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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Monday, April 04, 2005

A Hero Passes

Even though I am not Roman Catholic, I deeply mourn the passing of a great Christian hero, Karol Wojtyla--John Paul II. He has been a hero of mine as long as I've been an adult, since not long after I realized I was a Christian.

Like LaShawn Barber, I initially hesititated to comment. It's hard--I am very much a doctrinally ye olde-fashionede Reformed Protestant who doesn't cotton much to Catholic interpretation of God's Word, but I remember Paul's admonition, "each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." If Catholic friends wish to debate doctrine, I will gladly do so--I have studied Catholic doctrine and find much of it fascinating--but not now... not for a time. So, if I have differences with some of what he taught, I will not bring them up in this venue, nor will I engage in the kind of snarky criticism much of the MSM and a few within evangelical Christiandom have.

You do not have to be a Catholic to have loved this man and what he accomplished, as Charles Krauthammer, a Jew, proves:

It was Stalin who gave us the most famous formulation of that cynical (and today quite fashionable) philosophy known as "realism'' -- the idea that all that ultimately matters in the relations among nations is power: "The pope? How many divisions does he have?''

Stalin could only have said that because he never met John Paul II. We have just lost the man whose life was the ultimate refutation of "realism.'' Within 10 years of his elevation to the papacy, John Paul II had given his answer to Stalin and to the ages: More than you have. More than you can imagine.

John Paul II's first great mission was to reclaim his native Eastern Europe for civilization. It began with his visit to Poland in 1979, symbolizing and embodying a spiritual humanism that was the antithesis of the soulless materialism and decay of late Marxist-Leninism. As millions gathered to hear him and worship with him, they began to feel their own power and to find the institutional structure -- the vibrant Polish church -- around which to mobilize.
I am old enough to remember several of his predecessors. If you had told me in the late 70s--as a newly-avowed Protestant Christian, that I would care whether a Pope lived or died, I would have laughed at you. The "Blessed" John XXIII was the best of the pre-Polonia Popes in my lifetime and he's known mostly for turning the ancient Mass into the stuff of hootenanies. Paul VI? Don't even go there! Liberation theology... implementing Vatican II in all its modernist, Mackerel Plaza excess... yuk. But this Pope's passing is truly sad for me.

One of the great accomplishments of John Paul II was that he succeeded in making his papacy a ministry of reconciliation without comproming first things. He refused to continue the dilution of Catholicism into a slightly more traditional version of Episcopalianism, begun by John XXIII, that was the darling cause of the developed world's Catholics. He especially rejected the radicalization of the church pushed by the Latin American episcopate--making Catholicism a fellow-travelling adjunct to radical evil through liberation theology's attachment to communism. He spent decades rooting this apostacy out of the chruch and apointing Bishops who saw their calling the way he did--all without creating schism in the church. I just wish he'd been able to complete the sweep and clean out the horribly corrupt, Leftist episcopates in the US and Western Europe. He was one of the principle archtects of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, of course. He revitalized Catholicism throughout the "Third World" by doing nothing more than going to the people and preaching unadulterated, unapologetic Catholicism. He also won the respect of Jews and Protestant Christians, even many who were formerly disdainful of Catholicism.

Now we can begin the fun of sorting the papabili, the potential Popes, and all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds this. Here's a good rundown of what must be done to choose the next Bishop of Rome and here's a list of the most likely papabili. My vote's on the African Cardinal, Francis Arinze, because his accession will really tick off the muslims in Africa, who he has attempted dialog with, and because he's an arch-conservative who's taken tough stances on things like homosexuality. Not that I get a vote. Bettors are giving best odds to Cardinal Tettamanzi of Italy, who's also pretty conservative. A lot of hoopla will attend the next Pope's election, but I fail to see what's wrong with this method:
So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.


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