Religion: John Paul's Feisty Flock

U.S. Catholics are going their own way

Next week in Miami, Pope John Paul II begins a ten-day visit to the U.S., the 36th major journey by this most peripatetic of Roman Catholic Pontiffs. He has worshiped with exotically clad Papuans and has preached to hundreds of thousands in Marxist Managua. But though he has been to the U.S. three times / previously -- as Pope in 1979 and twice before that as Archbishop of Cracow in Poland -- he has not encountered anything anywhere quite so complex and independent as today's American Catholic.

A few weeks ago, even as the daunting logistics for his tour were being...