Pope John Paul II a great man

Published 6:32 am Monday, April 4, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
As this is written late Friday evening, Pope John Paul II is fighting for his life in his Vatican apartment.
John Paul II has occupied the Vatican (or the Holy See) since his election as Pope in 1978. Angels &Demons, a book by Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, lists the average term of a pope at six years.
Not only has this pope outlasted most by 20 years, he has been far more active and in many ways far more influential.
Many conservatives like to credit Ronald Reagan for the fall of communism, and with good reason, but many more Roman Catholics believe John Paul II was far more instrumental in its fall.
He was a native of Poland, and was nearly deported to Germany during the Nazi occupation during the Second World War. After the war's end, he received his ordination and was sent to Rome to work as a priest.
The Pope was considered so dangerous by Communist authorities, in fact, that Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who attempted to assassinate him in 1981 was later linked to the KGB. His visits to his native home in Poland are often credited with the fall of Communism in that nation.
He was fluent in a number of languages, somewhere around 90 if memory serves, and was able to speak to his parishioners in almost any tongue.
A radio station was discussing the effect his death would have, and the consensus was that it would be akin to the death of a president. This is vastly understating the effect. The President of the United States has approximately 260 million people who would be affected by his death, whereas the Pope has over one billion parishioners spread throughout every single nation on this earth would mourn.
John Paul II spread the Gospel throughout the world, and preached of charity, grace, and mercy. His messages against Communism throughout the 1980s and the many canonizations (making someone a saint) he presided over during the 1990s made headlines everywhere. He even visited Cuba a few years back, but thus far his overtures there have not produced the effect they had on Central Europe.
While many readers may disagree with the basic tenets of Catholicism, this writer included, but to not respect the efforts of this great man would be to completely misunderstand the influence he has had throughout the world. He served an example for Christ to many people, and have no doubt Christ will be pleased with his faithful servant.
Tim Cottrell is a staff reporter for the Atmore Advance.

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