Sunday, April 03, 2005

A surprise

Comic Pope
Originally uploaded by francesbean.
I don't mean his death, of course, but his whole papacy. I was a teenager when John Paul was elected and I remember how refreshing he was -- smart and strong, both in bearing and in beliefs. This wasn't just another elderly Italian. I remember going to see him in Boston. (I don't remember the year, but it must have been around 1980.) For an outdoor mass, he ordered the front of the altar reserved for young people. It worked for a while, but the Knights of Columbus types organizing the event were obviously not happy with the arrangement. They opened the gates hours before the pope arrived and we were squeezed out and pushed back, but there were still a significant number of us in hearing range when he gave his youth-oriented homily.

Yes, he was either too conservative or not conservative enough for many people. But he was consistent and he managed to guide the church through challenges ranging from fundamentalism to communism. I wouldn't want the burden of being the guy who has to follow him.