Saturday, April 02, 2005

What a pope does

Sometimes a conversation with a person of another generation will blast one into place where one may a view things from a broader perspective. Last night, your blogstress conversed with a young Protestant friend who found herself exasperated by the media's vigil over Pope John Paul II's final hours (or perhaps days). Everybody dies, she said. Why all the fuss?

When your cybertrix launched into a litany of the pope's more impressive attributes--his charisma, his travels, his ferocity--the friend said, "But isn't that just what a pope does? Doesn't that charisma stem from the office itself?"

Suddenly your cybertrix realized that her friend had been born in the year that John Paul took office. She had never known another pope.

No, your Webwench explained, before JPII, we had an introverted, hollow-eyed pontiff whom we knew only as a face, not a personality. Sure, Pope Paul VI had broken the travel barrier, being the first pope to visit the U.S. and, yes, the people had lined the route of his motorcade through Manhattan. But that was just because they had never seen a pope on American soil before.

It wasn't until that conversation that your net-tĂȘte truly understood just how thoroughly Karol Wojtyla had reinvented the papacy.

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