as a long lapsed catholic i haven’t really paid much attention to john paul 2; save to note he was a conservative who stopped the forces for reform within the church..during his time there has been a reluctance to give abuse claims their due..a reluctance to advance the role of women within the church and society..and within the first world he has overseen a massive drop in church attendance, and priests and nuns leaving in droves…
given that lack of attention, i have been surprised to be moved by the grief of others..
on a lighter note; in 1986 when he visited sydney i was in the process of gutting a four story building in surry hills, turning it into a residence/restuarant…
when i found out the pope was going to be passing by i rolled up a couple of hot ones, told the workers to take a pope-break, and then we all wandered off down the road to check out the pope, as you do..
well, he was in the pope-mobile, and as he passed by us in oxford st his motorcade slowed for some reason, almost coming to a halt..the crowds weren’t heavy there…so his eyes ran over this motley crew of longhaired stoner workmen, red eyes and all..too stoned to wave..
i think we all felt a bit guilty/uncomfortable at/under his steely/sharp/questioning/benign gaze..we were less frivolous/exuberant as we trudged back to our labours..
he was definitly a player..i have also been fortunate enough to be close to nelson mandela on one occaison (he touched me on the shoulder, and smiled at me; i melted, totally, whoar!); so, i reckon i know a player when i see one..
my other pope moment was early this morning..i was scribbling, with the bbc on mute, and the jams’ “that’s entertainment” blasting out at me, when i first saw that footage you’ve all seen by now; of the pope being carried through the crowd and then being tipped up so everyone could see him..
i tell you, try it out; ‘that’s entertainment’ and the walk through/tip..there is a strange synergy there i can’t quite put my finger on..but it’s definitly there..
i really hope the next pope modernises the church, and focuses on issues like poverty and hunger etc, but given john paul appointed most of the cardinals who will vote in his successor, that could be a long shot..