Friday, April 08, 2005

The Funeral of Pope John Paul II

Today I joined with millions of people around the world in the privelage to witness the live TV coverage of the Requiem Mass for Pope John Paul II, a truly historical event in my opinion. I was so moved by what I saw and heard this morning here in Europe that I felt compelled to write just one more piece about this great religious leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Let there be no doubt about it, live broadcast and satellite television remains a very powerful communication medium on Planet Earth despite the increasing gains of the Internet.

Any funeral is a sad occaisson and this one particularly so as one could witness over the last several days the outpouring of grief from the millions of people who were part of his flock and from those of us who respected John Paul II’s leadership and concern for the world. As I stood or sat and watched the funeral I couldn’t help but be impressed by the gathering of thousands and thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, and the 200+ world leaders and dignataries from more than 80 countries, and religious leaders from around the world. Of course the images of the beautiful and historic Vatican itself is enough to impress all by itself, but to see it filled with so much humanity was a powerful experience for many.

Today at the Vatican many leaders from the Four Corners of the Earth were gathered together to mourn this great man. Presidents and prime ministers from 5 continents: from the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, France, Ghana, Turkey, Afghanistan, Italy, the U.S.A., Iran, Syria, Brazil, Australia, Jordan, Spain… and on and on were there. Many of them mortal enemies standing side-by-side to mourn this man (or at least to be seen on international TV). Kings and queens and other royalty and world dignataries seated side-by-side. Leaders of the world’s great religions who throughout history have waged wars against one another that were so bloody and horrible it is improper to describe them here, gathered together to offer their condolences and prayers to John Paul II. They didn’t look so mighty and powerful today with their heads bowed in sorrow against the backdrop of the ancient Vatican surrounded by that sea of humanity from around the world mourning for the Pope, did they?

I was wondering to myself as I watched if they really understood as leaders of our world what kind of responsibility they carry for all of us everywhere on this Earth? ...for the weak as well as the strong, the poor as well as the rich, the sick as well as the healthy? If these political and business and religious leaders are committed to the meaning of faith and prayer and the recognition of good in all of humanity, as the Pope tried so hard to show us with his own life and service to God?

Looking at the faces of all of those people today gathered in St. Peter’s Square to mourn the passing of the Pope helped me to re-confirm not only my own faith in God (which gets a little shakey at times, I’ll admit it) but also in humanity itself and especially in those people who so desperately need our help. I hope that I can hold onto that conviction real tight until my own passing, and I hope that at least some of our world leaders present at the Vatican today were moved in similar ways and better understand these very important facts:

FACTS: Humanity is crying out for peace and justice and dignity so that people can get on with the important business of building a better world for everyone. The majority of people around the world want to live in peace and be good neighbors and friends, to be united in our humanity and not be divided by war and violence for political gains or misused through greed and corruption for money and other material wealth.END FACTS

If our leaders and we ordinary citizens of the world can keep these important facts always in the forefront of our thoughts and our actions, humankind will truly make it to the Kingdom of Heaven someday. And if we fail to do so, we will all most certainly perish from this Earth.

Those are some impressions I come away with after watching the Pope’s requiem funeral mass. May John Paul II rest in peace under the glorious Dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral for as long as a thousand generations, so that others who follow us may come to learn about his great works in our time in the history of humankind on this Earth.

Here are some additional online resources about Pope John Paul II’s funeral for my readers:

1. BBC News online
coverage of the funeral
2. BBC News photo essays of the funeral
3. BBC News Timeline of the Popes throughout history: note that the 3 African Popes are mysteriously missing in the timeline but are noted in this BBC article. Also reference comments made to my earlier posting on John Paul II. My readers are the “The First to Know What’s Up”.
4. BBC's
thoughts and views about the Pope from around the world
5. Google News links to online media
coverage of the Pope’s funeral

CNN’s coverage was so lousey today they don’t even get an honorable mention. Somebody oughta tell the CNN U.S. reporters they need to shut up when a requiem mass is in progress and stop trying to score career points. At least Christiane Ammanpour knew when to shut up and when to talk. CNN needs a shakeup from the top down. Bring back Ted Turner now.

1 comment:

Brian said...

"Humanity is crying out for peace and justice and dignity so that people can get on with the important business of building a better world for everyone."

No no, you don't understand. When President Bush speaks of a 'culture of life,' he doesn't mean for everyone. He only means 'culture of life' when it can be used as a political advantage for his party.

Apparently, a woman in a vegetative state has a 'right to nutrition,' but poor people, be they American or African, do not.