.- A new biography of Pope John Paul II, which attempts to document the Popeâs âintellectual declineâ has serious flaws in fact and reflects the authorâs uncompromising bias, says Damian Thompson in a review for Britainâs Daily Telegraph.
âThe Pope in Winterâ was written by John Cornwell, well-known journalist and author of âHitlerâs Popeâ about Pope Pius XII. A baptized Catholic, some critics say his recent writings indicate that he is anti-Catholic.
This is the first biography of John Paul II âto argue that he has done more harm than good,â says Thompson.
While the reviewer praises Cornwellâs 15-year-old work, âA Thief in the Night,â which dismantled the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Pope John Paul, this current work seems to be the result of sloppy journalism. It includes series of accusations and draws conclusions, which are not founded on historic fact.
For example, Cornwell tries to sully Pope John Paul's influence on the victory over Communism with a âdig at his ally Ronald Reagan,â says Thompson. Cornwell tells the reader that there were files on dead children whose murderers were "trained by Reagan's compatriots" in the office of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Thompson rightfully points out that Romero was killed before Reagan was elected to office.
In some cases, there is suspicion that facts are being manipulated, says Thompson. The reviewer cites George Weigel, the Popeâs most authoritative biographer, who confirms that one story Cornwell recounts is ârubbish.â
Cornwell attacks the Popeâs current health and recent battle with Parkinsonâs, and charges that Popeâs refusal to resign demonstrates his self-importance. Cornwell even alleges that the Pope is an egomaniac and suffers from depression, blank episodes and paranoia.
He also attacks the Popeâs writings and blames him for a series of problems in the Church, such as the decline in mass attendance. Thompson states that, given recent societal factors, these problems would have arisen anyway.
Thompson says many Catholics will dismiss these reports since the book is such âa hatchet job.â
âCornwell's record of John Paul II's pontificate is often grotesquely biased,â said Thompson. âFar from exposing âthe dark face of John Paul II's papacy, âThe Pope in Winterâ reveals the degree to which Cornwell's prejudices interfere with his judgment.
âThis new book is indeed a record of intellectual decline,â he concludes, âbut not quite in the way that its author intended.â