Wow. We sure went from "the fortnight of Terri Schiavo" to "the fortnight of the Pope" very quickly. It seemed that way to me at least, but it was very busy week at work and the time flew by. Goodbye Terri, goodbye Pope.
My own feelings about John Paul II are complicated. I cannot deny his integrity; I have the strong sense that he acted out of a genuine sense of belief. I revere that part of him. I also admire his diplomatic skills and instincts. The Stalin quote "How many divisions does the Pope command?" was mentioned several times this week. John Paul was a catalyst in a world ripe for change. Yet, his was a conservative and imperial Papacy, with a very pronounced "do as I say or leave" attitude. We even saw this in the Pope's final days -- his pronouncements concerning the "culture of life" and the Schiavo case were almost dictatorial in tone, even when those statements flew in the face of four hundred years of Church doctrine.
I found concerns over the embalming of John Paul's body and use of the title "John Paul The Great" both fascinating and irritating. The rush to heap praise and criticism on the Pope seemed to me to get it all wrong. Popes live in a world that should be as much about God's time as that of Man. It seems far too soon to judge if this Pope is worthy of the title "The Great" and what fruit his actions will bear. It does not seem Christ-like to venerate this man with a Cult of Personality.
At the same time, I now hear all the Sunday morning pundits talking about the election of the new Pope, as if it was the choice of Vice President at a Republican national convention. That depresses me. I like to feel that, when it works right, the convocation of the leaders of the Church is something greater than a petty policital process. The choice of John Paul II was far from an obvious one. I want to think that some greater sense of Spirit, something more than "favor paid for favor owed" goes through the minds of the Cardinals when they meet.
Goodbye John Paul II. I hope that whoever succeeds you is truly worth to wear the Shoes of the Fisherman.
on 2005-04-10 at 12:07 p.m.
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