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Switzerland: ‘Pope Jean Paul II is history’

By Doyle Kee
Mission en francophonie

April 20, 2005

The French writer, André Malraux, said the 21st century would either be spiritual or it would not be. If a sign is needed to indicate which direction this century is going, the mediation of the death and burial of Pope Jean Paul II should be sufficient. Regardless of the name or form that is given to it, man is continually seeking company in a journey toward the divine. The pilgrim is hoping each time that in honoring a spiritual, supposedly divine phenomenon, he himself will be transformed.
Whether it is the funeral of a prince or a princess, a major rock concert, or a touted football game, there is the same basic need of being with others, of experiencing strong emotions, and of sharing a common “fellowship” in kinship with the human race. When this happens, it is not a rational gesture. It is not surprising that such an event was produced by the death of the charismatic figure of Jean Paul II. The media did not create this phenomenon, but it certainly did amplify it.
It seems that almost everyone forgot for the moment of the “event” anything that the Pope said or did with which they disagreed. These things are now being recalled as time puts some distance between the phenomenon and with a more clear-sighted analysis of the Pope’s place in history. An “anonymous” member of the World Counsel of Churches, the Protestant Vatican, has already said that no pope of the 20th century did more to oppose the ecumenical movement than did Jean Paul II. He has been pointed out as the most conservative pope of the century and that he was a major obstacle to the reconciliation and tolerance initiated by his predecessor, Pope John III. European Catholic society will return to a way of life completely opposed to what their “Pope” proclaimed as dogma. The spiritual “event” however, connected to the irrational bent of a post-modern age and became, for a time, a reference point in history.
The world will continue to be attracted to the dalaï-lama, oriental forms of spirituality, astrology, spirit channeling, and experiential religious experiences. We can commend Jean Paul II as a man of peace, high moral standards, and as a compassionate man when confronted with human suffering. We can deplore his usurpation of the role of Christ and the imposition of dogmatic human traditions. What we cannot and must not do is neglect the standard by which all our thinking and living is measured, the Word which became flesh and lived among us so that we can live forever with Him.
Doyle Kee is a longtime missionary to French-speaking countries in Europe and Africa. He currently lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland.

Filed under: International Staff Reports

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