I am not catholic, never have been and doubtless ever will be. Yet over the last few years I have observed and looked into the life of Pope John Paul II. His life compelled me.
Regrettably, in the distant past I have occasionally looked down upon Catholics as a group. What a fool I was. In John Paul II, we had such a different and heroic man – Ronald Reagan’s “right hand man” in the fight against communism. The more I read about Reagan, the more I saw John Paul’s name come up again and again on the side of what’s right.
As a young man in Poland during W.W.II, John Paul showed us great personal courage – risking his life over and over again for men and women he barely new. Most were not even of his own faith – most were Jews and Poles of different religious persuasions.
As a middle-aged Pope, he showed us how to reach out to peoples we did not like or agree with – Muslims and militant Jews, to name a few.
I did not agree with all of his doctrine. I did not agree with all of his theology. I did not agree with his views on priestly celibacy.
He opposed both Gulf wars. I did not agree with all of President Bush’s actions in Iraq over the last two years, but I disagreed even more with the Pope’s antipathy to it.
But remember that John Paul was never up for reelection, so he was not bound to pleasing a particular constituency. He was free to speak his mind, and he has repeatedly done so. This might mean that history may take a dim view of his actions. He was never swayed by this. Let history speak, but let the Lord be judge.
Over the course of his lifetime he has showed us how to live. He was not always correct in his views – possibly – but he was energized, active and committed to the cause as he saw the light.
What I cannot disagree with in any, was his personal courage throughout his lifetime in the name of Jesus Christ for the less fortunate and oppressed peoples of the world. His whole life examples this to us.
And in his final days, he has showed us how to die. He was in great pain and was severely constricted. A century ago a man in his condition would be long dead.
The world has lost a great man.
Was he my Pope? No, but I would not be ashamed if I found out that this was so.
We need to thank God for this man and strive to live up to the standard set before us.
We must look beyond the religion to see the man; and in the end we must look beyond the man to see the Lord.
by Guy Adams