30 years….

Who can forget?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. He told us to “Be not afraid!”

    And he was right.

    Eternal memory!

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  2. Daniel says:

    If only we could.

    Long live Pope Benedict

  3. Jackie says:

    Awww I still miss him. I was born 3 years into his pontificate. My friends and I call ourselves the JP2 Generation. What a great pope.


  4. Emilio says:

    Santo subito!

  5. Geoffrey says:

    Ioannes Paulus Magnus, ora pro nobis!

  6. Jon says:

    I was a high school junior, sitting in trigonometry class. Father Dave Scheider, my principal, got on the loud speaker. “Habemus papam!” He gave us the name of the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow.

    My teacher, Father Frank Kowaleski, in a rush of Polish pride, had us all rise, and pray the Salve Regina.

  7. Andy K. says:

    I can. Perhaps… because I’m 21.

    What I won’t forget, is being glued to the television upon his death, and following every little bit of news that came.

    I like to think that, because of his death, I’m the orthodox/devout Catholic I am today. (My interest in the Church became very big then, and I started pursuing the reading of numerous Catholic things).

  8. SARK says:

    Surely JPII’s reign coincided, objectively speaking, with a period of decline and destruction in the western Church the like of which had never seen before.


  9. tradone says:

    God have mercy on his soul.

  10. SC says:

    Fr. Z,
    Thanks for the memories! I still tear up when I hear his voice on recordings! I do not understand the comments against him. Just a question for those who have such negative feelings about JPII. How will you two feel when you face Jesus one day? It might help to remember HE chose him to sit in Peter’s chair. I for one miss him. I love Pope Benedict too!

  11. SARK says:

    Dear SC,

    When considering the recent history of the Church surely we must try to use our head as well as our hearts. JPII’s decision (allbeit under pressure almost certainly) to play hardball with Archbishop Lefebvre despite the very obvious state of necessity and the need for traditional bishops was a seminal moment in the current crisis of the Church. We should all pray for his soul and the souls of all the fathful departed. JPII RIP.


  12. Ohio Annie says:

    When I travel alone I am nervous and I wear my John Paul II “Be Not Afraid” t-shirt. It reminds me to be not afraid and other people ask me where I got it. I will never forget John Paul II. He was Pope when I decided to convert and he was instrumental in my beginning to take the Church seriously. It was his peaceful manner that did it maybe. Or the way he handled the assassination attempt. Or many other things.

    He was also the model of redemptive suffering for me as my disability and pain increase. There can be no earthly possibility of cure so I look to JPII’s example, among other people.

    Benedict XVI is my current favorite Pope! I hope he enjoys many years of good health. I love his writings. So concise, clear and forceful.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    I agree with SC. Well said! I am trying to make a conscious effort to ignore the arch-traditionlist detractors.

    I think I’ll pop in my CD of Solemn Mass in St. Peters for the 1986 Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul with music from the Mozart’s “Coronation Mass”. The track of John Paul the Great chanting the Preface is very moving. :-)

  14. Jason says:

    “In your…in OUR Italian language.”

  15. Coletta says:

    I love John Paul II. I am praying for his speedy canonization. When people say bad things about him remember that one day you will have to be taking those words back.

  16. TJM says:

    Sark, I don’t know what planet you’re living on. The decline of the Western Church began long before John Paul II was elected pope.
    If you’re speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, the decline was well under way during the pontificate of Paul VI. I’d say objectively,
    that John Paul II stopped the slide and paved the way for the pontificate of Benedict XVI whose reign will result in further recovery for
    the Church occasioned by the misinterpretation and disastrous implementation of the documents of Vatican II. Tom

  17. Emilio says:

    The detractors of our beloved late Pontiff are surely not obligated to understand and reflect upon the great gift that his extraordinary life was to the Church and to the world, but those of us who do (today especially) can go home tonight and pray sincerely for his intercession on their behalf. I understand that many traditional Catholics have suffered great injustices at the hands of some within the Church – but to scapegoat one saint of a man for the sins of others won’t do much to heal the pain and frustration that is very real for some, myself included. It’s so easy to forget just who it was who called Joseph Ratzinger to serve in the Roman Curia, the same man who wouldn’t allow him to retire and return to Bavaria- the three times he tried to.

  18. PuxaXixon says:

    Upon death, history is revised, unfortunately discounting the faults.

  19. PuxaXixon says:

    “…that John Paul II stopped the slide and paved the way for the pontificate of Benedict XVI…”

    Was my point just proven?

  20. Mark says:

    I’ve always admired the way Pope John Paul II engaged with the communists, thus greatly contributing to the demise of their inhuman system. Much of what he said and wrote to the Church and the world acquires an additional meaning when combined with the knowledge of this background.

    For those of you who know his native tongue, the book “Teczki Wojtyly” (Woytyla’s Files), published in 2003, is a must read. Among the many documents in this book, his psychological profile (written by his adversaries), offers a rare glimpse into the minds and methods of the true enemies of Christ and His Church.

  21. Padre Steve says:

    Can it be that long ago already!?

  22. Yeps, this day 1978…my connection..being born on this day 7 years later.

  23. miss book says:

    JP2 The Great!
    I love him; on earth he was a Shepherd who suffered greatly in the name of Truth and for his flock.Who can forget how he reached out to the young, the future of the Church, and willed us to ‘Be not Afraid’.

    He saw what needed to be done to lay the foundations for the renewal of Faith on earth, starting with the young, for whom he had a special love.He set the scene for our Holy Father, Benedict, all according to the Will of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.In Heaven, please God, he is praying and advocating for us all.

    Long live Pope Benedict, now gloriously reigning, God’s chosen successor to the See of Rome.

  24. Bryan says:

    I can’t forget. I was standing on the roof in the ABC Radio broadcast position handling
    the audio feed back to NY.

    He was, most certainly, an amazing man, and ideal for the job.

    In memoriam.

  25. SARK says:

    Dear TJM,

    I don’t think I said that JPII initiated the decline and destruction – just that his reign coincided with it.

    Sorry by Western, I meant, Western European, and surely in terms of any general objective index of the health of the Church (conversions, baptisms, vocations etc) the decline was quite extraordinary during his watch. This seems self evident.

    Either by error of ommission or commision JPII had some responsibility for this state of affairs.

    He may or may not have been a holy man (that is for God to decide) – but he was not a very effective Pope. We are yet to see whether the current Holy Father will be any more effective.

    It all comes down to the salvation of souls in the final analysis.


  26. Geoffrey says:

    What was it like back then? Was there a big deal made because he wasn’t Italian? Did media pundits immediately think of what this would mean for the Cold War? I ask because I wasn’t born then!

  27. TJM says:

    Sark, By any reasonable measure, the Church was in a serious state of decline by the time John Paul II reached the pontificate.
    It’s kind of like a bear stock market. Once it begins it’s slide, it takes a while to hit bottom. The slide began in Paul VI’s reign but I believe it
    hit bottom early in John Paul’s pontificate and then began its gradual ascent. Them’s the facts. You must be young and did not live through the disaster that was Paul VI’s pontificate, whom I refer to as the Jimmy Carter of Catholicism, well-intended, but a ditherer who could not take firm action. I always found it amazing that John Paul II was able to halt the slide. He was intimately involved in the ultimate destruction of Communism and inspired a young generation of men to become priests. I shudder to think what might have happened to the Catholic priesthood if he hadn’t come along when
    he did. Tom

  28. Michael J says:

    Sorry Tom, them aint facts, them are speculations and gratuitous assertions.

    I in no way mean to detract from John Paul II’s pontificate, but if you want others to share your belief that he somehow “saved” the church, you’ll have to be a bit more concrete.

  29. prof. basto says:

    Pie Iesu Domine, dona ei requiem.

  30. Jordanes says:

    PuxaXixon said: Was my point just proven?

    No, because it is history, not history revisionism, that John Paul II “stopped the slide and paved the way for the pontificate of Benedict XVI.” It doesn’t mean he never made mistakes, or that all of his decisions were always prudent or effective, or that he wasn’t sometimes guilty of some serious omissions. During his pontificate, the Barque of Peter was turned to avoid the rocky shoals it was heading towards, and the long task of repairing and rebuilding was begun.

    Geoffrey asked: What was it like back then? Was there a big deal made because he wasn’t Italian? Did media pundits immediately think of what this would mean for the Cold War? I ask because I wasn’t born then!

    Yes to both of your questions. If you’d like to get a feel for those things, look up Woodward and Politi’s book, “His Holiness,” and of course you should also read the revelant portions of George Weigel’s 1,000-page biography of John Paul II, “Witness to Hope.”

  31. Mark says:

    Geoffrey, with respect to JP II and the Cold War:

    I was a teenager then – what I remember was that the Western media had to scramble a bit to get the biographical information on Karol Wojtyla. At that time, that part of the world was somewhat of a terra incognita. From my own research, I understand that the reaction on the other side of the Iron Curtain was the opposite. Kremlin and its allied dictatorships immediately realized the implications of this choice, and began to counteract the fallout. The captive peoples also realized these implications, and hope began to sprout in their hearts, however tentatively.

    I never got the impression that most of the Western pundits understood what this choice meant for the Cold War, because, in my opinion, many were in denial as to the true nature of communism. But there were exceptions – William Buckley was one of them.

    To be fair, I also got the impression that even those who knew what this struggle was about, never dreamed that the outcome would be this miraculous. I humbly include myself in this group. I’ve come to believe this: there were several actors in this drama, namely John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachov, but its Director and Author was the Holy Spirit. To Him goes all the credit and honor, others may have a share in it.

  32. Charivari Rob says:

    Geoffrey – “What was it like back then? Was there a big deal made because he wasn’t Italian? Did media pundits immediately think of what this would mean for the Cold War? I ask because I wasn’t born then!”

    If I recall correctly, the ‘non-Italian’ factor was big news. First non-Italian in over 400 years, wasn’t he?

    I don’t recall the Cold War angle being emphasized at the time, but I was only 9 years old myself.

    I find myself remembering more of the death of Paul VI and the selection of JPI. They happened during summer vacation (at least Paul’s death and funeral did) and I remember my parents practically commanding us to stay inside (in summer!) and watch TV (!!) for hours on end(! ! !). The coverage from Rome of the funeral seemed to go on for 3 days.

    When JPI passed away so soon, I remember that school was in session, so much less time to stay home and watch.

    I do remember reading in some biography that (the eventual) JPII was quite relieved that the conclave resulted in JPI becoming Pope. There were apparently rumors at the time that he (Karol) was a serious candidate in some peoples’ minds. Karol was quite happy to go home to Poland and figured that, God willing, it would be many years before he would have to (if he had to) face the prospect again. Does anyone recall if that’s accurate?

  33. Paul says:

    His scandalous actions (Assisi, venerating the Quran) and his ambiguous teachings should ensure that he isn’t canonized.

    JP2’s cult is strong today, but if Pope Benedict and his succesors have the wisdom to put off his canonization for at least 50 years, people will gain a clearer perspective on his destructive pontificate untainted by emotional attachment. There is not a single period in the Church’s history in which a Pope presided over the loss of more souls.

  34. Mark says:


    I think you should get a more balanced perspective of this Pope. Care to quantify your assertions?

  35. Geoffrey says:

    Thank you to those who did for answering my questions!

    “His scandalous actions (Assisi, venerating the Quran)…”

    I figured it would be only a matter of time before someone brought this up. I highly recommend Cardinal Dziwisz’s book “A Life with Karol”. It has some fascinating “behind the scenes” insights regarding Assisi in Chapter 30.

  36. Jason says:

    but he was not a very effective Pope.

    What makes an effective Pope? I would say the basic criteria for a Pope is whether he was a faithful witness to Jesus Christ. By that criteria, there will be a long line of souls on the last day who will be lined up to thank Pope John Paul II for leading them to Christ and to the Church. I will (hopefully) be among them.

  37. M.D. says:

    I would just recommend that before anybody criticizes the Holy Father to stop and think; “you are about to criticize the Holy Father.” What do you know about having the pressure of the entire Church on your shoulders? Criticize with respect! This man is going to be canonized a saint one day and there is nothing anyone can do about that because the directive comes from Rome via God!

  38. Jordanes says:

    Paul said: There is not a single period in the Church’s history in which a Pope presided over the loss of more souls.

    A rash assertion that is simply impossible to substantiate. To make such a statement requires one to put one’s self in God’s place.

  39. Dirty Copper says:

    My wife and I were married in Rome and had the privledge of being received by this saintly man at a general audience. I will never forget the moment and think of him often. I pray for the repose of his soul daily and look forward to the day he is canonized.

  40. Steve B. says:

    Funny. Wonder why the lyrics from a certain “Living Colour” song are going through my head right now?

  41. MargoB says:


    I still miss him. I talk to him more than I ever could/used to, esp. to ask his intercession for/with various things. I like our current pope just fine…it’s only that I don’t have as many memories of him, yet.

    Papa, if you’re in heaven already, pray for us, would you? And Jesus, if he’s not there yet, please bring him to be with You soon.

  42. TJM says:

    Michael J, these are not gratuitous facts or assertions. Perhaps you should review the Annuario Pontifico. TOm

  43. Luke says:

    He is one of the many reason I am proud to publicly and privately declare myself a Roman Catholic. I strive to emulate him.

    God bless him. I look forward to telling my children how great of a man he was; how inspiring he was; how strong he fought against the Soviet Union. I look forward to giving them his book “Threshold of Hope” and reading it with them, finding the relationship between faith and reason in his encyclicals, and sharing with them his passion for Christ.

    I will tell them how in such a divided age in such a close world, the leaders and powerless of every country came to pay their respects and show their reverence for such a great man when he died. How the entire world looked to his window in his last days.

    The way some declare their Catholic superiority and spew their idiocy against Pope John Paul II is utterly amazing and infuriating. Don’t think twice about God needing to have mercy on his soul; reading that made me physically ill. I would advise those who think it necessary to worry about that to join me in praying with every fiber of their being that their ignorance and pride are someday conquered.

  44. Ohio Annie says:

    For the record, it is Polish custom to kiss a gift. The Pope was not venerating the Koran, he was kissing a gift as is Polish custom.

  45. Geoffrey says:

    Ohio Annie,

    I never heard that! Thank you very much for sharing!

  46. Charivari Rob says:

    Ohio Annie –

    Great Catch! I would never have realized it if you hadn’t said so. You jogged my memory a bit, and I do recall my cousin’s in-laws doing that.

  47. SC says:

    Amen, Luke!!!

  48. SARK says:

    Dear Luke,

    Perhaps a rational appraisal of the pontificate of JPII is not possible given the cult that surounds him. But I am completely non-plussed why it should make you feel physically sick that we ask God to have mercy on his soul – surely that is just basic Christian charity.

    There is no doubt he was a highly intelligent, charismatic and impressive man -but surely even those who loved him for these things must be able to see his flaws as Pope and the fact he left the Church in a state of dire crisis – as our current Holy Father has admitted.


  49. Patrick T says:


    It’s important to remember that the Church was in FAR better shape in 2005, than in 1978. Ask yourself: Were the bishops better in 1978 than 2005? Were the seminaries better? Was the sacred liturgy better?

    The Church was largely on the verge of becoming an unimportant, ignorable entity. He brought the Church back into the public eye, back to having a serious influence on the world. Pope John Paul II was needed to solidify theology, especially moral theology. In many ways, Pope Benedict’s restoration of tradition in the liturgy is only possible because of Pope John Paul’s cementing and patching of the Church’s theological foundation. The Holy Spirit knows what he is doing.

  50. Geoffrey says:

    Well said, Patrick. It has been said before that the Holy Spirit gives us the pope we need at the time. We needed John Paul the Great then, and we need Pope Benedict XVI now.

    Is it just coincidence that JPII’s last encyclical was on the Eucharist, he proclaimed the Year of the Eucharist, and called a Synod on the Eucharist? (The latter two Pope Benedict saw through.)

    “The Holy Spirit knows what he is doing.” Amen!

  51. Michael J says:


    You made the assertion that “The slide began in Paul VI’s reign but I believe it hit bottom early in John Paul’s pontificate and then began its gradual ascent.” with no substantiation and hence it is gratuitous. By objective measures the ascent is so gradual as to be unnoticeable. Also gratuitous is the implicit assertion that any improvements were due to his actions.

    Now, I am not denying that John Paul II is worthy of the honorific “The Great”, I am just asking those who believe that he is worthy of this title prove it. And prove it using reason rather then sentimentality.

    Honestly, I would think John Paul II’s admirers would be eager to point to his accomplishments and demonstrate how these benefitted the Church. Instead, the best that can be expected is the admonition that “You just don’t know and need to read more”.

  52. Derik says:

    I was a young boy, and my grandmother (RIP) gave all her grandchildren little pictures of the new Pope and explained to us the importance of this event. She told us to love our new Pope, and indeed I learned to love JPII. My heart was very heavy when I learned about his passing away. BXI also has a very special place in my heart and prayers.

  53. James says:


    It it pretty obvious to me that “Paul” is of the “Pius the Xth. crowd” and has placed himself outside the Church, whether he has the discernment to know that or not. No need to be shocked at his reactionary remarks.

  54. Jordanes says:

    Michael J, this is a weblog, not a peer-reviewed academic journal of ecclesiastical history. (Thanks be to God, as I detest Turabian.)

  55. Mark says:

    Michael J:

    Just spell out what you find objectionable in this pope, and then we can carry on this conversation. Otherwise, we’ll just get stuck in innuendoes.

  56. Michael J says:


    I realize that this is not some kind of academic forum, but I expected more than empty sentimentality. Why are the most ardent admirers of John Paul II so unwilling to point to any concrete examples of his accomplishments but instead content themselves to casting aspersions on his detractors?


    I never claimed to find *anything* objectionable about John Paul II. It was you, however, who asserted that he rescued the Church, so lets start with that. *How* did he do it? *What* did John Paul II do that resulted in the halt of the decline of the Catholic Church?

    If you cannot answer these simple questions, it seems that your opinion of the man is based more on sentiment than reason.

  57. Jordanes says:

    Michael J said: I realize that this is not some kind of academic forum, but I expected more than empty sentimentality. Why are the most ardent admirers of John Paul II so unwilling to point to any concrete examples of his accomplishments but instead content themselves to casting aspersions on his detractors?

    Maybe they’re not unwilling. Maybe they’re just posting comments on a weblog.

    If it’s some of his accomplishments you’re looking for, apart from his well-documented indispensable role in bringing about the fall of the Iron Curtain, we can look to his encyclicals and apostolic letters that helped rein in the post-Vatican II craziness and reassert Catholic doctrine. Among his most significant encyclicals are Veritatis Splendor and Fides et Ratio. One cannot underestimate how much his authentic interpretation of Vatican II helped revitalise and encourage the orthodox faithful and promoted vocations.

    Another important act of his for which we must praise God is Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, reaffirming for all time the truth about male ordination.

    There is also his work to rebuild the liturgy: Liturgiam Authenticam, Redemptionis Sacramentum, and Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

    But perhaps his most important contribution, stanching the blood loss and helping the Church to heal, was the new Catechism, which the Modernists fought tooth-and-nail to derail, but is now the touchstone of catechesis.

    This doesn’t mean his decisions were all wonderful. He can be criticised for his poor episcopal appointments, for his decision allowing altar girls, for his prudential missteps at Assisi, for his indulgence of those Piero Marini spectacles. . . . we could go on, but you get the picture, I think.

  58. Mark says:

    Michael J:

    My posts were about John Paul II, the communists, and the Iron Curtain. I don’t think I asserted what you ascribe to me. Perhaps you’re thinking of someone else.

    The Church had Her problems long before his reign, during his reign, and continues to have them after his reign. But if you must know, I think that perhaps this pope was not enough of a disciplinarian. However, we don’t know all the reasons why he wasn’t, and it’s not for us to judge or to know.

    Since you don’t claim to have anything objectionable about this pope, I’m not sure what else we can talk about on this subject.

  59. Derik says:

    empty sentimentality? that rock hitted me. Lets add to the list of good deeds the documents Quattor abhinc annos, Ecclesia Dei adflicta and his catecheses on body and soul collected in the book Theology of the Body.

  60. Paul says:


    I’m not of the “Pius the Xth. Crowd”, but I’m sure they’re very nice people.

    I just haven’t had my objectivity destroyed by years of emotional attachment to the late Pope. I became a practicing Catholic after his death. I can understand why some people find it difficult to tolerate criticisms of him; I wouldn’t dare criticize him in front of my mother – she’d probably chase me out of the house.

    The point is, saints are supposed to be models of Christian life. If Pope John Paul II is canonized, it would also be a canonization of the religious indifferentism he championed by his deeds and omissions.

  61. Mark says:


    Pope John Paul II carried on respectful conversations with peoples of different faiths, notably the Jewish, and to a smaller extent, Muslim faiths. In my opinion, he didn’t compromise our faith in Christ by these contacts. During these conversations he did emphasize some things we may have in common, like our faith in the Creator, or the Decalog. However, I never got the impression that by maintaining these contacts he flirted with indifferentism or syncretism, or that they were detrimental in any other way to the Catholic faith. Quite the opposite, by doing this, he let everyone know that anyone can approach and talk with the Pope.

    Since we’re on this subject, please allow me to make a strong statement: there is smart Catholic Traditionalism, and unfortunately, there is also stupid Catholic Traditionalism. The latter is mired in despair, suspicions, innuendoes, conspiracy theories, strange “locutionists”, obsesses with other faiths, and before it completely disintegrates, it becomes sedevacantist. The former doesn’t discount the problems our Church is facing, but it doesn’t loose its rationality, and resists the temptation to despair. It seeks out allies and friends wherever they are, even if they be Samaritans.

  62. SARK says:

    Dear Paul,

    Thanks for your taxonomy of traditionalists. Whether smart or stupid in your terms I think we are still entitled to contribute to a reasoned discussion about the current crisis in the Church and it’s causes.

    In nearly all discussions on the WDTPRS blog which focus on issues of real substance about the current crisis there comes a point where disagreement gives way to insult – its almost as though there is an attempt to distract us from the issues of substance under discussion – or perhaps to frighten the “stupid traditionalists” off.

    Perhaps a balanced, evidence-based and polite debate about the current crisis in the Church is outside the scope of the WDTPRS blog. If such a debate is allowed then JPII, as a central figure in the post-Vatican II Church, cannot escape scrutiny. Given the length of his reign and his enormous influence as Pope – it stands to reason that we are where we are today – in large measure – because of him.


  63. Mark says:


    Notice that I called “Traditionalism”, and not “Traditionalists”, as either smart or stupid. We are all subject to temptation, and must be careful not to cross the “stupid” line. If we do, we must repent – I’m speaking from personal experience here. By the way, this taxonomy is not entirely mine.

    I completely agree that the pontificate of John Paul II should be scrutinized and debated by all Catholics, and if the consensus is that he’s largely responsible for the current state of the Church, then so be it. I also agree that time is needed before anyone is declared a saint, to allow the devil’s advocate to do his work in peace.

    However, all I’ve read so far is innuendo and claims that those who don’t want him criticized have their minds clouded by emotion. So I propose that you pick an ailment of your choice, and show John Paul’s culpability in it. We’ll then discuss it politely and even-handedly.

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