Sunday, April 03, 2005

Why Pope John Paul Failed

Pope John Paul II went further than any Roman Catholic pope in history to bring peace and tolerance among people of various faiths, especially between Catholics and Muslims and Jews. He was the first pope ever to enter a Muslim mosque, in May 2001, when he visited the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, site of the tomb of John the Baptist.
During a visit to Israel, in 2000, he prayed at the Western Wall, considered by some to be the holiest of sites in Judaism. His prayer went as follows: God of our fathers ... we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer and asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.
In the custom of Jews visiting the Western Wall, he folded the printed prayer and tucked it into a niche in the rocks.
He was a tireless campaigner for tolerance among all peoples and peace in places where religious and cultural differences had turned to war.
John Paul’s method of working toward peace, understanding and tolerance followed what his predecessors had done. He told people to be peaceful and to love. One of his predecessors, Pope John XXIII, did more to actually bring people of differing faiths together, through his ecumenical councils.
As with all calls for peace, however, the requests by the Pontiffs went unanswered. But why?
We do not change our behaviour by being told. Peace, tolerance and understanding are learned at the knees of our fathers and mothers, before we are even old enough to know there are others who are different from ourselves.
As young children, we watch, we listen, we learn to interpret what we absorb. The ways of our parents become our own ways years later.
This can be changed a great deal by having peace, tolerance and understanding taught actively in schools. In many schools, it is taught as an adjunct to events that happen in and around the school. In most schools, it is not an integral part of the curriculum.
If these values are so important to us, why do we not teach them as part of our curriculum? The reason is that it hasn’t been done that way before. These values have been taught in the home and in religious places, not in schools. With fewer adults going to worship, religion being banned in schools in North America and both parents in many families required to work every day to support themselves, the most important values in our cultures are being neglected. Everyone assumes that values are being actively taught somewhere, but they are being missed for many children.
These children grow up to want go to war (as in their video games), to become inmates in prisons and mental institutions and to be patients for the burgeoning professions of psychiatry, psychology and counselling. A review of the literature respecting these situations gives ample evidence of this truth.
To make changes that will accommodate modern conditions of life, there must be a plan of action, a methodology to make things happen, unlike anything that has happened in the past. There is one, only one viable one, on the table.
It may be found in ‘Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems.’ Read about it at
We can’t leave it to others to do what is right. That is what Pope John Paul did and what everyone else has done for centuries. It hasn’t worked. We need a simple plan that will not bankrupt us and that may be implemented without much disruption.
Read about TIA and you will understand what that plan is.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems
Coming June 2005

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