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.