His Final Homily

CRISIS Magazine e-Letter

April 7, 2005


Dear Friend,

In the end, it was a peaceful death. Surrounded by those who knew
and loved him, within earshot of the cheering thousands who came to
be near his broken body, John Paul the Great passed into eternal

With his prolonged suffering and dying, he offered a final homily --
one that even the mainstream media could not ignore. It said this:
Every human life has inherent dignity; every human life is precious;
and even death should be embraced and experienced without shame.

How different that is from what our own culture tells us. We kill
our young, starve our disabled, and hide away our elderly so we're
not confronted with a forward glimpse of our own mortality.

Is it any wonder the secular world never really understood the man?
And so we're told he was the great political warrior who overthrew
communism. That's true, as far as it goes. But the pope's political
activity was simply the manifestation of a profound faith lived in
the world; he was not himself a politician.

And this, for many, seems a contradiction. Indeed, much of John Paul
II's life appears inconsistent to the secular West. He was a celibate
priest who wrote much on the glories of marriage; he advocated
religious freedom while "stifling debate" in his own Church; he was
"progressive" on social issues and "conservative" on moral matters; a
brilliant philosopher/writer/poet who tried to shut down theological
speculation, etc.

In hearing and reading these claims repeatedly the past week, I've
come to conclude that John Paul II is a kind of mirror for the rest
of us. The way we see him tells us far more about ourselves than it
does about him. For this great and holy pope was remarkable not for
his ability to balance opposing forces in his personality, but for
his thoroughgoing consistency. He believed -- as the Catholic Church
has always taught -- that all human life has dignity, and that that
dignity must be reflected in our relations with God, ourselves, and
each other.

His writings, his theological positions, his political activism --
all of it emerged from this fundamental belief. That so many of us
find contradiction in the man shows us how far we have fallen.

May John Paul the Great pray for us all.

Best to you,


P.S. Two brief announcements: First, our office will be closed
tomorrow in honor of the Holy Father's funeral. Second, I've pulled
our May issue and replaced it with a special tribute edition to John
Paul the Great. Unfortunately, because of the time needed to finish
assembling it, the issue won't arrive in your home until mid-May. I
promise, it will be worth the wait. This will be one you'll want to


If you no longer wish to receive the CRISIS e-Letter, please send an

e-mail to mail@crisismagazine.com and write "CANCEL" in the subject



To change your e-mail address, please send an e-mail to
mail@crisismagazine.com with "ADDRESS CHANGE" in the subject line.
Please make sure to tell us your old and new e-mail addresses, so we
make the change.


Please forward this letter to anyone you think might benefit from