The Legacy of Pope John Paul II

This article is more than 16 years old.
photoPope John Paul II has been given his last rites as his health condition is reportedly deteriorating due to an infection that is causing high fever and a rapid drop in his blood pressure. The 84-year-old spiritual leader of one-billion Catholics has been in frail health for the past several weeks and suffers from Parkinson's disease and arthritis.

John Paul II was the first non-Italian in almost 500 years, when he was elected Pope in 1968, and the first Pole ever to sit on Saint Peter's throne. He is the first Pope to visit a mosque and a synagogue and is credited with a key role in the downfall of the Soviet Union. He speaks eight languages and charmed the world with his boundless energy.

But John Paul II has not been without his critics. In 1981, he survived an assassination attempt. He's found himself increasingly at odds with American Catholics on the role of women in the church, birth control, gays, and his handling of the priest sex abuse scandal.

Hear about the legacy of John Paul II and future of the Roman Catholic Church.


Sophie Arie, Rome correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor

Eric Hanson, Professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University

Stephen Pope, Associate Professor of Theology at Boston College

Sidney Callahan, psychologist writing on moral theology and ethics and former columnist in Commonweal Magazine.

This program aired on March 31, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.