Pope John Paul II

He generates an electricity unmatched by anyone else on earth." Time noted in naming him Man of the Year in 1994

Pope John Paul II broke down several barriers in the Church when he was chosen to be the next pope in 1978. He was a youthful cardinal of polish decent ending centuries of exclusive Italian popes. (15th century) Shortly after becoming Pope, he survived an assignation attempt. His 25-year reign has seen several triumphs including his open support for Poland's solidarity party, the collapse of communism and the expansion of the pontiff as he travelled to well over 100 countries. However, controversy was not avoided either as the pope vigorously defended several doctrines including the discrimination of women and contraceptives. 

Pope John Paul Superstar also became the first Pope to visit Canada. He has made three visits to Canada and has turned the pontiff into a global image. After several elderly Popes succeeding him this Pope ascended on top of the world stage with a burst of energy and brought the pontificate into the 21st century.

Karol Wojtyla was born under the iron curtain. He trained secretly to become a priest and used his creativity to preach freely. He was a vibrant young pope who also proved to be an intellectual. He is fluent in Polish, Russian, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Although an intellectual, the Pope has been very critical of movements that have lessened the influence of the church. Professor Judt observed, "He regards the Enlightenment, what we think of as the moment of the coming of modern thought, the belief in the rights of man, the beliefs in equality, the belief in democracy as the product of another mistake, the mistake that human kind made in abandoning faith and God two, three hundred years ago in the West. And his task is not to put that mistake to rights. He simply behaves as though it hadn't happened...That is his relation to modernity."

"Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves"Pope John Paul II

Although the Pope may dislike recent movements in the past few hundred years, he has warmly accepted science. Unlike other Pope's who have waged war against the scientific community, John Paul II has accepted recent findings that have come into conflict with steadfast religious agreement. Among the notable exceptions has been evolution and creationism. In regards to this controversial issue, the pontiff has not disputed scientific findings and instead modernized Christian beliefs to coexist with new scientific theories.

"Research offers an ever greater knowledge of the universe as a whole and of the incredibly rich array of its component parts, animate and inanimate, with their complex atomic and molecular structures. So far has science come, especially in this century, that its achievements never cease to amaze us. In expressing my admiration and in offering encouragement to these brave pioneers of scientific research, to whom humanity owes so much of its current development, I would urge them to continue their efforts without ever abandoning the sapiential horizon within which scientific and technological achievements are wedded to the philosophical and ethical values which are the distinctive and indelible mark of the human person. Scientists are well aware that in the search for truth, even when it concerns a finite reality of the world or of man, is never-ending, but always points beyond to something higher than the immediate object of study, to the questions which give access to Mystery" Pope John Paul II

John Paul II was the first pope to broadcast his message globally. But he didn't stop there; he decided to visit the faithful throughout the world. He made 170 visits to 120 countries in the past 20 years.

The Pope has created division over the status of women in the church. He has consistently rejected allowing women into the priesthood. In a meeting with a UN representative discussing rape and domestic violence, the Pope made this shocking comment about blaming women for crimes against them.

"Don't you think that the irresponsible behaviour of men is caused by women?" Pope John Paul II

The Pope may have brought new energy to the church but issues like gender discrimination have continued.

Another issue where the Pope has maintained a hard-line stance is abortion. While in Poland in 1996, he criticized the liberalization of the abortion law.

"A nation that kills its own children has no future." Pope John Paul II

"This is not a pope who looks at the public opinion polls," says Father Thomas Reese, editor of America magazine and author of the book "Inside the Vatican". "He says what he thinks is right and wrong from conviction. And that's why people admire him. He's a man of integrity and prayer, even if they don't agree with him."

The pope made a historical visit to Cuba in January 1998, and Cuban President Fidel Castro greeted him wearing a business suit. Castro escorted the frail Holy Father with almost touching deference.

After the fall of communism the Pope did not stop being politically active. His most noticeable political advocacy was Jubilee 2000 when he joined forces with rock star Bono to forgive third world debt. He has remained critical of the greed of capitalism and advocated an equaled distribution of wealth. He warned about the dangers of materialism, selfishness and secularism, and suggested lowering the standard of living and sharing the wealth with the Third World.

Although he himself has been a political activist, he has been critical of other Catholic religious leaders who have become aligned with a particular political cause.

"When they begin to use political means," he said. "They cease to be theologians." Pope John Paul II

His criticism he directed at priests who were aligned with guerrilla leaders in South America.. But, also it serves an important warning that the church should serve as an interest group and avoid being making political decisions.

As the Pope has aged, he has become increasingly frail. But he has adjusted to this role. For the world, youth day celebrations in Toronto it was questionable if the Pope would even attend. Not only did he come but also he surprised onlookers be deciding to climb down the stairs of the plane himself.

The next pope will have a tough act to follow. Issues such as the sex scandals and equality of women will have to be addressed.

canadianwild.ca April 8 2005 comment: April 8th was an extraordinary day in history. The world watched the world's most covered funeral service of all-time of Pope John Paul II. Virtually every newspaper in the world put it in the spotlight. Except one nation.

Canada's media somehow decided another story was more newsworthy than the death of the most recognizable figure in the world. On Friday's national post there was a single quote on the front page without a picture. One presumes it's probably a quote by the pope or about the pope. But instead it was by ad executive Jean Brault. It boggles the mind how this nation's media decided to pursue an outrageous story made by one man whose testimony should taken with a grain of salt because he has been charged with the RCMP and could be lying to save his skin. Donating money to the liberal party to secure contracts sounds believable. (and wrong to do) But leaving envelopes of money at an Italian (could there be a more obvious one) restaurant sounds like it was fabricated the night before. I believe he probably made it up to hide the fact he pocketed alot of sponsorship money himself and is trying to portray himself as the victim. The media could look red-faced for taking the phrase "if it bleeds, it leads" to new heights.

Maybe I am wrong and it's all true. Either way the rest of the world doesn't care. The New York Times put stories from Mexico ahead of this man's testimony. There is no or very little coverage in Europe. It's hardly a scandal compares to what's happening in Italy, France, and the UK right now. I also think the uncontested contracts awarded to Haliburton are 10x worse than the ad contracts. The Washington Post placed this story as 3rd in importance in stories from Canada. Ahead were a story about a BC cult and an interview with Frank McKenna.

Related Rants:

Human Rights and 9/11

Albert Einstein Bio

Iraq War Morally Wrong

Related Links:

CBC News Indepth: John Paul II

Obituary: Pope John Paul II

Obituary: All-Embracing Man of Action for a new era of papacy

The Vatican Spiritual Superpower

Editorial: Pope John Paul II

Obituary: Pope John Paul II

Pope Benedict XVI  filling the shoes of the fisherman

Updated: April 28, 2008
Created: November 13, 2006
canadianwild.ca Creations 2003-2011