©04 The Media Desk
[NOTE: As it is obvious the man discussed below is reaching the end of his days,
the Desk takes an almost fond look at him and his legacy.
thank you for your indulgence ]
Stonecutter. Actor. Member of the Polish Underground. Priest.
He was a colorful character and no mistake.
However he will be most remembered for an office he assumed late in life.
During World War Two Karol strove against the Nazi's who had devastated both his hometown and his family. He assisted Jews who were fleeing the Reich and pursued his religious studies in secret. And at one point, Nazi soldiers badly beat him and left him along a road for dead. But God wasn't done with Karol yet.
An interest in Metaphysics led him to the works of St. John of the Cross. Later he developed a fascination with the visions and prophecies from Lourdes, France and Fatima, Portugal. Still later he picked up the banner against several major issues that he saw as disastrous to the church as the Nazi occupation had been to his homeland. Even in failing health and at times unable to speak, he was a strident voice against sin and moral laxity in the religious community. And even though many felt the church had no business in politics, he was involved in that arena as well which brought him some notoriety as well as admiration. To his detractors and his fans, he was a great man.
Of course the Desk is writing about Pope John Paul the Second. And doing so with open admiration even though it is not now nor has it ever been a Catholic. (And it has never played one on TV either.)
Very few popes achieve the kind of International Stature JP2 had. John the Twenty Third comes to mind, but even he didn't have the almost Rock Star following among Catholics and Non-Catholics alike.
He was quoted in sermons in churches of many different faiths and his travels were chronicled by Al Jazeera, the Arab/Islamists news outlet. His books and tapes became best sellers. Tickets to events where he would appear only on the stadium's scoreboard via video feed sold faster than the home team's playoff tickets.
He mobilized the church itself to fight off age and irrelevancy in the New World Order. Early in his reign it appeared that the Roman Catholic Church was tottering off to the Old Faith's Home and its place as 'The Church' was in jeopardy. Now, even after the homosexual priest scandal and dissention from several lay organizations there is no question as to the supremacy of the Vatican in the Roman Catholic world.
Presidents and Prime Ministers made visits to Rome to see the Holy Father to cement their place as a true world leader even as Emperors did a millennia before whether or not they agreed with him, or he with them, on almost anything.
It is also interesting to note where the Pope refused to insert himself into the argument. The Desk could not find where the Pope absolutely condemned the practice of Female Circumcision or the trade in the so-called Blood Diamonds. Or the ongoing practice of human slavery in Africa and parts of Asia and Eastern Europe. Yet he had been extremely vocal about abortion and New Age nonsense in the West.
He also wrote homilies on the plight of the poor and the evils of broken families and stood against political corruption even when it became uncomfortable for a religious leader to do so. His reaching out to the youth of the church and the world at large was met with enthusiasm and cheers worldwide and the papal rallies for young people were usually standing room only.
But some of his most strident words were for his own people even as he opened his arms to those that had been his people at one time. He had come out against the 'Holy Family' branch (an almost cult within the church) of extreme orthodoxy. There is also the issue he was dead set against of married or female priests and lay ministers. Then on the other side he extended his hand to various denominations that had broken away from the main church ages ago including the Eastern Churches, Armenian and Greek Orthodox. He also led a campaign to bring those that had been in the church back casting himself as the shepherd welcoming back wandering sheep appearing in TV ads smiling and nodding with forgiveness and acceptance.
And some of his efforts met with decidedly mixed results. As when he tried to make peace between the Vatican and Israel. The final outcome of which has yet to be seen.
In nearly twenty six years on the throne, John Paul the Second forever changed his church. And the world.
His mark will never be forgotten.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4: 16 - 18