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RE: A Man for All Seasons - OT from the Wall Street Journal

Donna: Thank you so much for posting this lovely article. I am many days
behind in catching up on email and just now got to it...at least twice
tonight I was wondering where to find some info. I could give my
religion ed. class today about this amazing man...thanks to you I now
have something.

Melody Hobert-Mellecker
Director, Stewardship & Religious Education
St. Joseph's Parish, Hills, IA

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."    
--Albert Einstein

 --- On Sat 04/02, Donna < gossiper@sbcglobal.net > wrote:
From: Donna [mailto: gossiper@sbcglobal.net]
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Date: Sat, 2 Apr 2005 18:22:47 -0600
Subject: [CHAT] A Man for All Seasons - OT from the Wall Street Journal

Not intending to start a discussion on religion, politics, or anything
else<br>controversial here.... as always, I will continue to keep my
opinions to<br>myself. Besides, I can't afford to send you all candy and
flowers :)<br><br>That said, I felt this was a good article and decided
to pass it along here.<br>FWIW, a friend was in Rome right before he got
ill and brought back a lovely<br>cross necklace for me which as it turns
out, was one of the last things
he<br>blessed.<br><br>Donna<br><br>---<br>REVIEW & OUTLOOK<br><br>A Man
for All Seasons <br>The very modern papacy of John Paul II. <br>April 2,
2005 <br><br>When the white smoke curled up from the Sistine Chapel on
that October<br>evening back in 1978, it signaled that a new Pope had
been chosen. His name<br>was Karol Wojtyla. He came, as he said, from a
distant land, and as he<br>looked upon the faithful who had gathered on
St. Peter's Square he offered<br>words that would sum up his pastoral
mission: "Be not afraid." <br><br>Pope John Paul II died today. In the
post-Berlin Wall world this man did so<br>much to shape, it's difficult
to recall the much different circumstances<br>that obtained when he
assumed the chair of St. Peter. Former Italian prime<br>minister Aldo
Moro had been kidnapped and executed by terrorists. In Iran<br>bloody
protests were brewing that would within months pull down the Shah
and<br>usher in the ayatollahs. In the Soviet Union the dissident
Anatoly<br>Shcharansky (now the Israeli Natan<br>Sharansky) was
dispatched to the gulag, while Afghanistan had already<br>endured the
leftist coup that would, in short order, lead to a
full-fledged<br>Soviet invasion. <br><br>Ronald Reagan and Margaret
Thatcher were still in the future, and so was a<br>workers' strike
called by an unknown Pole named Lech Walesa. Everywhere one<br>looked,
the truth of the Brezhnev Doctrine seemed brutally self-evident:<br>Once
Communist, always Communist. Oh, yes: The Catholic Church which
this<br>first Slavic pope found himself bequeathed was thought by many

be<br>hopelessly irrelevant to the crises of modern times. <br><br>
<br><br>The bishop from Krakow knew all this--better than his critics.
For this was<br>a man eminently comfortable with modernity--even while
he refused to accept<br>modernity's most shallow assumptions. Just as he
offered his first public<br>words as pope in Italian to make himself
understood by those below his<br>balcony, he held that ultimate truths
about man and his relationship with<br>his Creator are never outdated,
however much they require constant<br>expression in new languages and
new circumstances. As he never ceased to<br>declare, Communism's core
failure was not economic. It was anthropological,<br>stemming from its
false understanding of human nature. <br><br>Karol Wojtyla did not learn
this from textbooks. He was old enough to recall<br>how the twin
totalitarianisms of our age--fascism and communism--were each<br>once
lauded by intellectuals as the inevitable destination and promise
of<br>the future. In Poland he tasted them both, yet he remained
unintimidated.<br>This experience would shape his entire papacy, a
testament to his conviction<br>that moral truth has its own legions.
<br><br>And so he set that splendid Polish jaw against all the
prevailing winds and<br>. . . well, we know the rest of the story.
Ironically, better than even some<br>of his allies, the Communists
themselves grasped the threat posed by a man<br>whose only power was to
expose the moral hollowness at the core of their<br>claim. When the
leader of Communist Poland tried to explain to the leader of<br>the
Communist U.S.S.R. that, as a fellow Pole, he knew how best to
handle<br>this new pope, Leonid Brezhnev responded prophetically. If the
church<br>weren't dealt with, Brezhnev retorted, "sooner or later it
would gag in our<br>throats, it would suffocate us." It did.
<br><br>From today's vantage, even that victory has quickly receded into
history. In<br>the years since the Berlin Wall was pulled down, the new
take on the Bishop<br>of Rome was to try to distin

ish between two popes: The liberal Cold<br>Warrior who took on
totalitarianism and the social scold who would replace<br>it with a
Christian authoritarianism of his own.<br><br><br>We had our own
disagreements with this pope, notably over America's efforts<br>in Iraq
in two wars. But even in disagreement we have always understood
that<br>this pope was no schizophrenic. It is possible, as many who
otherwise admire<br>him do, to disagree with Pope John Paul's teachings
on marriage and<br>homosexuality, on abortion, and so on. But it
impossible to understand him<br>without conceding the coherency of his
argument: that the attempt to<br>liberate oneself from one's nature is
the road to enslavement, not freedom. <br><br><br><br>In progressive
circles in the West, religion in general and Christianity
in<br>particular tend to find themselves caricatured as a series of Thou
Shalt<br>Nots, particularly when they touch on human sexuality. But it
is no<br>coincidence that George Weigel entitled his biography of John
Paul "Witness<br>to Hope." For billions of people around the
world--non-Catholics<br>included--that's exactly what he was. Perhaps
this explains why China, where<br>only a tiny fraction of its people are
Catholic, remained to the very end<br>fearful of allowing a visit from
this frail, physically suffering man,<br>fearing what he might inspire.
<br><br>We don't expect the secularalists who dominate our
intelligentsia ever to<br>understand how a man rooted in orthodox
Christianity could ever reconcile<br>himself with modernity, much less
establish himself on the vanguard of world<br>history. But many years
ago, when the same question was put to France's<br>Cardinal Lustiger by
a reporter, he gave the answer. "You're confusing a<br>modern man with
an American liberal," the cardinal replied. It was a<br>confusion that
Pope John Paul II, may he rest in peace, never made.
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