April 06, 2005

Ecce Petrus Pontifex Maximus

THERE IS LITTLE one can write about Pope John Paul II which better men have not said more eloquently. But it seems wrong for me to let the passing of such a great leader go unmentioned.

While the Pope’s work meant different things to different people, from my point of view, he had three accomplishments which really stand out from the rest. The first was his work for human freedom, not only in helping overthrow the Communist order in Russia and Eastern Europe, but for continuing that effort at every opportunity – for instance, when he visited Cuba, and Castro was forced to allow Christmas celebrations.

The second was an unwavering yet reasonable stand in support of the Church’s doctrine. This was not something which made his administration especially popular, and there were many in the American wing of the Church who particularly disliked the Church’s refusal to budge on certain issues. And even though I’m a convert, I suppose I’ve sometimes fallen into cafeteria-Catholic mode too. But even as I wished the Church would change its positions on this or that, I never lost respect for its views, for to me they were soundly backed and smartly-argued. That type of rigor, I think, has done much for the Church, and I think the Pope did much to keep things rigorous.

Finally, though, what impressed me about the Pope was, well, the Pope. Could we Catholics have asked for a better leader in these tumultuous times? I daresay we’d be hardpressed to find one. He was strong and capable and unbending, but at the same time he was compassionate and sincere and loving. And he was well loved, to the point where many good and loyal Catholics disobeyed parts of his last wishes – the part in which he told them not to weep.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 6, 2005 09:55 PM | TrackBack