The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Karol Wojtyla: 1920-2005

As has been blogged and reported to death, Pope John-Paul II passed away Saturday morning. Now there has been a whole lot of crapola throw on the internet wall about the pope, but so much of it is ranting and raving and so little of it reasoned arguments. So let me attempt to balance rants out with some thought. Most of the posts seem to take his anti-communism stance for granted, much like- I would argue- we would take for granted any white southerner who advocated integration in the mid-20th century. In our worldview, not their's. What he did was truly revolutionary. John-Paul presided over a religion that has the strongest commitment to social justice in the world. He was entirely anti-elective war, and his stance on condoms, abortion, health care, the death penalty, etc, are philosophically consistent. Unlike the Democratic party's inconsistent pro-choice/anti-death penalty stance. And while I abhor what has happened with sexually abusive priests, and am in complete disagreement with the church's teachings on contraception, sex before marriage, women as clerics, etc, I won't ever use that as a starting point to denigrate the religion of 1.1 billion people. So I would like to relay a couple of stories that I can tell to help celebrate his death.

First, I was one of the many in San Antonio who watched his quick drive through San Antonio in 1987. Only 6 at the time, I remember very little of it, but my mom tells a story that helps reinforce her faith everyday. Standing on the right side of the street, Pope John-Paul looked sure to pass us by while waving at the crowd to his left. As my mother publicly lamented this, the pope proceeded to pivot right around, look my mother right in the eye, and wave to all of our extended family standing on the street. He then immediately turned right around and continued waving to the throngs of people at his left. Now there are numerous logical explanations for his turning, all of which my mom surely knows, but such is the power of faith that she continues to believe in the story above.

I also attended college with a Polish friend whose grandmother had actually grown up with Wojtyla. Over the years, except for a short time when she lived near a parish that Father Wojtyla presided over, they fell out of touch, but shortly before her death she was able to visit the Vatican. While there she was able to attend an audience with the pope and speak with him briefly. As told by my friend, she found it amazing that a boy whom she grew up with would one day lead her religion.

Additionally, I am acutely aware of his trials with Parkinson's. My grandfather has suffered from this debilitating disease for nearly a decade now, and the sort of courage, will, and downright stubborness it takes to continue on with his life is a testament to how much he cherishes it. The same can be said of the pope. This seems to be probably the most overlooked fact in the essays written about him right now.

Finally, I will leave you with a list of links from those who have chosen to give a fair-handed view of Pope John-Paul II and his life:

Robert Rivard
, Express-News
Roddy Stinson, Express-News
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo
kid oakland, Daily Kos

Also, here are some links from those who believe spewing vitriol at a flawed man is the best thing to do within hours of his death-

, Daily Kos
Shakespeare's Sister (but apparently we should read an obit. on comedian Mitch Hedberg who "she really liked alot")
Matt Yglesias

But that's right, Dems don't need to get religion, we just need better language in our platform...