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Saturday, April 2, 2005
A Christian Hero, a Modern Giant Has Left Us

Today is a solemn day for the world; Pope John Paul II has passed away. Surely all good people of the world mourn with the 1.1 billion Catholics whom he led so long and so well.

I am not Catholic, but I don't see why I shouldn't admire a great man who is. I suppose there are people of every religious persuasion, including my own, who believe that anyone who doesn't share their precise species of faith is evil. But, like almost all the religious people I know, I outgrew that childish, narrow-minded bigotry at a fairly early age.

For whatever the thoughts of one opinionated Mormon bishop might be worth on this day, here they are.

I consider John Paul II to have been -- and to be -- a supremely courageous and good man. He's one of my heroes, likely one of the best and most (positively) influential humans to walk the earth in my lifetime. With Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, he personally played a leading role in liberating hundreds of millions of people from the slavery of Soviet communism, and in freeing billions around the world from the fear of attack by that and allied regimes. For that alone I would call him a hero.

But there is more. Besides, by all accounts, being an exceptionally compassionate, articulate, and intelligent man, he had - and still has - moral courage. While most of the Christian world has been busy liberating itself from politically incorrect virtues, such as sexual abstinence outside of (heterosexual) marriage and a decent respect for unborn human life, this Christian leader, among relatively few others, has not wavered.

We are inclined to catalogue our feelings at such moments. Mine are mixed, to wit: sorrow at the passing of such a great and good and holy person; gratitude (aimed in the general direction of heaven) for his life, presence, and influence in the world; expectation, inasmuch as life and personality continue beyond the grave (a pillar of my own faith), that among the Father's many mansions is a particularly glorious one for Karol Jozef Wojtyla; and hope that the cardinals can find an equally remarkable Christian to succeed him in this very challenging time.

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