Was John Paul II a conservative pope?

“This may be what you think: John Paul II was the conservative Pope. His pontificate was marked by a resurgent Roman Catholic traditionalism, setting the Church against liberalizing forces of all kinds. John Paul II is remembered above all for shoring up structures of the past.”

This is wrong. John Paul II boldly presided over the maturing of political and theological revolutions in Catholicism. Perhaps despite himself, he was a Pope of change, accomplishing two radical shifts — one in the Church’s attitude toward war and the other in its relationship to the Jewish people. Taken together, those represent the most significant change in Church history, and they lay the groundwork for future changes that could well go beyond what this Pope foresaw or even wanted. In each case, John Paul II brought to completion a movement that was begun by his predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI, the Popes of the Second Vatican Council.”[46]

James Carroll sees Pope John Paul II’s continuing revolution as a “maturing” of Catholic thought. Pope Saint Pius X would have seen it for what it was: Modernism in action. Likewise, Pope Pius XII would have recognized John Paul II as one of the progressivist theologians he warned against in Humani Generis “who reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation.”[47]

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