John Paul II accomplished great things as pope, but the Vatican is making a mistake in canonizing him as a saint this weekend, writes Maureen Dowd in the New York Times. The reason is simple and obvious: He "presided over the Catholic Church during nearly three decades of a gruesome pedophilia scandal and grotesque cover-up." So, yes, give the man credit for helping bring about the downfall of Communism and for admonishing the US about its "frenzy of consumerism." But the priests' sex scandal should be a deal-breaker.
"Sometimes leaders can be remarkable in certain ways and then make a mistake so spectacular, it overshadows other historical achievements," writes Dowd. Think Lyndon Johnson, whose efforts on civil rights are diminished by the Vietnam War. The same applies to John Paul II. It's great that he tried to make communist and capitalist societies repent, "but his tragedy is that he never corrected the failings of his own society, over which he ruled absolutely," she writes. "He ain't no saint." Click for her full column.