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April 02, 2005

Il Papa Morto

I was watching CNN today when the breaking news was that the "Pope has Died". I, like many others, knew it was coming given his failing health over the past several days, months - but I was still stunned. It hurt.

I was brought up a Catholic, going to church every Sunday as a family, all eight of us in our Sunday best, week in, week out. Half the time I paid attention, half the time I didn't (probably because they said mass in Latin until I was 12 or so). But I did what I was suppose to do. Later, I became a bit disenchanted, removed from the Catholic religion during my late teens and into my adulthood. I just couldn't come to grips with being at odds with the teachings of the church and my own personal beliefs. I think there were millions of others who thought the same thing during the 70's, 80's. It was a tough time for the Church. One of the things that really bothers me are hypocrites. How could I devote myself to a religion and not agree with the teachings.

John Paul II changed all of that for me. Although I still didn't, and don't agree with all of the teachings of the church, he found a way to reach out to people. It was if he transcended  the religion that he led and spoke to us beyond the "rules". I'll never forget the gatherings in Denver in the late 90's during World Youth Week. Hundreds of thousands of kids with parents and chaperons in tow, pilgramaging to Denver to be together and to be with the Pope. The scene was amazing. If he could move teens like that, he was OK in my book. Or when he led the rise against communism - Kissinger still credits JP2 as being the single biggest cause for the rise of democracy and the fall of communism. Or when he "scolded" our President for "invading Iraq" - loved it! Here was the so called "most powerful man in the world - Bush" being reprimanded by the Pope who was in his 80's and in poor health.

John Paul II died today and I was deeply saddened not because we lost the Pope, but because one of the greatest leaders of all time, a leader who gave us hope, a leader that gave us all new possibilities, is now gone. We might not all agree with what the Catholic church has to say, but when you look at what that man has done, he was a godsend. He helped changethe world for the better, he gave Catholics a reason to be proud again. JP2 - we love you!

April 2, 2005 in Religion | Permalink


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