Saturday, April 02, 2005


Rest in Peace, Pope John Paul II

I will not discuss questions of theology or dogma in this post. John Paul II was a conservative Polish Cardinal, and that religious conservatism rubbed some Americans the wrong way.

But in terms of the world at large, this was probably the most influential and important Pope of modern times. Long ago, kings and emperors answered to Popes; the Vatican maintained armies and controlled the fate of nations. Those days have long since faded into history.

This Pope never commanded an army, never crowned an emperor, never ordered kings and princes to do his bidding.

And yet it was with this Pope that the Reagan White House shared intelligence, revealing the Soviet troops poised to invade Poland and crush the freedom movement led by Solidarity. It was this Pope who announced his intention to go to Poland, and it was of this Pope that the communist tyrant Jaruzelski reported to the Kremlin, "We can not stop him." Armed with his faith and his moral courage, it was this Pope who journeyed to Poland, in open support of freedom, in the face of the threat of Soviet invasion. And in the end it was to this Pope that Jaruzelski admitted, "We have lost."

John Paul II was a champion of freedom, a fearless opponent of oppression, and a powerful defender of the faith and leader of the faithful. He sought rapproachment with groups long alienated from the Vatican, searched for common ground among adversaries, and always, with his simple faith to guide and sustain him, urged all men to work for peace and justice.

His shoes will not easily be filled. They are big shoes.

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