Peggy Noonan extols the virtues of Pope John Paul II. As Peggy explains, the Polish-born pope was committed to closer relations with Judaism, frowned on rapacious capitalism, and hated war, which John Paul claimed was “always a defeat for humanity.” Read here from Peggy Noonan, on the eve of Pope John Paul’s canonization, about his radiant goodness, triumphs and, in the end, his suffering.
Everyone keeps talking about the Francis Effect. The pope has captured the world’s imagination with his warmth, apparent merriness and palpable affection for those who are poor and imprisoned, in whatever way—jail, loneliness, illness, disability. An American cardinal smiles and shakes his head when he tells me that nowadays his seminaries are full. A hotel clerk shares with brimming joy that he has a picture of his daughters with Francis, “and we are not like him—we are Buddhist.” Everyone still has a favorite Francis moment—the time he stopped to kiss the man whose head was covered with growths and tumors, or the telephone calls to strangers. He continues to wade into crowds like a man with a very human need for other humans. His security guards must be beside themselves. In fact there is a new subtext in the Francis conversation: People worry about him now. The assumption: A man this good, if he tries to do what he’d like to do, will be in danger.
After Francis, the conversation of the pilgrims in Rome—three million are expected for this weekend’s canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, and already at night the streets of Parione are like Mardi Gras—turns to something else, to two words. Everyone says them sooner or later, remembering the electric moment in April 2005 when John Paul died and four million people engulfed Rome.
“Santo Subito!” they chanted at his funeral. Make him a saint—immediately.
What a moment. Cynical old men in the Vatican were amazed, then irritated. No one had invited the millions, who had shown up spontaneously, clogging the streets and sleeping on sidewalks. No one had asked them to say anything—they were nobodies, they weren’t giving the eulogy. No one expected them to give the church an order.
But they did.
Originally posted April 24, 2014.