Reuters wrote:Pulitzer-winning playwright criticizes pope
Sat Apr 9, 2005 02:52 AM ET
By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Award-winning writer John Patrick Shanley, who won a Pulitzer Prize this week for his play about a priest suspected of sexual abuse, says some policies on birth control and women's rights that were championed by Pope John Paul are criminal.
"He was extremely conservative in his papacy and at times very irresponsible," Shanley told Reuters in an interview on Thursday night. "To discourage the use of condom use in Africa is criminal."
Shanley, who won his Pulitzer for "Doubt," a play about the possible sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy by a priest, listed what he saw as the failures of the late pope.
He criticized the pontiff for reversing previous efforts to loosen church dogma, for ensuring female clergy members would never achieve equality and for appointing a succession of conservative cardinals.
He cited the elevation to Rome of Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Boston archbishop forced to resign for protecting sexually abusive priests, as an example of how the Catholic Church has failed to properly deal with its own clergymen.
"I have been very surprised there has not been a more enthusiastic prosecution within the church for committing the very serious crime of sexually abusing a child," he said. "From what moral place do they speak to their flock?"
Shanley, 54, grew up in the New York's borough of The Bronx, where he attended, and was thrown out of, several Catholic schools similar to the one depicted in "Doubt," which is set in 1964.
It was a world he said he had forgotten until recent attention on the Middle East reminded him of the subservient role of the nuns in his old school.
"I realized those nuns were women wearing burkas, that the Roman Catholic religion was an import from the Middle East culture that has been transplanted and taken roots in my life," he said.
While his new play is centred on a nun's struggle to resolve her intuition that a priest is molesting a schoolboy, Shanley said his drama both admires people with strong convictions and condemns those that view people who have doubts as weak.
"Knowing that you don't know is a powerful and passionate exercise, it is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of wisdom," he said.
"You can never know with utter certainty the guilt or innocence of anything," Shanley said. "There are times when you must act, but you should do it with a twinge."