Meet the Press — Day 7

Friday, Sept. 1, 1978

Pope Asks Press to Focus on Substance of the Church (AP & UPI)

The pope, who once wanted to be a journalist himself, had many gracious things to say when he addressed members of the international press at the Vatican today, including this:

We know, in a word, the ideal goal towards which each of you, despite difficulties and illusions, direct your own energy. You wish to arrive through “communication” at a true and satisfying “communion.” As you well know, this is the goal towards  which the heart of the Vicar of him who taught us to call God the unique and loving Father of every human being, aspires.

The pope’s other business for the day included proclaiming Our Lady of the Good Journey the patroness of the city of Itabirito, Brazil and elevating the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Piacenza, Italy to the status of Minor Basilica. The pope also wrote to his papal legate at Ecuador’s Marian Congress, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Sending the German cardinal to represent him in Latin America, where liberation theology has been influential, was an interesting choice.

Pope Impresses U.S. Catholics (Los Angeles Times)

For Catholics in America, Pope John Paul I begins his pontificate with their high hopes and expectations, but with a long agenda of problems they would like to see him unravel:
“He has to show the poor of the world that the church is at their service.”
“He must establish the credibility of leadership.”
“He will have to hold the right and left together.”
“I hope he would follow on the interests of Pope Paul in the development of peoples in the Third world.”

“I guess it’s a funny thing for a theologian to say but I like his smile,” said the Rev. Walter Burghardt, editor of the scholarly journal, “Theological Studies.”

But at the same time, [Rev. Avery Dulles of Catholic University] warned, “We shouldn’t over-do the idea of the simple pastor. He is a doctor in theology and has taught theology” and his writings reflect “learning, wit and imagination… He’ll need all of that.”

[The new pope has reportedly never traveled outside of Italy.] “If we thought Pope Paul traveled a lot, I think Pope John Paul will travel a lot more,” [Rev. Ronald Saucci, communications director for the Maryknoll Missionaries] predicted.

Can New Pope Bridge Gap With “Fallen Away” Catholics? (Boston Globe)

Now, the Rome watchers suggest that we wait and see. Wait and see if this pope with such an infectious smile and kindly manner is a man of conservatism or a man of change — or a man who walks a line, as one suggested, right down “the extreme center.”

The “Rome watchers” are right; the most infallible way to determine what a pope will do is to wait for him to actually do it. In her column, Ms. Goodman argues that conservatism need not be defined as anti-change. Indeed, the Catholic Church is conservative, seeking to conserve what we have received from Christ, but we believe that these gifts are very much meant to transform us and the world.

Make Celibacy Optional, Pope Urged by Rice (Pittsburgh-Post Gazette)

I doubt that Pope John Paul reads American newspapers all that much. If Msgr. Rice had wanted to offer his suggestions to the pope he should have just written a letter to:

His Holiness Pope John Paul I
Apostolic Palace
Vatican City

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