/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » The Loss of a Pope

As a non-Catholic, I didn’t think that I would be much affected when John Paul II passed away. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It now seems to be “vogue” for a few moments to be Catholic, at least in the media. Maybe similar to how everyone was “American” after the 9/11 attacks, everyone is in some way “Catholic” after the Pope’s death. This certainly has made me think about my Catholic brothers & sisters more.

I don’t remember much about JPII’s appointment as Pope in 1978–I was only 8 and living in Japan at the time, relatively oblivious to the outside world as a whole. But after we came back to the States, we lived in a highly Catholic area (we were one of two Protestant families in our neighborhood). Although my friends were Catholic, I really didn’t understand much about the doctrine or dogma of the Roman Church. I could, however, sympathize with Catholics when the Pope was shot–I was old enough to understand what that was about.

Later, as I understood more of Catholic doctrine directly, I assumed a bit of a snobbish “I’m not Catholic” stance that I’m ashamed of today. What I didn’t understand at the time was that individual faith is just that–individual. While one might worship in a larger church with whose doctrine I disagree, the person’s faith is just as individual as mine–and potentially just as vibrant. And while today many look down at the American Catholic church over the pedophilia-scandal that has plagued both individuals and the Roman Church as a whole, I don’t think it reflects either individual Catholic believers or the Pope himself. I think it’s a microcosm of the evil of sin in our world and what happens when sin is ignored and brushed under the rug. Everyone suffers–the innocents who were hurt, those who have nothing to do with the sin (but share a common faith), and the ones who tried to whitewash what was clearly sin and a crime.

I think everything in JPII’s life (at least, that was visible to us through the media) suggested that his faith in Jesus was personal, real, and vibrant. He tried to bring Jesus to many young people and was an ambassador for Christ and for peace everywhere he went. I don’t hold to Catholic doctrine any more now than I did 15 years ago in the height of my snobbishness, but I can see Truth where it lies a little more clearly now, and now it doesn’t matter nearly as much across which doctrinal lines that Truth walks.

I found myself praying for my Catholic brethren this weekend as they mourned the loss of their leader, and find myself praying that God would appoint His choice for Pope in the weeks ahead. I feel confident that Karol Wojtyla is walking in the presence of Jesus now and would want his successor to love God as much as he did..

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