John Paul II was the Pope of my youth. He inspired me greatly in his life and in his writings. He was the “Pope of the Unborn” and the “Pope of Truth”. For many of us in our 40s, he helped define and shape us as Catholics and also to focus our efforts against what he termed the “Culture of Death” and to build up and promote the “Culture of Life”. For me personally and for many of us pro-life activists, we have devoted much of our lives to answering his call. This was a man that was sent by God to show us the way in an increasingly dark world. And he did that, even to his last days, which perhaps taught us more than all of his magnificent writings.
He wasn’t perfect and there are some legitimate criticisms of how he governed the Church. But none of us can deny his incredible pro-life legacy, his amazing witness, and his rock solid teachings. Like my wonderful wife keeps reminding me, our greatest strengths sometimes are our greatest weaknesses. It’s a great ironic truth. And we should all keep that in mind in assessing his significant legacy, indeed any legacy. He was able to reach as many people as he did because he became the first ever truly metropolitan, universal Pope in the world.
My fondest memory of John Paul II, even tough I had never met him personally, actually occured on Apr.9, 2005, a week after his death. That was the day 15,000-20,000 Canadians assembled on Parliament Hill to support the traditional definition of marriage. I’ll never forget it, really, because that day for me secured the certainty that one day John Paul II would be declared a saint. On April 9 2005, John Paul made an indelible imprint on Parliament Hill as the hundreds of placards bearing his face testified to. To be honest, I was rather taken aback by the display and marvelled at it. I knew instantly that he was with us on the Hill that day, and was more powerful and real than he ever was when he walked this earth. In looking back at it all, even my speech had JPII written all over it, which makes his witness even more personal and remarkable for me.
Something told me that day that he would return to take care of unfinished business in Canada. I firmly believe that when we put a stake through the beast of abortion in this country, it will have a lot to do with John Paul II’s strong arm in heaven doing the pounding.
Below is a wonderful song by Mark Mallet that our family listens to often. I love it. I hope you will love it too.
John Paul II, pray for Canada! Pray for Benedict, your friend and confidant! Pray for me, Steve, and all pro-life activists!