Last week, before Pope John Paul II came to Washington, the following D.C. clerics were asked what they would discuss if they had five minutes with the pope. This week, they were polled for comments on his visit. mvisit.
The Rev. Vienna Cobb Anderson, assistant rector of St. Alban's (Episcopal) Church, Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues NW: "I wish he had come to listen as well as speak. It might have been more helpful for him and the church as a whole. I especially wish he would listen to women. . . . His statement, when he returned to Rome, that he saw Americans as sons just reinforces my concerns that he's living in a male world and not paying attention to (women) in the church and the world. That's a perpetuation of a male myth. That distresses me that he continues to live in that ideal. I'm glad he came. He spoke as an authority figure. He wasn't wishy-washy at all.It was rather exciting watching Catholic Americans. We witnessed their joy."
The Rev. Elmer Powell, associate pastor of St. Teresa's (Catholic) Church, 1430 Minnesota Ave. SE: I am sorry that he didn't condemn racism. In his speech before the United Nations, I'm sorry he didn't expressly condemn apartheid. The church is a part of American society and culture, and indeed there is racism in the church. It's impossible to be a genuine Christian if one is a racist. That's a particular message I wish he would have brought. Overall, I think he came as a prophet of hope. The world needs a prophet of hope at a time like this, especially the United States. . . . People, whether they were Catholic or not, looked at him in his light."
The Rev. John F. Steinbruck, pastor, Luther Place Memorial (Lutheran) Church, 1226 Vermont Ave. NW: "I was filled with hope. To me he offers the possibility of cohesive leadership of global Christianity in the face of the challenge of destructive, evil-minded, anti-human ideologies that oppress, persecute and deny to human beings the possibility of life in an environment of freedom. Those kind of questions like, birth control, human sexuality we will work out and resolve in time. But we -- the whole human community -- will do it in a free process. The church sometimes serves the purpose of being a brake to some extent until we really have collective thoughts and are ready to (move) in a new direction."
The Rev. Caesar Donanzan, pastor of Holy Rosary (Catholic Church), 595 Third Street NW: "Finally we have someone with authority who indicates where the happiness and the authority of the believer lies. He spoke out very clearly and forcefully when he spoke to the nuns concerning the vocation of the priestly and religious life. He enunciated very clearly what his mind is and he gave them solid reason. I don't think we can anticipate overnight change. The overall effect (of the visit) will be the strengthening of our faith."
The Rev. Thomas Kelly, pastor of Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 340-1 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE:"I didn't think there were any surprises there. I think he addressed the issues and let us know he's very much the leader. He put his position straight forward. I think it was a good shot in the arm for the American Catholic Church at this time."
The Rev. Mamie A. Williams, pastor of the Calvary United Methodist Church, 1459 Columbia Rd. NW: "It remains to be seen what the impact of his visit is going to be.Especially since what he presented to us is a church 2,000 years behind the times. The gospel is always on time. A lot of what he shared is not quite on target as far as I can understand the gospel. He comes down absolutely on abortion. I come down on the choice of parenting, which is not necessarily abortion or non-abortion. It's whether or not a person has accepted the responsibility of parenting. I see many children who have been born, but never have they been parented."
The Rev. Henry C. Gregory III, the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 Ninth Street NW: "At the White House the statement he made -- his concern for the justice and consideration for the poor -- was very much on target. At the United Nations, there were several disarmament statements that were very timely and appropriate. My deep hope is the statements he made concerning some things here that have been a part of the Catholic Church many years will not cloud the unity needed for people to work together."