03 April 2005

Pope John Paul II: The End of an Era

This weekend is one that the world will always remember. Our great brother and global moral leader, Pope John Paul II, left this world yesterday, and we mourn. We do, however, celebrate his life and feel sincere gratitude for the way he change our lives. Pope John Paul II will be remembered as probably the greatest pontiff that the Catholic Church has ever had. For progressives and those who yearn to make the world a better place, he will be forever seen as an inspiration.

The Fall of Communism

Last summer when America lost its 40th president, most of the talking heads discussed the fall of communism and attempted to assign credit for its demise. The conservative media, such as FOX News, MSNBC, CNN, and talk radio, credited Ronald Reagan for communism's fall, which was nice considering Reagan's death, but far from accurate. Of course, the American presidents who were most responsible for communism crumbling were John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, and most of all, Harry S. Truman. Reagan did play a role; however, he would not have been successful if it had not been for the groundwork laid by two great Christians of our time, President Jimmy Carter and Pope John Paul II.

During his first term, Reagan declared the Soviet Union an "evil empire." His rhetoric was too offensive, and it failed to resonate around the globe. It wasn't until he retreated from this approach and returned to the style of Jimmy Carter, who argued that communism was destined for collapse because of its lack of Christian-like principles and its failure to recognize the value of human life. Once Reagan adopted Carter's arguments, he was able to fall behind the leadership of Pope John Paul II. The relationship may be best explained with a football analogy. Carter called the play and dished the ball to Reagan. Reagan then followed Pope John Paul II into the endzone. Unfortunately, TV pundits fail to recognize Carter's strategic brilliance and the Pope's brute strength; they merely remember Reagan's touchdown dance. Presidents Carter and Reagan were largely responsible for the ultimate fall of communism, but the end would not have been realized when it was if it had not been for the strength and leadership of our late, great Pope.

A True Culture of Life

Many have said that John Paul II was a conservative pope. This is not correct. Perhaps in relation to his predecessors, he may have been to their right on the political spectrum, but one cannot honestly say that this Pope was a conservative. On issues such as abortion and gay rights, he was a conservative, while on issues like the death penalty, war, and the role of government, he was a liberal. However, the issue that is most prominent within the Catholic Church is helping the poor around the globe. On the issue of poverty, Pope John Paul II was as liberal as Jesus Christ himself.

In American politics, the newest focus group-tested phrase is "culture of life." President George W. Bush and Senator Mel Martinez claim to support a culture of life, but their records fail to support such a statement. Defending a culture of life requires more than the desire to make abortion illegal. In fact, there were more reported abortions in the 12-months prior to the Roe v. Wade decision than in the 12-months following the high court decision. In fact, reversing Roe would do little to stop or even reduce the number of abortions. Pope John Paul II recognized that the best way to protect the unborn was not through the politician's laws, but through the people's hearts. Yes, the Pope wished for abortion to be illegal, but he never threw up his hands in frustration like the religious right in this country. He continued his quest, in any manner that he could, and continued to make a difference in this battle. Additionally, Pope John Paul II recognized that a "culture of life" pertains to ALL life, and he expanded this struggle to the death penalty and more importantly, the poor. This is a consistency that is never seen in our country's so-called moral leaders.

Life Without Pope John Paul II

As previously stated, Pope John Paul II hastened the fall of communism by building his credibility around the globe and by becoming a true moral leader of the world. As our generation faces the threat of terrorism and increasing death and destruction in places like the Sudan, we must truly recognize the enormity of this loss. The leaders of today, from President George W. Bush to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, fall far short of the leadership needed to succeed in our complex, global crises. It takes a man or woman of Pope John Paul II's character to relieve the tension that exists between Muslims and with Christians and Jews. It was this Pope that recognized and addressed the Catholic Church's reprehensible behavior toward the Jews in World War II, and his efforts to mend those fences spoke volumes of the size of this man's heart. It will take more than the swagger of an arrogant president and the willing ignorance of a secretary-general to solve the problems of this generation. The world needs to follow in the steps of Pope John Paul II. Only then will good finally triumph over evil.

I cannot describe the sadness in my heart this day. Our Holy Father will be greatly missed by the world and of course by this Catholic author. The world will never forget him, and we will always attempt to follow his guidance in the pursuit of social justice, heavenly greatness, and brotherly love.

Farewell my Father, and thank you!


Blogger American On Line said...

You state your case wonderfully. I am sorry for the loss of your Father.

7:00:00 PM  

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