Home > Perspective
A Hero has Passed
Before Pope John Paul II was elected, rude and sometimes vicious Polish jokes were commonplace, especially in non-Polish Chicago neighborhoods. By 1991, people who told Polish jokes usually received a scornful comeback along the lines of: "How many Polish Popes does it take to destroy Communism?" That is how much Karol Wotyjla changed the world.
Make no mistake about it, John Paul II was and still is a worldwide hero. Conservative in his stance on Catholic doctrine, Conservative in his love of individual liberty and disgust over Communism, Conservative in his social teachings, this pope did more to free the world from one of its worst evils than everyone else on Earth except his partners in overthrowing communism, Reagan and Lech Walesa. John Paul II believed in Jesus Christ and that belief guided him to an exemplary life.
"I am struck by the irony that, as he was dying, the Pope found time to dictate a statement condemning the starvation of Terri Schiavo. He was also unable to talk at the end, and he was also fed last week by a feeding tube. He led by example in this and every other situation."
I am struck by the irony that, as he was dying, the Pope found time to dictate a statement condemning the starvation of Terri Schiavo. He was also unable to talk at the end, and he was also fed last week by a feeding tube. He led by example in this and every other situation. John Paul II’s heroism, intelligence (he fluently spoke eight languages) and wisdom have been fundamental to shaping policy, especially here in the United States. Do you think that Arlen Specter and John McCain are responsible for this country’s steady return toward decency and values? Do you think that the Congress would have acted to try to save Terri Schiavo from forced starvation were not for those values that were exemplified by this Pope?
Here is a man that read in the Bible that you must forgive everyone or your Father in Heaven will not forgive you. So he forgave the man who tried to kill him and nearly succeeded. Here is a man that stood firm against political forces that tried to change fundamental church teachings, such as the sanctity of life. Here is a man that was consistent in his courageous fight for that sanctity of life, resisting abortion, eugenics, euthanasia and capital punishment.
I am a former Catholic who presently is a born-again Christian. However, the fact that I disagree with certain Catholic teachings, and hold the Bible supreme over the doctrines of men does not mitigate my respect for one of the world’s greatest heroes. In the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday editorial page, there was a cartoon of John Paul II walking from us towards his reward. He was a small figure in the cartoon, but he left behind gigantic footprints. That cartoon summed it up succinctly and correctly.
One of history’s greatest heroes has passed. Godspeed. Enjoy your eternal reward.