Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remembering John Paul II

We’ve had a few people wonder why there was no mention of the anniversary of John Paul II’s death. It’s not that I’m just passing over the event. I’ve actually been trying to come up with something appropriate to the occasion.

I noticed that Boniface over at Unam Sanctam had a couple of very worthwhile articles about it. The Lumen Gentleman also had some good comments (seen here on FishEaters). In retrospect, I probably lie somewhere between the two. I have a great deal of affection for John Paul II. I recall my years growing up in a Protestant-dominated area, thinking that we were the only Catholics in the world except for the Pope. He was our representative to the rest of humanity, and that was a big deal.

As I got older (much older), I learned about all the events that created such scandal when they occurred. This will not be a dead horse beating. Everybody knows the stuff I’m talking about, and Boniface and LG give a better overview than I ever could. From a personal perspective, I’ve always focused on what might be the supreme irony of these events. In seeking to create ecumenical bonds with all these non-Christian groups, he inflicted severe wounds to any outreach to Protestants, who bring this stuff up way more than Catholics.

But I don’t want to digress. The point is that, while you can always find ways to criticize somebody like the Pope, you can’t imagine what the pressures were that he was under. You never walked a mile in the Shoes of the Fisherman. He admitted in Memory and Identity that he probably could have done a lot better in administering the Church. As a guy with bad scruples problems, I can’t fathom what I’d be feeling if I had to deal with the accountability for a billion souls. How to go about dealing with the tares amongst the wheat can’t be an easy job, especially when the field is as big as it is today, and the tares are dug in deeper than any other time in Church history.

Here’s what I am certain of. The previous Holy Father was a braver, smarter, and holier person than me.

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