Il Papa di Tutti Papas...
As I write this, I have just found out that Pope John Paul II has been re-admitted to a hospital in Rome, where he has undergone an operation described as "being like a tracheotomy". For several weeks now, the Pope has been in and out of hospitals with "flu-like" symptoms. I don't wish to speak ill or to start unfounded rumors, but I believe that JP II is suffering from pneumonia, the dreaded "old man's disease", and that his days on this earth are numbered. While I do not look forward to such a prospect, it is, of course, inevitable.
I am a lapsed Catholic. I say lapsed because while I was raised in the church and attended Catholic schools all my life, there are several major issues I have with the church that have caused me to doubt my faith. In fact, I'd even be willing to say that I have no faith in a sense. But despite my personal squables with the church, it is evident to me that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of a great man and it is saddening.
JP II was a stromg man who withstood the ravages of the Nazis, stood firm against the evils of communism, and had the courage of his convictions and beliefs. I cannot, for the life of me, think of a figure loved by more people around the world. I remember his first visit to the United States, when I was a child, and the buzz it generated amongst the clergy at my school, and the excitement it generated throughout New York City. It is not often that a single individual can command so much attention, so much respect and so much heartfelt empathy as JP II did in those days. I was affected by it deeply. Here was a caring man, a strong leader and source of comfort to many, and you only had to look at him to know that whatever you thought about the church, it was now in able hands.
The man will be sorely missed and the legacy will be with us for decades, if not centuries, to come.
Go with God, your Holiness. May he bless and keep you.