If you’ve been watching television, listening to the radio, reading the newspapers or the news magazines, you know one thing for certain: Pope John Paul II has gone to meet His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Gone to His Just Reward
A saintly man like John Paul II has an enormous reward awaiting him. And yet, it is the same reward we all hope to attain at the end of our lives, even if not on such a high level.
We did not lose our parents while we were children, did not work in a labor camp under the Nazis, did not have to go underground to attend the seminary, did not have to be bishop under the Communists, nor did we travel hundreds thousands of miles to visit 135 nations, many several times, or suffer with Parkinson’s and multiple ailments.
And that is only the surface: the holiness, deep spirituality, long hours of pray, conferences, sermons, addresses—and still love your enemies, and forgive your would-be assassin.
John Paul had many enemies, even in the Church. A homosexual activist said recently that when the Holy Father lost his voice he was being paid back for speaking out against gay marriage.
My John Paul Story
John Paul’s was a remarkable life and I do not believe we will see the likes of him again. But now everybody has a Pope John Paul story of some kind or other, and here, small and insignificant as it is, is mine.
When I was attending a Family World Council conference in the Vatican in 1991, the Holy Father greeted us one by one and when I shook hands with him I became so flustered I handed him a video, shook hands and said I was from Chicago. The Pope answered “Oh, Chicago. That’s a very pro-life city.” I assured him that we were trying.
But there in my pocket was a list of some sixty pro-abortion Catholic politicians who needed disciplining. I felt I had to get that list to him, but it was too late, he was greeting someone else. So I found out what his exit route, and managed to be standing there as he was leaving.
I said, “Holy Father, it is very important that you study this list.” He said he would, then handed it to his assistant. I’m sure he has seen similar lists many times, but it felt good knowing I had put my own list right in his hand. I had done what a pro-lifer is supposed to do when in Rome.
John Paul has talked about Catholic politicians and abortion and it may have done some good. After all, Chicago—”a very pro-life city.”
A Moment of Great Loss
Where were you when you heard the news of the Pope’s death? My wife Ann and I were in Geneva, WI at a wedding when someone who came in late had just heard the news on the radio. The news passed slowly from pew-to pew until it reached the altar by the end of the Wedding so the priest could lead a prayer for the Holy Father at the end of Mass in Geneva WI at Clancy and Elizabeth Ann’s wedding.
We’ll each have our own memory of that moment, because losing Pope John Paul II is a huge loss. It’s hard to realize that John Paul is the only Pope my children ever knew. I have been a Catholic under five popes and remember Pius XII wearing the tiara and being carried above the crowd in a gold chair.
Paprocki Challenges Blagojevich
Our hat is off to Bishop Thomas Paprocki who lectured Governor of Illinois Rob Blagojevich Sunday night, during a service for John Paul at St. Hyacinth’s Basilica. Bishop Paprocki appealed to Blagojevich to rescind his order that compels pharmacists to sell contraceptives, even if they believe the drugs kill the unborn.
“Mr. Governor,” Paprocki said, “out of respect for John Paul II, please respect his wishes and rescind your order. Let our pharmacists be free to follow their faith.” Blagojevich, who was seated near the front, shook hands with the Bishop after mass and said, “I understand. I understand.”
We hope he really understands. Catholic and other moral pharmacists have been threatened by Blagojevich’s order to sell contraceptives and abortifacients even if it violates their moral beliefs, which it should.
Now there’s a Bishop! But let’s see if “there’s a Governor.”