One of the giants of the twentieth century is dead.
Karol Wojtyla was a man of salt and light, who took the Gospel message throughout the world, even to nations that opposed his very existence. He fought against the culture of death as an eloquent spokesman for the unique value of every human life. He was a suffering servant for Mankind, with his eyes always on heaven and earth at the same time.
I will speak as a Catholic first, as a conservative second.
He embodied the faith. That might sound grandiose, but it is not. He spoke of the things of heaven and earth interchangeably and yet in their proper spheres. He stood time and again for the weakest among us, and reminded us that we have duties to them beyond mere lip service. He called evil by its right name, but reminded us that evil is parasitic on good; that evil is merely separation from God, and that all that will right itself through the power of Christ in the end.
While never giving in to a distortion of the Gospel, he reminded us that Christianity carries with it a radical preference for the poor. No fan of communism, and never enthralled by socialism, yet never opposed to capitalism, he nevertheless reminded us that capitalism is not inherently good, and frequently produces unjust results. He reminded us that our portion in this world is charity.
He fought the willful slaughter of millions of defenseless children as surely as he fought the murder of the aged and infirm. He was called tyrant, murderer, oppressor, theocrat, and words a thousand times worse, but he never once yielded to anger in their face. He was called a reactionary by those opposed to him, even as he built and expanded on the infallible theology of Vatican II. He was accused of misunderstanding human sexuality while he developed the most fluent theological doctrine on the matter in the history of the Church. For his contributions to the Faith alone, he should be canonized as a Doctor.
So great has been his leadership that the dream of a united Church is now no longer merely a dream.
I speak now as a conservative. He fought the Soviet Union, undeniably one of the most evil things Men have ever wrought, not with arms, but with faith and words and moral clarity. There is a reason the KGB wished him dead in the 1980s: He was one of the greatest threats they ever faced, merely for demanding that the words of a 2,000 year dead carpenter be taken seriously.
He reminded the world that there is strength in tradition, and there is value in every human life. He gave those of us on the Right moral strength to continue in the harshest of times, while nevertheless reminding us of our own failings.
We lose a suffering servant of God and Man today. We are poorer for it. He is infinitely richer.
Update [2005-4-1 22:30:27 by Thomas]: I want to add something I neglected to add before, for which I thank God too infrequently. While there are those who play up (and in some cases misattribute) the less than perfect treatment the Church has accorded our spiritual forebears, there is no way to deny that grievous things have been done to Jews throughout the years since Christ was put on the Cross, with Christian apathy, support, or outright act. Vatican II began the process of atonement and reconciliation. This Pope, while not completing the process, has reminded us that we Christians would not be but for our Older Brothers, and that God doesn't make promises he goes on to break. It would be easy to say that his prayer at the Wailing Wall, racked with pain every step of the way, was a way of atoning for the sins of Christians against Jews throughout the centuries; but it is more than that. It was a reminder that all Christians owe that pilgrimage, at some level, for those we wounded, and for ourselves.
As a Catholic, as a conservative, and as a human being, I tell you this: Be thankful for this, if nothing else.
REQUIESCAT IN PACE
Update [2005-4-1 13:50:54 by trevino]:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness...." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Pope John Paul II has passed, but his legacies of faith and freedom remain in the world. In this time of sorrow and reflection, it falls upon us to honor the fallen and the principles which guided him.
In that spirit, the editors of RedState honor the life of Karol Wojtyła by encouraging our readers to take a moment today to support the work of two
organizations that carry on the Holy Father's legacy.
Priests for Life is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted with a mission directly informed by the late Pope's devotion to the culture of life:
"[To assist] clergy and laity to fight the culture of death ... to unite and encourage all in the Church to give special emphasis to the
life issues in their ministry ... and to help them take a more vocal and active role in the pro-life movement!"
They carry on his passion for the defense of the defenseless through the hands, feet, and hearts of his Church -- and its allies of all faiths. You can make your donation here.
In remembrance of the Pope's extraordinary efforts to secure freedom for all the nations of the world, we also encourage you to support the Victims of Communism Memorial.
"The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization, was established by an Act of Congress to build a memorial in Washington, DC to commemorate the more than 100 million victims of communism; to honor those who successfully resisted communist tyranny; to educate current and future generations about communism's crimes against humanity; and to pay tribute to those who helped win the Cold
You can support their work here.
Please note that this represents our desire to memorialize the life and work of a great man. Neither organization has asked us to do this, and neither should be construed as willfully profiting from this tragedy.
Bless you for your generosity -- and don't forget to add your $0.02.