Sunday, April 03, 2005


Pope John Paul II died on Saturday, March 2, 2005 and the world mourns.

Though I’m not a Catholic I held the Pope with the deepest respect. Even though I disagreed with many of his positions I admired the man as being an uncompromising champion of children’s rights and for his influence in bringing down the Iron Curtain in the late 80’s. His influence was undeniable as was his feisty spirit and his unfathomable dignity in the face of deteriorating health.

The third longest-serving pope in history John Paul II died as he lived, with dignity and grace. He urged his millions of followers "do not weep". Even as he battled Parkinson's disease John Paul II inspired the world with his fortitude and charm.

In 1993 the pope visited Denver for World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful flocked to the mile high city to see their revered leader. One of the things that struck me about the Pope was one day when he was walking through Red Rocks Amphitheater Park. The park had been sealed off and security barriers were in place at every entrance. As the Pope went on one of his customary morning walks he saw some of his followers behind a security barrier. Against the advice of his security detail he walked over to the people to talk and shake hands and speak with them. This is how the man led his life. The Pope was unflinching, unconventional, yet ever his own man and a true servant of God.

John Paul II was the most traveled pope in history. In 26 years he traveled over 1,000,000 miles and nominated over three fourths of the world's living bishops. Prior to the reign of John Paul II popes generally led solitary lives. But John Paul II changed that. He was easily the most accessible pope of the 20th century. He delivered sermons to over 14 million people and held audience with hundreds of world leaders whom he gave undivided attention. In 1994 he was named Time magazine's Man of the Year. John Paul II became an ordained priest in 1946 and devoted the last 58 years of his life to the Catholic Church. In that time he became teacher, philosopher, and icon to the world's one billion practicing Catholics.

John Paul II should be respected for his accomplishments and admired for his class. As the world weeps for one of its true earthly titans let us all raise our glasses in salute to the life of our greatest elder statesman. Good bye Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. You will be sorely missed.