Our readers have been talking about Pope John Paul II since Beliefnet began. Find out what they think about his contributions to the Catholic Church and to the world--and post your own thoughts.

Personal Encounters Good for the Church? His Teachings John Paul in History Multifaith Views Why We Love Him

Personal Encounters

I met [Pope John Paul II] twice. Back in 1995 I was a seminarian studying for the priesthood and myself and my classmates got invited from Philadelphia to New York to say evening prayer with the pope. When we got there, we figured that we would sit in the back since we were not New York Seminarians but got a surprise when we were ushered up to the front of the seminary chapel. I got a seat right in front only about twenty feet from the pope.

On the way out after evening prayer he came over to me and took my hand to shake it. I was in shock, and after he said something to me, I really was in shock and awe. His handshake was firm and strong. He seemed overjoyed to meet with seminarians and other young people. It was a great experience to actually hold his hand in mine and get to speak (if only for a moment) with the successor of Peter on earth!

[January 2003] I got really, really lucky last month and got a front row seat at a papal audience. From what I saw, the energy and intellect were still there in full force; the Holy Father seemed more like a handicapped person than an ill one. He still has plenty of work on his plate that he intends to get through before he leaves us. Let's hope he is successful.

I just recovered from the events of [World Youth Day]. It was exhausting. I never was a big Pope fan though I respect the man. He surprised me completely. I'm not sure if TV picked up the dynamic between him and the participants - it was electric.

The Pope's address on the Beatitudes was brilliant and appropriate. An aging old man in pain reached out to the young whose pain is less visible yet no less real.

[In early 2002] I had an audience with the Holy Father. He came in, kissed babies, spoke, and blessed us. He is obviously old and suffers from Parkinson's, but he is clear-headed and alert. I certainly felt joy at being there and seeing him. Ad multos annos Santo Padre. Viva il papa.

I was there for the Mass in Toronto; it was a thrilling, beautiful experience of faith and prayer. It moved me to see how the pope is still actively pursuing his ministry despite his failing health. He keeps on going because he is convinced this is what God wants him to do for now. I can't verify this, but someone told me that when he was asked why he didn't retire, John Paul said, "Christ didn't ask to be taken down from the cross."


Post Your Thoughts

Has He Been Good for the Church?

I think the Pope has been good for the Church and the world. His fervent travel schedule to the Third World in particular has signaled to the rest of us that the church is multicultural and needs to be embraced. Regarding his impact on the world, his multi-week journeys in Poland during the Cold War certainly helped spark that nation's political and cultural re-awakening. For me, whilst the Pope is not perfect, he has been a compassionate and passionate leader and has been a good shepherd.


Post Your Thoughts

I believe that John Paul II has been a great pope for the world, but...the jury is still out on whether he has been good for the Church.


He was the perfect pope for the Cold War and was instrumental with the fall of the iron curtain. However, I believe that with his background in faithful Poland, he does not quite grasp the varioius problems in the church. The loss of Spanish America to Protestant sects, the growing liberal modernist movement preaching moral relativism, and other heretical teachings. These are problems that the pope has done little to address.

Someone here mentioned that it is insane that the pope is pursuing ecumenism with Protestant churches whose deviations have taken them beyond the point of no return. The most important task will be to unify our own church. The success of this task will be dependent on the next pope.

JPII handled the [pedophilia scandal] pretty well as a manager, I'd say. When people under my authority make mistakes I give them a chance to fix the problem themselves, and that is what he did. He called the American Cardinals to Rome - which rarely has happened if ever - and told us that it's our problem and it was up to fix it and that they would back our solution. Now that was a first. When has the Vatican allowed any conference of bishops to decide its own solution and pledged to support that solution?

Sure, the Pope has not acknowledged some problems we have, but he has sure made a lot of progress to better humanity. Besides, what can be done to promote a fatherly figure? He cannot mobilize an army to enforce this. Instead, he has given us numerous blessings and placed numerous prayers for us all. He cannot make everything better just because some people see him as the representative of God on Earth...He has been a great Pope and an inspiration to many people.

The Pope has also been great for the Church. Check out George Weigel's biography, *Witness to Hope*, to see why. His fundamental message--that we only find ourselves in a sincere gift of self to God and man--has yet to be fully internalized in the West. But when it is, the "re-evangelization" of the West will commence.


Post Your Thoughts

From Poland to Rome: John Paul II in History

John Paul II is a great pope and a great man. He has confronted the evils of Nazism and communism face to face. He played a major role in the downfall of communism in Poland and the former Soviet Union.

He is not trying to drag the church back to the Middle Ages as some claim. He is trying to restore the Catholic nature of the church...If you can't admire him as a Pope at least admire him as a great man.

John Paul II will be remembered primarily as the catalyst for the dissolution of the Eastern Block. I'm sorry, but as a theologian he leaves much to be desired. He would have stood out as powerful and first-rank leader of influence of the 20th century if he had passed from the scene early in the 1990s.


Post Your Thoughts


You have a pope who was almost a martyr, helped to free countries from the clutches of Communism, and apologized for past sins of the Church.

The Holy Father has...shown us tremendous compassion by his forgiveness of the man who shot him and his continued relationship with this man.


Post Your Thoughts


The Pope in the Life of the Church

As a church leader he will be remembered not as a pope who tried to keep a balance between the right-wingers and the left-wingers (as is the plight of every pope) but made the right side so strong that almost a revolution is going on here in Europe. He totally ignored the "spirit" of Vatican II and drove the church right into a storm. He had his greatness in the political field, not in the church field.

The more "liberal" element must scratch their heads and...seem unable to appeal to the young (the liberal establishment ages and dwindles), while this "traditional" Pope seems able to generate real enthusiasm for Christ and the Gospel.

And as the youth cry out everywhere he goes: "John Paul Two, We love you!"

The decline of The Church which began, and was acknowledged by Pope Paul VI, has only accelerated under the current Pope. Seminaries continue to close, sodomites have increasingly infiltrated the ranks of the priesthood, belief in the real presence has dropped right along side of Mass attendance. How does this reflect a "Great" Pontificate? The Church is virtually dead in Europe, and quickly heading that way in North America.

How can any Pope govern a church, create the saintly realm, deal with law suits, pedophiles, technical progress in the secular world, cloning, and all that "evilness" of the world... How can any Pope deal with that and maintain a faith? Who knows. The guy has stamina though - and a pretty colorful character to boot. I say he'll be remembered for a long while to come.


Post Your Thoughts

Multifaith Views of the Pope

As a LDS...I believe he is the greatest spiritual leader in your Congregation, (you have ever had!) I support him 100%. A man of great faith and vision for his flock. Just follow his counsel and all will be well with you! A True servant of Jesus Christ.

I think that the Pope has done some great things, but I am greatly distressed that he has said that Protestant Churches are flawed churches, especially since the Catholic church has done many terrible things over the past 2000 years.

The Pope is eager to unite other religions with the Catholic Church, but he doesn't even try to unite his own Church...He prays with other religions that aren't even Christian. He calls the Muslim religion a religion of peace, when history shows this to be the exact opposite, especially towards the Catholic Church.

I am a Protestant (so far) and after reading a large cross section of his encyclicals I am convinced that this Pope is the greatest theologian/philosopher in the last 100 years. God Bless.

Post Your Thoughts

The Impact of His Teachings

John Paul II has faithfully taught and brilliantly explicated the essential doctrines, the revelation received from Jesus Christ. He has urged prayer, sacramental life, and care of neighbors. He has addressed many of the modern crises: the weakening of the family, oppressive governments and economic systems, attacks on life, and excessive rationalism.

It is the pope's job to make sure that [Catholics] have no reason to be confused about what the Church teaches and what the disagreement is and to call them to accept God's truth. I think John Paul II has done that.

The Pope realizes that church teaching on abortion lacks credibility unless it is based on the sacredness of human life. In the past this has not been emphasized, and the Pope also knows that many Catholics still approve of capital punishment. Consequently, he makes frequent statements that capital punishment is unacceptable.

I must say that after reading JPII's explanation of the relationship of contraception with abortion, it turned my ideas on the innocence of contraception.

John Paul II is a great Pope...but he failed on women. His biggest mistake was the "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis." I hope the future Pope would derrogate such document and reopen the discussion of women [in the] priesthood.

Post Your Thoughts

It troubles me that the Pope is so very strongly opposed to a war in Iraq, especially considering the human atrocities that have happened there. The Pope's stance caused me to give this matter more prayer and thought because I have yet to find even one time when the Pope was wrong.

I love the Pope. But the dead of Kuwait and the women and children of Iraq who suffered injustice and death at Saddam's whim might just disagree. ...Just War theory is inadequate. For conventional warfare it is wonderful. For terrorist/guerrilla warfare I don't see its application as clearly.

I have not admired the Pope more than I do at this current time. His stance on the [Iraq] war is both vital and well-founded.

Sometimes I question his teaching, but my faith is fragile while his is rock solid.

Post Your Thoughts

Why We Love Him

I think he's a living saint. I hope to see him in heaven.

The Holy Father is our faith personified. He is a great teacher, and has shown us by his example what it really means to walk in faith with Our Lord everyday. The light of Christ shines through him and to anybody who has watched him, met him, etc. No other Pope in my lifetime has reached out to so many or traveled outside of Rome as much. No other Pope that I can remember has been so inclusionary of our other brothers and sisters, as well as other faiths. No other Pope has been so accessible through his travels. He stands for peace, love, life and forgiveness, just as Jesus did. I know he'll be canonized one day, but in the meantime, let's celebrate his life and teachings.

I love Pope John Paul II. He has been a great influence in my life since I was a child, and has been an inspiration to the world.

He is truly the Vicar of Christ. He is the greatest man of our time; I feel so privileged to live during his papacy. He is a living saint and I love him dearly.

The Pope is a great man and will be remembered as a unique figure within salvation history, sort of a Moses. In fact, I am willing to bet that not only will he be named a Saint but he will also be titled "the Great". Second, the role of Mary in this Papacy will also be deemed incredible. Just to name one example the attempted assassination of this Pope was on the anniversary of Fatima.

John Paul II is such an inspiring role model...A defender of life, love, respect, a great man who loves youth and brings them closer to God, his real love. W IL PAPA!

Post Your Thoughts

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad