It soon became clear, however, that despite his personal warmth and charisma, when it came to Church dogma [John Paul II] was stern and intractably conservative—reviving the doctrine of papal infallibility, and censuring Church officials he perceived to be excessively liberal.

“Saint John Paul,” in the Atlantic.

When general interest magazines write about Christianity, they almost never get their facts right. For instance, John Paul made no changes whatsoever to the doctrine of papal infallibility. It couldn’t be “revived” because it hadn’t declined: it was the same when he assumed the papacy and when he died, and it’s the same now. Presumably all that’s meant here is that he didn’t try to have the doctrine abolished (as if that were even possible, as if Catholic magisterial doctrine can simply be repealed like American laws.)

But that’s the way these things always go. I’m more interested in the little rhetorical flourishes, e.g.: despite his charisma, he was theologically conservative. As though there is a natural connection between being personally charming and being theologically liberal, and anyone who is the first but not the second is committing some offense against the natural order of things… .