In the wake of Pope John Paul II's trip to the United States, the Roman Catholic press in this country is playing down the pope's criticism of the U.S. church and stressing instead his broader social and political message.

Editorial reactions in Catholic diocesan newspapers have, so far, paid less attention to John Paul's stern warnings against dissent by American Catholics than to his calls for action on behalf of peace, the poor and the oppressed. Some papers also made it clear they do not welcome the intense news media spotlight now on the church.

One leading church paper, The Chicago Catholic, had mixed feelings about the effectiveness of John Paul's 10-day tour of nine cities. "He probably didn't do as well as he wished," its editorial said. On the one hand, according to the paper, John Paul was able to make a "personal impact" on the nation through the extensive media coverage.

But it added, "In terms of overall, long-range Catholic unity, the jury may be out quite a while."

On the whole, however, Catholic newspapers -- including the rest of the Chicago paper's editorial -- had nothing but praise for the pope's visit. Even in the liberal archdiocese of Seattle, its publication, The Progress, said, "The gift he brings -- the message he shares -- is custom-made for the nation that 'has everything.' "