Saturday, April 02, 2005

Goodbye, John Paul II



When you are thirty years old, your last name is Kuszewski, you've attended 10 years of Catholic school, and your wife's birth certificate reads "CCCP", it's hard to overestimate the impact that Pope John Paul the Second has had on your life. Though at this point I attend church only when I am visiting my grandmother on the west coast and am called upon to drive her, I found myself this afternoon making the pilgimmage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, less as an affirmation of long suppressed Catholic faith, and more as small token of respect for a man who brought about profound change both prior to and during my lifetime.

Regardless of one's feelings regarding the Pope's moral stances regarding homosexuality or birth control or his decrees regarding the role of women in the church, I do believe that any honest evaluation of his reign on the throne of St. Peter would inevitably reach the conclusion that this is a man who masterfully leveraged the extraordinary ability to claim the authority of God for tremendous good and tremendous change in the world, and of course particularly in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Rather than rehashing the well-deserved adoring obituaries and tributes that will be plastered all over the media during the ensuing days and weeks, I will repost here from Lech Walesa his recounting of the inspiration he drew from Pope John Paul II, and express my immense personal gratification to John Paul for beginning the long chain of events that led to the fall of the iron curtain and, ultimately, to the opportunity for me to meet and marry the wonderful woman who I call my wife.

Here we have an amazing thing: The end of the 20th century is approaching, and also the end of the second thousand years of Christianity is approaching. I am convinced as a believer that it was a gift straight from heaven. When nobody believed, we got the Holy Father [Pope John Paul II], who undermines the system. He does not fight, but he is there. During a pilgrimage in Warsaw he said, "Don't be frightened, and change the face of the world." A year after these words, I myself, from 10 people a year earlier in opposition, I have 10 million people. People are not scared anymore, and they are trying to change the face of the world. I am not obsessed or saintly. I am a sinner, maybe an even greater one than all of you. But these are facts; almost all those people with whom I spoke are still alive. After this confirmation, after this gift at the end of the 20th century of Christianity, there is a movement 10 million strong which rises and grows. And we do just what you said. We undermine the leadership role of the party and the right of representation of the workers. We say that you do not represent us, you have no right to govern us. We kick into the soft abdomen of the system, and this encourages others. In other countries they are doing likewise. The rest you know.

- Lech Walesa

2 Comments:

Blogger That Dude said...

Dude,, nice post on John Paul. I have a similar one on my blog as well, although frankly it's not as eloquent as yours.

11:36 PM  
Blogger rox_publius said...

Thanks. I like to think the quality of my posts is directly proportional to the importance the subject matter has to me. And I feel pretty strongly about this one.

6:16 PM  

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