Sunday, April 3, 2005

On Pope John Paul II

Last week, a quiet suburban girl, who without her knowledge or consent, had become a flash point for opposing sides in an epic battle of right-to-life vs. right-to-die, passed from this life. Two days later, a very public figure for whom the moral imperative was always crystal clear—that human life is sacred and must be valued, maintained, and encouraged at any cost—also ended his earthly sojourn. It was an interesting twist of history that these two lives ended in such quick succession.

Far along on the journey down his own final road, Pope John Paul II pronounced his condemnation of the progress of the Shiavo case. Sick, failing, too weak to breathe on his own or consume enough nourishment to keep himself alive, did he take to his bed and attend to the business of his own death? No. He knew that, until he drew his last breath, he was charged with interpreting to his followers, and to the world, what he believed to be the mandate of his God. Not with saying what was politically expedient. Not with framing an opinion that would be most acceptable to the increasingly strident progressives of his flock, or the world at large. Among all the accusing, sanctimonious, condescending, screaming, angry, anguished voices swirling around Terri Shiavo’s drama, John Paul’s was the one with the purest moral intent. Agree or disagree with any stance he took. But it was always consistent, never hypocritical, never formed with the intent to curry favor with any person or faction. Always based on what he held to be the value the Lord Himself put on human life, or the code that he believed God had set forth for human beings to follow.

How many prominent figures in the world today, political or spiritual, could approach his purity of motive and singleness of purpose? How many twentieth century leaders have shown the humble devotion to their followers, the overriding concern for all people, the pure love for humanity that drew the poor and the powerful to sit at his feet? A truly holy man died yesterday. The world was greatly blessed by his life, and is severely diminished by his death.


  1. What an articulate, graceful tribute.

  2. Lisa,

    This is such a beautiful piece. We lost a very important man.


  3. Truly a man of God filled with the Holy Spirit.

  4. I do not know much about the Pope, but I was impressed by the way he approached his death, on his terms, and by the peaceful vigil kept by his followers. It seems even until the end he was setting an example. I hope I can go as gracefully...
    Beautifully written as always...

  5. John Paul a consistant commitmant to the "culture of life." He didn't focus just on abortion or end of life problems. He was against war. He fought the death penalty.He taught that for people to be fully human they had to have access to jobs, food, medical care, and respect. For him life was more than a sound bite. If our society is going to build a "culture of life" we have to work on all of this, not just what makes the headlines.


  6. I wholeheartedly agree.

  7. This is a beautiful tribute.

  8. I wish I could be as positive, but living in Boston, I saw the his abdication of responsibility in the clergy abuse scandal. Yes, he summoned the American Cardinals to Rome to read them the riot act, but talk is cheap. Where were the words of comfort to the victims? Where was the offer of financial assistance to the Archdiocese to prevent the implosion that is now occurring? I don't mind that this Pope was conservative on doctrine--that is his right. He could have been a great man, but in the crucible of this crisis, he failed.

    Bernard Law resides in the Vatican. He belongs in a correctional institution called MCI Cedar Junction.