The Pope

I was up this morning at 4:00 am to watch the funeral of John Paul II. I was a bit surprised to see representatives from a variety of world religions seated in the areas reserved for quests. The liturgy was moving, impressive, and awe inspiring – a fitting tribute to this man, I believe. The number of people present and all over the world suggests to me that regardless of what people thought of this man, whether devil, tired old man clinging to power, the Vicar of Christ, or whatever, he had an effect on the world and at least a billion Roman Catholics.
I have not known what to say about his death and everything that has come afterwards. There really isn’t anything I can say that has not been said by so many others. Growing up in a denomination and tradition that was (is) at worst anti-Catholic and at best dismissive of the Pope and Roman Catholicism, I find it remarkable that I am now where I am.
Anglicanism is not considered a valid expression of the catholic faith by most Roman and Orthodox authorities. I really don’t care about that. I am Anglican – not Protestant and not Roman, yet both. We are an expression of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. Our Eucharistic emphasis only supports this, yet we are other than Roman, other than Orthodox, other than Protestant, and I like it that way.
I fear that the fundamentalist movement that is sweeping the world in all the world’s religions will be the undoing of a strong and honest faith, yet the reaction against the liberal attempt to remake religion as “modern,” “humanist,” “reasonable,” “scientific,” and so forth has failed and only fueled the fundamentalist reaction. For me, honest and historic Anglicanism provides a middle way. But even within Anglicanism, we see the fundamentalist response to a swing of the theological pendulum too far to the left. I have always said that Anglicanism is a mechanism that provides balance, and I hope it will survive to continue the Via Media.
The Pope stood strong upon his principles and was unafraid to proclaim a more conservative and traditional understanding of the Christian faith and more specifically Roman Catholicism. For that, I believe people responded to him favorably. Of course, there are those who despise and hate the man and what he stood for, but I believe they are of the group that is becoming more irrelevant in the circles of faith.
I am not Roman; I do not pledge allegiance to the Pope. I do not think the man or the position is infallible; I do not believe the man is the Vicar of Christ. Yet, he does have a special place among world Christianity and a force in the world over.

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