Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II 1920-2005

As you are probably all aware, the Pope died today at the age of eighty-four. Whether or not you agreed with all of his positions, you must at least respect his kindness and the courage of his convictions. Coming from humble beginnings while growing up in war-torn Poland, Karol Wojtyla turned family tragedy into a calling to serve mankind. He was the first non-Italian pope selected in 455 years. While many younger people only remember his recent frailty, when he was selected to be pope at the age of 58, his energy and enthusiasm was considered a refreshing change for the ancient office. This Polish Pope, who had lived under both the tyranny of Fascism and Communism, played a key role in the peaceful democratic revolutions that occurred first in Poland and then in the rest of Eastern Europe. Throughout all of this, he did not strive to impose Catholicism on the rest of the world, only hoping that all of humanity, even those behind the Iron Curtain, would have freedom of faith.

He cared deeply about rebuilding the bridges that had been burned between the Church and other faiths whether these other faiths be Christian or not. He helped to spark a better relationship between the Church and the scientific community by accepting the theory of evolution.

While many in the Western World slipped into living only for pleasure and convenience, the Pope stayed firm and spoke out for sacrifice and character. While others sought to cheapen life and children and make them only into commodities and accessories, the Pope was a constantly advocating to keep life sacred. While some mocked his recent physical suffering, he cherished the opportunity to show grace and humility to the rest of the world.

When this man was almost killed by a Turkish assassin, he reached out to the man and forgave and befriended him. In the past few days, the man who brought John Paul to the brink death, said that he was now praying for the man he called "brother."

With forgiveness, Pope John Paul II reaches out to Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who had tried to kill him only two years earlier

His opinions against the death penalty, abortion and war were unpopular had critics on both the right and the left. I will say that I am not Catholic and at times I disagreed with many of the things the man said and believed. Nevertheless, today I sadly mourn this man who lived for others and not just himself; who lived for conviction, not political expediency; and who always held life, grace, forgiveness and humility above all else.

God Bless You, Karol.

His help in ending the tyranny of Communism in Poland and beyond.

CNN's Biography. This is very much worth the time to read.

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