I recently discovered that Pope John Paul II was born on the same day as my grandmother. And watching the Pope's health decline so publicly, so rapidly and so markedly, touched me on several levels.
Being Jewish, I never held the Pope as a personal religious inspiration. However, over the last 25 years, and observing his accomplishments -- not only as a clergyman to the world but as a world leader -- especially in his reaching out and conciliation to other world religions, his involvement in the decimation of Communism in the Eastern Bloc, and his peaceful, calming influence on an otherwise violent, chaotic world, is stirring and impressive. He was the first Pope to enter a synagogue as well as the only Pope to enter a mosque. And he was the first non-Catholic to become Pope in 450 years. In short, he was a man of many achievements who did a lot of good -- as much as he could -- in any and all situations, and did so with a message and in the spirit of peace, no matter what he addressed or how violent, turbulent or difficult the issue.
The sound in the background as I'm writing this of the bells of the Vatican announcing the death of a Pope is coupled with a heavy rain here in NYC. I wonder if it's a coincidence, and I wonder where else -- and how heavily -- it's raining right now all over the world.
Editor's Note: One of the HoB faithful alerted me to a mistake I made in describing the Pope as the first non-Catholic to assume that position in 450 years; it should have read "the first non-Italian to become Pope in 450 years." Thanks to P.O. and my apologies. -B-