Pope John Paul II passed away today, a very sad moment for his followers. Of course, he had lived a very long life & deserved a respite from the suffering he has experienced the last few years. I am completely torn by how I feel about him. I agreed with his stance on the war in Iraq and on the death penalty, but as a liberal and a woman, I am in complete disagreement with him in his stance on women priests, abortion, birth control, etc.
As I was watching the coverage on tv this afternoon & tonight, I remembered being home sick from school on the day he was shot. Also, I remembered eagerly following the news when Lech Walesa was leading the Solidarity movement in Poland. As a teenager, I was fascinated by the courage of the workers in standing up against the power of their Communist gov't. I wondered if I could ever have the courage to do what those people were doing, standing up for my rights/beliefs. I remember how the pope spoke out in support of the workers and against communism.
I am completely fascinated by the rituals involved in burying this pope and electing, or selecting, a new one. I do remember when John Paul II was elected. Although my family was not Catholic, we did pay attention to the news and watched the reports, waiting for the white smoke to appear. Actually, I'm fascinated by all the rituals of the Catholic Church. When my mom passed away, I wanted some kind of ritual, like lighting candles or last rites. I couldn't understand why, after all I am not Catholic and have never had any desire to be. Perhaps I thought rituals would have kept my mind occupied, & I wouldn't have to think about the loss of my mom.
I know I will be watching the news a lot in the next several weeks.