I understand and respect the stand against condom use and promotion of chastity instead, some of the 'facts' being passed via the church spectacularly break the "thou shalt not lie" commandment and are damaging to Africa in particular.
Phillip Holley, London, UK

The countries in Africa with the most serious AIDS epidemics are the Southern African countries, such as South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The majority of Christians in these countries are Protestant not Catholic. The countries with larger Catholic populations, such as the Congo, Cameroon, central Africa in general, have lower rates of HIV infection.
Jude, Manchester, UK

I think it is high time people stopped criticising the Pope and Roman Catholic church over their handling of the paedophile priest scandal. If they started being sanctimonious and saying that these priests should rot in hell, they would be openly disobeying the teachings of the Bible in the same way the Anglican church has done by appointing homosexual priests. To not forgive people, who commit heinous crimes like these is unchristian. I am glad that some people like the Pope have chosen to set an example, as all conflicts in the world could be avoided if both sides paid attention to what Jesus said on the matter.
Graeme Phillips, Berlin, Germany (normally UK)

I am disgusted with the bigotry that Catholics are treated with in this country
Liz, Reigate, UK
Speaking as a Catholic in England I am disgusted with the bigotry that Catholics are treated with in this country. More ill will is held against Catholics than against any Muslim. The fact that the BBC has chosen this week to air some of the most offensive programmes intended to insult Catholics shows what outcasts we are in our own country. Having said that, the Pope is the most wonderful human being alive and I feel privileged to be able to celebrate his 25th Anniversary as the leader of my faith.
Liz, Reigate, UK

The Pope has demonstrated the firm beliefs of a true Christian. How many men can ask for forgiveness from a person who wanted him dead? This is true forgiveness. Please, he is not conservative - he has preached the word of God, like an evangelist. He has reached the whole world. He will be a saint one day
Elizabeth Nkechi Maduemezia, Asaba, Delta State Nigeria

Why do many of these commentaries criticise the Pope for not "bringing the Catholic Church into the 21st Century"? Surely the beauty of the Creed is it's absolute, timeless stance on morality despite the failings of modernity. In terms of sexuality, perhaps abstinence IS the best option, and rather than finding fault within the Church's doctrine, it is within us?
PeterS, Cambrudge, UK

Although I was raised in a very Catholic environment, I only get angry and frustrated when I hear the Vatican's policy. Every one is talking about Muslim fundamentalists these days, but it seems to me the Pope is a catholic fundamentalist which is just as bad. For example, the Vatican suggested there should be a "Christian" reference in the European constitution. I thought the French revolution ended the link between church and state? It's time the Church came down from it's secluded ivory tower and had a look around today's world. One thing the Pope is right about: it's people like Mother Theresa who are today's saints. The history of the church has unfortunately been one of hypocrisy and oppression.
Leen , Gent, Belgium

The pope's hard line on moral issues is a guideline to aspire to
Frances Reilly, Lanarkshire, Scotland
The pope's hard line on moral issues is a guideline to aspire to. He does not want to come out and say that anything goes. He sets standards and it is up to the individual's conscience if they want to and manage to aspire to these. What I think has been a big mistake is the number of saints John Paul has created in his reign. He has created more than in the previous 2000 years of the papacy. It took many martyrs hundreds of years to be recognised as saints and it should be very exceptional to be a saint. It now seems much more commonplace.
Frances Reilly, Lanarkshire, Scotland

I noticed that this morning's BBC's television news described Pope John Paul II as being the head of the Catholic Church. While the Pope is the leader of the world's Catholics, Jesus Christ is the head of the Catholic Church
Kevin Flaherty, New Mills, Derbyshire, United Kingdom

I work for a Catholic publisher, and John Paul II is our most prolific and popular author. Contrary to popular belief, he is not so much "conservative" as "radically orthodox". Who else has done so much to foster religious dialogue for example, while still professing the uniqueness of Christ? I think his legacy will live on, not least among a whole new generation of young people, who find his message of hope their only lifeboat in a troubled world.
Adrian Thacker, London, UK

There is nothing admirable about sticking to one's beliefs. It is the willingness to change one's beliefs that should be admired, especially in a world that is far more complex than many people would like to imagine.
Daniel, London, UK

I would like to congratulate the Pope on his Silver Jubilee and may the Lord bless him and give him all the strength he needs to run the church.
Monde Mubita, Kitwe-Zambia

Pope John Paul II shall be considered as the best marketing manager in the history of the Roman Church
Carlo Boarotto, München, Germany
Pope John Paul II shall be considered as the best marketing manager in the history of the Roman Church. He massively took advantage of the media in order to have always the best exposure like a politician. In a world where the media exposure can determinate the success of presidents and governors, he tried to reinforce the supremacy of the Roman Church over the other religions and its political influence. Under his leadership the Church shows its appetite for power especially in Latin America, forgetting Oscar Romero and the priests defending human rights. And what about his relation with Opus Dei? He's a politician, indeed, and not always an honest one. I think that his image will fade in the future and will get a more balanced judgment.
Carlo Boarotto, München, Germany

It is unfortunate that many of the comments I have read here are blatantly anti-Catholic. This Pope and the Catholic Church are simply preaching the faith handed down to them from its original leader, Jesus Christ. The comments that the Church or Pope are old fashioned and out of touch are baseless. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament, this Pope has preached the Word of God to a world that continues to reject God. His papacy has truly been great and he will one day be canonized as a saint and doctor of the church!
Mike R., New York, USA

The Pope's legacy will be as a beacon of morality in an increasingly vulgar, selfish and ignorant world. He leaves a strong Church dedicated to the teachings of Christ and well poised to spread the Gospel further. The liberal press loves to say he is conservative.... No, he is orthodox. It's about time the liberals starting learning the difference. Everyone else has and he is more popular for it.
Joseph Giardina, Mt. Kisco, NY USA

May his remaining years be fruitful and faithful to His calling in God.
Raymond, San Francisco
Although I now worship in a non-denominational evangelical church, I have always admired Pope John Paul II. His moral clarity and courage to stand for what is right in the face of ridicule have won me over. I have not severed my Catholicism because of John Paul. May his remaining years be fruitful and faithful to His calling in God.
Raymond, San Francisco, California

Although I am not a Catholic (I am CofE) I have a huge amount of respect for this man. He is one of very few people in the public eye today who has the courage to stick to what he believes is right. He has an incredible conviction of faith, something of which I am extremely jealous. If we spent more time listening to truly inspired people such as the Pope then the world might be a much better place. All he is trying to do is spread the good word of God and to promote peace. It is only a shame that it looks as if we won't get another 25 years out of this man.
Jonathan White, United Kingdom

This man is admirable, charismatic and focused. But the institution he represents is no longer credible. I was raised as Catholic in my homeland, Mexico, and during my youth I had to give up Catholicism entirely because it does not fit at all in modern society. At that time I felt that all these views on divorce, contraception and abortion are nothing more than attempts to rule our very personal decisions. As a kid, I took it. But no longer.
Eugenia Kothe, Idstein, Germany

He has failed to keep in touch with and to grasp some key issues facing modern society
James, London
An intelligent philosopher he may be, but he has failed to keep in touch with and to grasp some key issues facing modern society. As a result, he will perhaps rather unfortunately probably be remembered as the very picture of inertia, a missed opportunity, representing an increasingly marginalised "conservative" school within religion that is fast, and one has to say thankfully, dying out - if the Church is to retain any positive influence in society.
James, London, UK

I'm annoyed that the Pope has said that Catholics should not hold religious ceremonies with other religions. In Australia we have enjoyed holding ceremonies that included all faiths and I am sure it has brought us all closer to our Gods and to each other.
Louise, Sydney, Australia

The Pope is a good man and the Catholic Church has done many good charitable things. But, all religious institutions that prohibit birth control should accept the moral and financial responsibility for the care of the poor victims of their policies that ravage the populations of poor countries.
Tom Penn, Chattanooga, USA

The Pope needs to accept the fact that some of the teachings of the Church are not applicable to the modern world. Contraception is a big issue. In Ecuador, for example, how can the Church condemn contraception if hundreds of kids are born every year without the resources to survive? Isn't it a bigger sin to raise children in poverty than using condoms?
Jorge Almeida, Quito, Ecuador

He has done everything to make the Catholic Church a relevant moral and spiritual force in the modern world
Maja Razlog, Sarajevo
It is rather sad that most people responding on this site will remember this Pope only by his stance on birth control. This is not because I agree with him, but because his legacy is so much larger than this one issue. I think that he has helped the legacy of the Second Vatican Council take a firm root. He has done everything to make the Catholic Church a relevant moral and spiritual force in the modern world. He may have taken a different path than many of us would have wanted him to, and he has made some egregious mistakes. But one should not be judged only by his or her worst mistakes. It is a fact that the Church today is a much different, more modern place than it was forty years ago. The Pope's efforts in promoting peace, inter-religious dialogue, democracy (well, not within the Church itself), and the wellbeing of workers are well known and hard to argue about.
Maja Razlog, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

He is just a man doing what he believes to be the best for the world. Sadly, I don't agree with his views on birth control and feel that he has missed a golden opportunity to bring the Catholic Church into the modern world. Within a generation the Catholic Church will only be popular in the third world which, with its views on birth control, will be a disaster.
R.C.Robjohn, UK

While growing up in a staunch catholic family background and community I was taught to have respect and love for the Vatican. I am now amazed at hoe we were brain washed and fooled. How can the Catholic Church take such a hard line view on contraception and family issues on one side and on the other support those who have been involved in sexual abuse, affairs and scandals down through the years, and I'm sure we haven't seen the tip of the iceberg yet. The Pope and the church he leads direct from Rome how we should lead our lives, blind to the misery and suffering they cause. Are we still in the dark ages? While I accept that the Pope believes in what he does, can he, and his church not see that it's time for a radical reform of thinking and the way it conducts its business, before it looses all of its followers.
David, Derry, Northern Ireland

The Pope is where he is because of an unquestioning belief that he is God's emissary on Earth. This is the same kind of belief - faith - that leads Jews to think that Palestine is the land promised to them by Jehovah and that leads Islamic fundamentalist bombers to think that their martyrdom gives them the right to sit at the right hand of Allah. Are they all correct? Is just one of them correct? If so, which one? Or are they all wrong? The artificial, man-made barrier of religious beliefs is higher and wider than the Berlin Wall ever was.
Bryan, Edinburgh, UK

Catholicism as a religion is becoming increasingly detached from what the world's society today needs
Tom, UK
Yes the Pope is a great man. However I am sure I am not the only one in saying this, but personally I find very little to relate the Catholic Church with the real, modern world. Whilst I respect anyone's religious beliefs, having watched the BBC Panorama documentary I find it incredible that the church which claims to be helping the world has publicly stated that condoms do not protect people from STD's, most notably the HIV virus. It seems to me that this is a totally irresponsible view seeing as all scientific evidence points to the contrary. Whilst I am not saying that every Catholic believes this, it is however the message being put out by the Vatican. This does truly suggest that Catholicism as a religion is becoming increasingly detached from what the world's society today needs.
Tom, UK

I'm not a Christian, but why don't they let the poor guy retire? He's clearly in bad health yet he's forced to perform all kinds of duties. Anyone got an answer? It would be really nice to see a new Pope who could move away from the harmful dogma on condoms and HIV which is killing millions. The Catholic Church should be ashamed of itself.
Jon Cooper, UK

Speaking as a non-Catholic: All those accusing the Roman Catholic faith of being out-of-date. Just hang on a minute and think. What if we really had no divorce, wouldn't we take marriage more seriously? What if we had no contraception? We might be forced to think about and take real responsibility for our actions. Yes science has advanced in this case, but that doesn't automatically mean science is always right!

I'm not saying I agree with everything the RC faith says (equal rights ordination), but some of these 'old-fashioned' values still have real relevance. Well done to the Pope for sticking up for them while other denominations seem all to willing to change in an attempt to please the masses.
K, UK

He has not ceased to fight the good fight
Ekanem, A M Calabar, Nigeria
I am not a Catholic but in so many ways the Pope has amazed me, especially in light of his health struggles in life. He has not ceased to fight the good fight of a man laden with responsibilities; not just not just his own but those of the whole world. This Pope has been a good ambassador of peace, defying barriers of race, language and even religion. He has inspired many by his altruistic character towards the people of the world and gone a long way to command the respect and admiration of many. I wish him a happy silver jubilee.
Ekanem, A M Calabar, Nigeria

Everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want as long as it doesn't harm others. Many of the Catholic Church's views are medieval and have no link with modern day life whatsoever. Furthermore the statements made from within the Vatican claiming that condoms do not prevent HIV infection are an insult to science and everyone who has seen what HIV can do. The Catholic Church in my view should refrain from making this type of statements as they have unforeseeable consequences in areas around the world where people still listen to what they have to say.
Frank, Belgium

The Catholic Church has not moved forward one iota under the papacy of John Paul II. Many developing countries find the battle against over-population and Aids harder because of the (in my view) misguided teachings propagated by this man. His legacy, in my view, is a 25 year delay in tackling some of the biggest problems faced by humanity.
John, England

In spite of being an agnostic I admire this Man, Pope John Paul II. There are not many people in the entire history of any church who could be compared to him. Best wished to you, Your Holiness!
Ilya Girin, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

One can only hope the next Pope will be as charismatic and focused as this one
Tony, College Station, USA
The Pope has been and still is a shining light in this world of ours. He is one of the holiest people on the face of the earth, and if anyone has had the privilege of meeting him, they should consider themselves blessed. One can only hope the next Pope will be as charismatic and focused as this one is.
Tony, College Station, USA

His legacy will be of the good of helping the fall of the Socialist Republics in Eastern Europe. The negative side is that he did nothing to reform the Church of Rome who's equally repressive false doctrines plight millions of human beings. Only a matter of time though.
johnK, UK

I was a teenager when John Paul II visited Ireland shortly after becoming Pope. I remember travelling cross-country all night with my friends for the "Youth Mass" in Co. Galway. During the Mass, the Pope declared to us: "young people of Ireland - I love you!" This resulted in sustained cheering and clapping that seemed to go on for hours rather than minutes. Most people of my age who were there, remember the overwhelming, almost hysterical, emotions we experienced at hearing those words. That day promised so much, a new Pope, a new era perhaps, but he turned out to be ultra-conservative, and for women especially offered little in the way of modern thinking. Celibacy until marriage, no contraception, no divorce, no equal rights to ordination. The Pope's 25 year reign has disappointed me.
Monica, Kildare, Ireland.

If ever was a man who was tough on issues such as contraception, sex abuse, and yet tender in proclaiming peace on earth, it is John Paul II. May God bless him as he celebrates 25 years as Vicar of Christ and Head of the Church on earth. Viva Il Papa! Long live the Pope!!
Pebbles Smith, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA

The Vatican is plagued by 19th Century ideals, deception and dishonesty
MT, Manchester
Whatever good work has been done by his holiness the Pope, whilst in office, I fear such work will be overshadowed by conservative policies that the Vatican seem to revel in. These show nothing more than a severe lack of understanding in modern day issues. As a result Catholicism is nothing more than a 'dying' faith, certainly within Western society where the church can no longer install the fear amongst its followers, that once held it together. In my opinion the Vatican is plagued by 19th Century ideals, deception and dishonesty. Frankly, as a baptised and confirmed Catholic, it shames me the head of my faith, should hold such Views as though they represented the teachings of Jesus Christ.
MT, Manchester

The world has been blessed by this very great man. I am lastingly grateful that he has been the Holy Father in my lifetime.
Timothy George, London

The Roman Catholic church has more money than sense, and that is a sad thing for a church. Pope John II is not the man his predecessor was. Pope John Paul I was a family man who wanted to overturn the long history of opposition to contraception and also to empty the Vatican's bulging coffers. Pope John II's legacy will be one of wasted opportunity. Even his rebuking of the disgraced catholic officials in America was done in a half-hearted way. Of course, I wish him well in his struggle against Parkinson's disease.
Gary, Faversham, Kent, UK

The Pope was a monumental force in the collapse of communism in Poland, and should be highly commended for this achievement as well as his inter-faith efforts. However, his views about reproductive rights do not apply to a modern world. These policies should take into account population growth and the realities of the AIDS scourge.
Inga Vikse, NYC




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