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Well, y'know, the whole thing threw me into a tailspin, quite frankly. There I was, all comfortable and confident and everything about calling myself Lutheran now, and I'd just completely shucked off any affiliation with the Catholic church, and I was too happy to criticize it every chance I could get. Then the Pope died, and all the stories were necessarily focused on his life, of course. I expected that. What I didn't expect was that I would not only learn a few things I just simply didn't know about Karol Wojtyla -- *and* the Catholic church from a global perspective -- I also didn't expect to be awash in nostalgia of my own experience growing up in a little Polish neighborhood, and next thing I knew, I was glued to the TV set watching his funeral, crying like it was my best friend getting buried. And in a way, I suppose he was. The Pope is important to Catholics; John Paul II was far more than just simply 'Pope' to Polish Catholics, and although I'm not Polish, I may as well be, for spending my growing up years in a Polish neighborhood. I can smell a homemade pierogi from a mile away, you betcha! ;)

Oh yeah, and it didn't help that, like ninety million other people, he's the only Pope I've ever known, too. He was elected Pope the day after I turned 6. That's a long time to be knowin somebody.

But, since I distanced myself from the Catholic church for such a long time, and not just because of the sex abuse scandal either, I really knew very little about Pope John Paul II. I never had anything against him, per se; but the more reports I saw and read following his death the more I realized that my rancor towards the church was pretty uninformed and downright ignorant in some ways. It forced me to realize that a) I was dead wrong about some assertions I've made, and b) he and I have a lot more in common than I thought! Mainly his commitment to building bridges, rather than torching them. Among other things.

So I learned the Catholic church in America -- and Catholic schools here, for that matter -- have a long way to go and a lot of work to do before we could even begin to *think* about the kind of reform that seems to be going on around the rest of the Catholic world. One thing that makes me very hopeful: one of the cardinals up for becoming the next Pope happens to have some personal experience with healing the abuses suffered by a sex scandal in the Catholic church in his country too: Austria. Apparently, American and Austrian priests can't keep their hands to themselves, but the Austrian cardinal was "instrumental" in overcoming what the cardinals here just fail miserably at.

However, seeing as sex abuse is so low on the global list of priorites in Rome, that is probably just a pipe dream. He's one of the youngest cardinals, too, 60. He's got my vote.

Too bad I can't vote. ;) Yeah, I know, we were talking about the media, I didn't forget. :) And you are absolutely right, of course they knew better than to act like anything less than the best. But this particular event ... this ranks right up there with 9/11 in terms of magnitude, albeit on the opposite end of the spectrum. In fact, I think it's safe to say that this quite surpasses that. This was more than just a Pope's funeral; this was *proof* that peace is attainable in this world, and it was seen on, not national television, but indeed, global telelvision. And the fact that the media recognized that is a story in and of itself.

In less than a year American media have had three major events (that spring to mind) to report on, including this funeral, and they could just have easily passed the buck. It's exhausting to report on such huge events, you have no idea. First there was Reagan's funeral, then the election. Those weren't one-day events -- Reagan's funeral lasted a week, like the Pope! Now Pope John Paul II dies. They could have just as easily said, "Ho-hum, another cataclysmic event, yadda, yadda, I wonder if they'll let us put room service on the business expense this time?" I mean, why the hell should Katie Couric and Brian Williams care about the leader of the Catholic church?? Or the Polish people gathered in the streets of a little city in Rome?

Because this one man, old and bent with not a penny to his name, trumped what Americans consider Big Names in the last 10 months, and there was no denying that. He not only drew a crowd, look at the crowd he drew!! And in that crowd, including George W. Bush sitting in the same square as the Syrian president, surrounded by 3 million people from all over the world, not a gun was fired, not a protest sign was raised, nobody got voted off the island, *this* was the picture of what some world 'leaders' only talked about, and they conducted themselves like that for two and a half hours. No reality show could even dream of accomplishing that kind of viewership -- for some guy being buried in the Mediterranean equivalent of a pine box!!!

*That's* why I say, kudos to the media. They are experienced and they are good at what they do, and they KNOW a big story when they see one. They could have blathered on and on, they could have interviewed expert after expert after expert, they could have talked themselves hoarse, right on through that funeral, they are not subject to Canon Law. This is probably the only time in your lifetime that you got to witness the media stricken speechless by a funeral. ;) What we all saw that day was a lesson to *all* of us. It has certainly inspired me to be less critical, more proactive about my own life.

*steps down off soapbox* Okay, I'm done now. ;)

I get so carried away because it is so important to me to be understood clearly, especially when I'm talking about things so close to my heart. Sorry if I lost ya there.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2005 02:40 am (UTC)
I learn about Pope in school, you know, and we learn all the good things about him. We even have a Pope action figure! (With karate chop action, for those heathens!)

But, yes, raised Jewish, Popy and I were never that close. -.-() My school choir sang for him in Rome once, but that's as close as I got. But when I heard about some of the things he did - apologizing to Jews for the church's noninvolvement in the holocaust, for example - it was very refreshing. This guy called together large groups of people from all ethnicities and religions for every corner of the world, all for peace. It's hopeful.

Somebody's got a tough act to follow...
Apr. 17th, 2005 01:02 am (UTC)
"Popy and I were never that close."

"Popy" ... that's funny. :)

Well, I'm glad you shared that with me. One of my best friends from high school, someone I still stay in touch with now (what true friends do after high school), was raised as Jewish as I was raised Catholic. I mean, I wasn't friends with her because she was Jewish; y'know? When you're still somewhat young and innocent you make friends based on how people treat you, not based on their family's income or other such nonessentials like that. In fact, sad to say, I think I kind of took it for granted that she was "Jewish"; she was always just my best friend Elana.

My father in his last years alive became very enamored of Jewish religious law. In fact, the nursing home he wound up dying in, he chose it specifically because it was run by Jewish folks, and was in a largely Jewish neighborhood. Mind you, he was a Catholic convert, having been raised Protestant. When I sat down to eat a cheeseburger, he would get after me, saying, "You don't eat dairy with meat!!!"

Uh, hi, I'm a Christian, and last I checked it was okay for me to do that! ;)

I mean no offense by that, I hope you know that!

And also, I didn't mean to sound like I was 'chastizing' you with my response to your comment. After I posted it, went home, slept, woke up the next day and read it, I realized it kind of sounded like I was reprimanding you or whatever. Believe me, you know more about the Catholic church than I currently do; Catholic high schools teach more about that kind of stuff than the grade schools do, and from about 8th grade 'til I was oh, 23, 24, I had no interest in church, Catholic or otherwise, whatsoever.

I just get a little overzealous when I decide to defend somebody, or in this case something, the media. People hate the media, including myself, and for good reason, and I just felt I had to say SOMEthing when they did something "good". :)

Ending transmission.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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