Thirty years ago this month, the Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope. His papacy had a profound impact on the Church and on the whole world. Whether helping to bring about the end of the era of Communist domination in Eastern Europe and Russia or speaking out against the dangers of materialism and the "culture of death", Pope John Paul II proved a worthy successor to the chair of St. Peter, "the Rock". He was firm in his faith and convictions and would not yield, despite overwhelming pressure to do so. He stood AGAINST THE WORLD.
He revolutionized Catholic teaching on sexuality in his Theology of the Body, which author George Weigel referred to as a "theological time bomb". He demonstrated true ecumenism without watering down the teachings of the Church. He canonized more saints than any Pope in history, believing that the modern world needed these examples of holiness. He helped to foster devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and recommended to the Church the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. For all of his accomplishments, he is surely worthy of the name "John Paul the Great".
However, his greatness was not due to the number or magnitude of his accomplishments. It was due to his WITNESS. He defended the truth because he loved the truth. He was beloved by millions, not so much because of who he was but because of who he loved: he radiated the JOY of Christ, the joy of one in love with Christ. And he helped millions, myself included, to see what a wonderful thing God's love is. I believe that not only will he eventually be canonized a saint, but due to the vastness and the impact of his teaching, I believe he will one day be a Doctor of the Church.
Anyway, I'm going to be doing a series of posts on Pope John Paul II, his life, his writings, and what it all means to us today. I will be talking about pro-life issues, the Theology of the Body, and various theological concepts. Stay tuned!
UPDATE:Yes, I liked that picture so much that I put it at the top of the site!