John Paul II is considered a conservative on doctrine and issues relating to reproduction and the ordination of women. His collected writings on human sexuality, called the Theology of the Body, are an extended meditation on the nature of masculinity and femininity and the resulting implications for love and sex. These teachings represent a significant development of the Catholic teaching about sexuality. This development has origins in the Song of Songs, and the church's teaching on Sacraments.
He has been critical of Liberation Theology for over-emphasizing political liberation at the expense of spiritual liberation. In the 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) he reasserted the Church's high value on human life and by extension its condemnation of abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment, calling them all a part of the "culture of death" that is pervasive in the modern world. His stands on capital punishment, world debt forgiveness, and poverty issues are considered politically liberal, showing that 'conservative' and 'liberal' political labels are not easily assigned to religious leaders.
In 2000, he publicly endorsed the Jubilee 2000 campaign on African debt relief fronted by Irish rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono. Indeed, the nature of the relationship between the pope and Bono was revealed when someone working at the Dublin recording studio for Bono's band U2 stated that a recording session was interrupted on at least one occasion by a phone call from the Pope, who wanted to talk to Bono about the campaign.
In 2003, John Paul II also became a prominent critic of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. He sent his Peace Minister, Pío Cardinal Laghi, to talk with US President George W. Bush to express opposition to the war. John Paul II says that it is up to the United Nations to solve the international conflict through diplomacy and that a unilateral aggression is a crime against peace and a violation of international law.
In European Union negotiations for a new constitution in 2003 and 2004, the Vatican's representatives failed to secure any mention of Europe's "Christian Heritage", one of the Pope's cherished goals.
The Pope has also been a leading critic of same-sex marriage. In his latest book, "Memory and Identity", John Paul II describes same-sex marriage as part of "a new ideology of evil" that is insidiously menacing society. In a chapter dealing with the role of lawmakers, the pope refers to the "pressures" on the European Parliament to permit same-sex marriage. Reuters quotes the pope as writing, "It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man."
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