The dark side of the Pope

The Pope moved Cristina Odone to tears (22 January). Leaving a papal Angelus at Castel Gondolfo last September, I was moved to deep concern at the mass adulation in that courtyard and to recall the results from similar displays, for example, outside the Palazzo Venezia in the thirties. Of course the Pope is the towering charismatic world leader described, but great men can have great faults.

Odone painted only the bright side of Pope John Paul II's 20 years. To many Catholics and other Christians, there is a dark side. It ranges from the petty but irritating papal knighthood to Rupert Murdoch to an acceleration of power centralisation into the Vatican, the packing of local hierarchies with "trusties" and, in short, the substantial negation of the whole reforming mode of the Second Vatican Council, which held out hope not just for Catholics but for Christian unity, as Pope John intended and Pope Paul continued.

Arthur Wells
Egham, Surrey

Cristina Odone admires the permanence of John Paul II and derides politicians who "perform ridiculous ideological twists and turns in pursuit of a vote". Quite. All politicians, like popes, should be given tenure for life. A small price to pay for purity of dogma. And, of course, they can be called to account after death.

Bob Ballard
Bristol