St John Paul II, Pope of the family

ImageThis last weekend was historic. It has been described as the day of 4 Popes. Pope Francis canonised two of his predecessors, Pope John XXIII and John Paul II, while Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was present.

For us in the pro-life movement, the canonisation of Pope Saint John Paul II is particularly special. He was a fearless defender of human dignity, human life, and the family. And his insights into human interpersonal relations, including sexual relations was profound, and has been described as one of the Church’s best kept secrets.

Pope Francis in his Regina Coeli address after told the pilgrims of Bergamo and Krakow “Dear ones, honour the memory of these two holy Popes by following their teachings faithfully.”

St John Paul II’s life was remarkable.

He grew up in the town of Wadowice, Poland. A town with a large Jewish population, some of which he counted as his close friends.

It’s ironic, but the “Pope of the Family” lost all of his family by the time he was twenty. An elder sister died before he was born. His mother died when he was eight years old. His older brother when he was twelve, and finally his father died when he was twenty, leave the future Pope as the only surviving member of his family.

At the time of his father’s death, Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany. He had to take manual labouring work at a mine, and then a chemical factory to avoid being deported. He is also credited with protecting many Jews from the Nazi authorities. It was at this time that he began to feel the call to the priesthood. He started his studies for the priesthood in an underground seminary and eventually had to go into hiding from the Nazi authorities until the end of the war.

As a priest he became popular with young people and as Pope he started World Youth Day, which he and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta are now the patrons. As a bishop, he was involved in Vatican II, and had a role in preparing influential documents for the council. He also published his important book “Love and Responsibility”. As Archbishop he was influential in the writing of the encyclical Humanae Vitae.

He was a walker, runner, kayaker and skier. As a cardinal he was asked if it was becoming for a cardinal to ski, his reply was, “It is unbecoming for a cardinal to ski badly”. He continued to run and weight train in the Vatican during the first few years of his pontificate.

His election as Pope was a surprise. He was the first non-Italian Pope in over 460 years. His energy and achievements as a Pope were outstanding. He travelled to 129 countries and fearlessly preached to all who would listen. Dictatorships fell after his visits, notably in Chile and Haiti and Paraguay. His support for the solidarity movement in Poland was the catalyst that brought down communism in Poland, which started a chain reaction in the eastern bloc countries.

St John Paul II sent out a call to defend life, faith and family before the Cairo conference on Population and Development, and as a result the attempt the make abortion a “human right” failed.

Wherever he went he attracted large crowds, as many as 5 million attended the 1995 world youth day in Manila, the Philippines. His funeral attracted 4 million to Rome, with over 250 000 within the Vatican.

Defence of life, faith and family was his personal mission. His weekly angelus audiences for the first years as Pope were devoted to the “theology of the body”. It’s a teaching that is slowly gaining popularity within the Catholic Church, and recently within other Christian Churches too.

St John Paul II was a priest, Pope, theologian, writer, poet, actor and sportsman. He wrote 14 encyclicals, beatified 1340, canonised 483 and improved relations with Judaism, Islam and other Christian denominations. He was shot and critically injured, but survived, then meet and forgave his attacker.

But he will be remembered as Pope Francis said, “the Pope of the family”.


Why does Cecile Richards want the Pope silenced?

see changeWhy does Cecile Richards want the Pope silenced?  Specifically, why does Planned Parenthood want the Holy See thrown out of the UN?

I was surprised to see the “See Change” campaign surface again. I thought it had died a natural and much needed death years ago, but no, it’s been resurrected.

This is a repeat of the 1999 attempt to remove the Holy See from the UN. The Holy See’s position on the UN was confirmed, and raised to the status of “observer” by the UN General Assembly in 2004. But “’Catholics’ For Choice” are at it again. They have a new campaign, but the same old goal, of stopping the Church speaking out on moral issues. And Planned Parenthood are supporting “Catholics” for choice, although, you have to visit the “See change” website to find that out. It’s nowhere on the Planned Parenthood’s extensive website. That’s very interesting, as Cecile Richards is very skilled in politics. She is the daughter of a former Texas governor, and was the deputy chief of staff to the pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.

She is still very politically active, even appearing on TV advertisements to publicly denounce US politicians for not supporting abortion for rape victims. She’s not so loud about her own organisation’s poor record in performing abortions on women who have been raped, and then failing to report the rape to the police.

So why would she oppose the Holy See’s position on the UN? Especially at a time when we have a Pope who has a very nuanced position on abortion, contraception and same sex marriage?

Cecile Richards knows the same thing we know about Pope Francis. While his position on contraception, abortion and same sex marriage might be nuanced, it’s not soft. He strongly defends the churches beautiful and consistent teaching on these issues, but in a way that engages people, and fills them with enthusiasm for the Church. And to Cecile Richards, that makes the Pope a very dangerous foe. So the fact that the UN has already ruled on the Holy See’s position on the UN isn’t relevant to her. The fact that the UN have left the door open to upgrade their non-voting status is a concern for her. The argument was never really about whether the Holy See have the right to be on the UN. It’s simply about silencing any voice against abortion.

Once again, those who preach the message of ‘tolerance’ the loudest, are often the worst at taking their own advice.