Yan's Corner - In Touch

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bishop of Roam

I do not know Pope John Paul II personally. I am not a Catholic. But I read quite a bit about him when he was alive and read more about him when he passed away.

The title today is not my original, but I “borrow” from Washington Post.

Of all articles that I have read, Robin Wright, Washington Post Staff Writer’s Bishop of Roam allows me to photograph in my heart the Pope he knew. The story carries a sub-heading “For John Paul II, the world was his parish”. Join me as I relate to you through the eyes of Robin Wright …

Picture No. 1 – In the slums of Rio, the Pope quietly slipped off his gold papal ring and gave it to a poor Brazilian parish to help its flock. What’s so special about this act is the ring that he gave away was a gift from Pope Paul VI. When he was elevated to cardinal in 1967.

Picture No. 2 – He led prayers in Hiroshima to the long-forgotten victims of the radiation more than 30 years after two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan that ended World War II. Later he showed his justice anger that two Catholics had been on the planes that unleashed the world’s deadliest weapon.

Picture No. 3 – In the Philippines, he embraced a little boy who had dodged through a massive crowd, defying tight security, to touch his pope.

Picture No. 4 – In Sao Paulo, he stood in a freezing rain at a stadium rally of some 120,000 Brazilian workers, thrusting his fist in the air shouting “Solidarity, solidarity”. He was urging the Brazilians to mobilize against their own military junta, and eventually they did.

Picture No. 5 – His private meeting with Ferdinand Marcos in 1981 ended with Marcos storming out of a room in his own palace. Robin wrote that he could still remember the fury on Marcos’ face. The pope delivered a blunt message that no government could justify subverting human rights in the name of its own security or survival.

Picture No. 6 - The pope always insisted he was only preaching Christ's timeless message. But he was shrewdly deliberate in where and how he used that message. Each of his trips to some 130 nations was masterfully planned.

Picture No. 7 - He reached out to personally console Associated Press correspondent Victor Simpson and his wife, Daniela Petroff, when their young daughter was among the 20 people murdered in simultaneous 1985 attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports by Palestinian renegades loyal to Abu Nidal.

Picture No. 8 - On most trips he came back on the plane to thank the journalists for traveling with him. He moved from seat to seat, answering the journalists’ questions, sharing a story or engaging in banter -- usually in whatever language the journalist spoke. He was accessible on any subject, from sex and birth control to modern warfare and economics.

Picture No. 9 – He entered a Jewish house of worship -- at a Rome synagogue in 1986, he held a joint ceremony with the chief rabbi and spoke in Hebrew. John Paul was the first pope in 2,000 years of Christianity to do so. He later prayed with Muslims at a mosque in Damascus, another first.

These are certainly great pictures of love in action.

The writer ended with the closing remark –

In the end, time was the only limit to John Paul's extraordinary papacy.

Or is there a limit?

1 comment(s):

Thank you. I am a Catholic who could not feel the so called love for the Pope because to me, he is so far above. In fact, I've always considered our religious people is just like political people. Fighting to get to the top. Your article made our late Pope more human and more real to me.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:52 pm  

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