Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope JPII 1920-2005

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) died today in the Vatican. He was 84. (Playlist tribute)

JPII has had an enormous impact on Catholicism and the world. But he is not without his critics. He has been poet, mystic, philosopher, pastoral priest, evangelist and the first truly global Pope. Biographer George Weigel called him "not simply the man of the century but the prophet of the new millennium".

Few popes have been so prolific or productive. Only two in 2000 years have reigned longer than his 26 years, five months and 16 days. He's cannonized more saints (482) then any prior Pope. He's made 104 overseas missions, and covered a reported 1,247,613 kilometres in visiting 129 countries, the vast majority of which no pope had visited before. His legacy will be almost impossible to erode, let alone erase.

But there's always a flipside to legacies like this, and he could very well be called the Pope who won the world but lost the West, for in America and Europe the church has become increasingly irrelevant. The staunch insistence on traditionalism and the centralization of power has turned many away (myself included) from the church. It often has rendered the church's teaching irrelevant, as in the widespread disregard for the ban on contraception. In some parts of Africa and South America nuns, far from a bishop's supervision, hand out condoms to slow the spread of AIDS and poverty.

He's made overtures to other religions, namely Judaism. He's the first pope to visit a synagogue (1986) and in 2000, he visited Israel and prayed at the Western Wall. Having been born just 12 miles from Auschwitz, he has deeper empathy for the Jewish faith then any Pope has since Peter, which doesn't say a whole lot.

Since he's chosen all of the 231 cardinals that will select his successor, his intended momentum will be carried forward.

1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Pope John Paul II RIP
"Theme For The Pope" - Rickie Lee Jones
"Poland" - Peter Breiner And His Symphonic Pop Orchestra
"Pope" - Prince
"For John Paul" - Greg Steele
"Catholic Boy" - Jim Carroll
"Vatican" - Doug Pitts
"Courage Of A Younger Pope" - Swingin' Utters
"A Call From The Vatican" - ***
"The Pope: Live At The Vatican" - Cheech and Chong