Monday, April 04, 2005

Pope JP2

While my co-blogger John tends to view all religion and all religionists as equal, I tend to find the differences between them more interesting.

The late Pope John-Paul 2 has had a remarkable tenure as Pope. Not only one of the longest-serving popes in history, but also one who has devoted his time to a strong agenda combining politics (think Poland and the fall of communism), doctrine (think contraception and AIDS) and theology (think Padre Pio and the Virgin Mary).

He has spent most of his time looking outward from the Vatican, and until slowed by illness he made an unprecedented number of foreign trips, with his characteristic gesture of kissing the tarmac on arrival at every airport.

His predecessor John-Paul 1, who died suddenly after only a month, also had a strong agenda, but one that involved looking inward at the Vatican and the hierarchy. Sadly he did not live to carry out this agenda. Although the rumours that he was murdered are doubtless completely without foundation, it has been suggested that the selection of a non-Italian pope with an entirely different agenda may have suited some elements within the Vatican. The rumours may even have encouraged the new pope to concentrate his energies on exernal matters. We may note the same tendency among secular leaders, who prefer the international stage (where they are regarded as statesmen) to the domestic (where they are regarded as mere politicians).

No comments: