JPII – A great difficulty

John Paul II was a mighty man, although he suffered from one great difficulty — he was a faithful disciple of Christ. Being Catholic and faithful to his church, JPII was, indeed, a modern rock, a Peter, beaten about by the tides of trendy and destructive forces. What would be amusing, if it did not show the failure of so many of the so-called faithful, is the way in which those who both claim to be Catholic, and who profess to admire the man, do not admire all of his teachings.

The term can be called “cafeteria Catholics”, those who choose which elements of Catholic teachings and dogmas that they will, or will not follow. Those who celebrate “liberation theology” come immediately to mind — they love to talk of the Beatitudes, but don’t dwell (or even mention) the coming of Jesus in glory to judge the living and the dead. Judge? That’s such a harsh term…

JPII would have none of this Marxist manifesto wrapped up in a communion wafer. He is judgmental as a churchman should be about such hijacking of the Christian faith, and this gets him in trouble with the trendies. But JPII knew that his sole mission was a soul mission — He was about saving souls through Christ Jesus, and in the traditional Catholic manner.

An example of a liberal (but not radical by any means) Catholic is Thomas Cahill, author of a variety of interesting if overstretched theses about civilization. As in, “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” In today’s New York Times, he confronts the notion that JPII will “destroy” the Roman Church:

Sadly, John Paul II represented a different tradition, one of aggressive papalism. Whereas John XXIII endeavored simply to show the validity of church teaching rather than to issue condemnations, John Paul II was an enthusiastic condemner. Yes, he will surely be remembered as one of the few great political figures of our age, a man of physical and moral courage more responsible than any other for bringing down the oppressive, antihuman Communism of Eastern Europe. But he was not a great religious figure. How could he be? He may, in time to come, be credited with destroying his church.

Get it? He “was not a great religious figure.” Why? Because he stood in the gap against modernity? Because he insisted on eternal verities for his flock? Because he refused to compromise on the Gospel?

All of the above. John Paul II was a rock in an age of shifting sands.

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