May 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
John Paul II was the only pope I knew for the majority of my life. And I must admit, he is the primary reason that I finally got confirmed in the Catholic Church. There are probably thousands more who converted to the Catholic Church because of the holy example set by this great pope. From what I understand, he was one of the first modern popes to be totally accessible, down-to-earth, and humble about his role as the Servant of the Servants of God. He refused to be carried upon the papal throne as his predecessors were, like some haughty king looking down upon his minions. He laughed and smiled, showed true Christian character by welcoming people of all different religious backgrounds to engage in conversation, actually listening to them and respecting their differences. He was truly a ‘people’s pope’, and it is for this reason that even many Protestants, atheists and people of other religions hold him up as an example of Christlike action. I know many non-Catholics who have a deep respect for John Paul; they simply know that he was a holy man, that he lived his life in service to Christ and his fellow man. That’s why it was no surprise to me that the five-year waiting period was waived to immediately begin his cause. To do anything less would be an insult to billions of faithful who, sinners though we are, could so easily recognize Christ in him.
But his welcoming attitude and ecumenical demeanor did not cause him to back down from sound Catholic doctrine. He managed to remain fully Catholic while still drawing people of all faiths closer and showing them the best of the Catholic Church. He did what he could concerning the child abuse scandals, though he certainly was not some emperor with absolute power, as many critics expected him to be, nor is any pope. He, like a good CEO, relied on his subordinates, the Bishops, to deal with cases within their own dioceses. Perhaps there are times when he should have stepped in and dealt directly with a particular bishop. But let us remember that, according to a study by the top insurance companies for many protestant denominations, as reported by Fox news, protestant churches face over three hundred allegations of child abuse every year- much more than the Catholic Church. Their lack of hierarchy probably makes this seem less important than the allegations faced by the Catholic Church, but a fact is a fact. People love to bash the Catholic Church for her vast financial resources and political power- mostly, I would assume, out of jealousy. I know many a protestant mega-church pastor who would love to have the pope’s power!
But through it all, even his detractors must admit that their was something very different about Pope John Paul II, and I’m sure a second, third, fourth miracle will soon be worked through his intercession, and soon we can all happily call this great saint a Saint.
April 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
His eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, recently addressed concerns that the fast-track to sainthood the Venerable Pope John Paul II has been placed on, is merely a result of his popularity. Cardinal Amato reaffirmed the fact that John Paul’s cause is based on the sanctity of his life, not merely his popularity, long reign or political achievements. Though the voice of the people carries much weight, the Congregation and the Church will never simply canonize a saint due to popularity.
“In the course of a beatification cause, there is the vox populi,” he said, which must be “accompanied by the vox dei (voice of God) — the miracles — and the vox ecclesiae (voice of the church),” which is the official judgment issued after interviewing eyewitnesses and consulting with historians, physicians, theologians and church leaders to verify the candidate’s holiness.
Cardinal Amato said, “the pressure of the public and of the media did not disturb the process, but helped it” because it was a further sign of Pope John Paul’s widespread reputation for holiness, which is something the church requires proof of before it moves to beatify someone.
February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
One of the primary reasons I chose to swim the Tiber was that I really liked Pope John Paul II, who seemed to myself and many other people, to just be a model of Christian thought and behavior. He was the first pope in a long time to set aside doctrinal debates and other religious and political differences, and truly embrace all of humanity as being one large family, with a few old, grouchy uncles, sure, but all still a part of a whole and all capable of coming to know and love Christ and his Church. John Paul II was a man of action, a sportsman and lover of art and theater, who didn’t cease to act after his papal election. He traveled places other popes had overlooked, he engaged in dialogue with people his predecessors had refused to speak to. He was the example of a Christian that all Christians could and should imitate.The fact that so many people of different cultures, faiths and morals looked at him as a good, holy man, proclaims his sanctity for all the world to see. I, a young person at the time, was particularly drawn by his involvement with and love for youth; he seemed like a really cool grandfather that you wanted to learn from and look up to as a role model.
Having been elected just two years before my birth, Pope John Paul II was the only pope I ever knew, and he spent his life being an inspiration to myself and others. God bless our current Pontiff and his intentions, but it must be said that it could take a very long time for a pope to come close to filling the great John Paul’s shoes. Few have had the opportunity; John Paul II was the second longest reigning Pope in Christian history. He had plenty of time to influence the hearts and minds of people across the spectrum, from the struggling workers of a Gdansk shipyard yearning to reclaim independence from an oppressive, atheist society, to the halls of the White House where world power players decide the future, but often forget those they serve. John Paul the Great was indeed a saint on this earth, a light shining Christ’s love to the whole world. How appropriate that he shall be beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday- he certainly showed Christ’s divine mercy throughout his life.