This year’s International Workers’ Day had attained a place in history books as a special day. The world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden was declared dead. The death of the al-Qaeda leader and international terrorist has made the well wishers of lives of innocent people ecstatic. It’s strange but true that almost 66 years back on May 1, 1945, the world came to know about the death of another dictator and mass murderer Adolf Hitler, which ensured culmination of allied campaign in Europe during World War II.
However, the jubilation over death of Laden would not diminish the significance of another great happening that took place on this May Day. Nearly 1.5 million people gathered in Rome to participate in the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II, which turned him into a “Blessed” figure. “From now on Pope John Paul shall be called ‘blessed,’” proclaimed Pope Benedict. Many who are not aware of the term beatification need to know that it ‘ is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person’s entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name (intercession of saints). Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process. A person who is beatified is given the title “Blessed”.’
Blessed Pope John Paul II was an unique soul in many ways. This Polish pope was the first non-Italian pope since Dutch pope Adrian VI (1522–1523), who came to be associated with the second-longest documented pontificate, spanning over 26 years. Though, he could not save himself above the waves of criticism for upholding ” the moral teachings of the Catholic Church regarding gender roles, sexuality, euthanasia, artificial contraception and abortion “, it’s beyond doubt that he was person in league with great achievements. Nobody can forget that this man played a major role in ensuring the demise of Communism in Eastern Europe. He was a real saint who really cared for humanity, making him travel vigorously in as much as 129 nations. He knew more than 13 languages, helping him to establish rapport with the sufferers in various parts of the world very easily.
Recalling one such visit, one of my close friends and admirer of my writings Carmen turns quite nostalgic. She describing the Blessed Pope’s visit to Peru in 1985 told me that Pope was not hesitant to visit Callao considered dangerous because of the continued violence there. He also visited Villa El Salvador considered one of most poorest part of Lima then. Carmen proudly told me that she was one of the few lucky students to participate in the welcome ceremony held to mark the visit of Blessed Pope John Paul II. She recollects how she had prepared songs and slogans and how she anxiously waited for his arrival at the airport. Well, I must say that she is no less than a blessed soul who twice got an opportunity to have the glimpse of him during the pontificate. I must agree with Carmen’s observation that few seconds spent with some evolved soul lead to everlasting impression in mind and heart.
Now it’s time for me to enter in some self praise!! Some six years back I had contributed to one leading website this short piece which talked about John Paul II being referred to as the Great after the death. He is the fourth pope to receive this honour. Anyway, here is what I wrote six years back when the appellation [of “the Great”] came to be associated with him.
To say that appellation represents true worth of a person is to ignore the greatness inherent in the noble deeds. Let us know for sure that pious souls intentions don’t need anybody’s seal of approval. Also appellations are of relative importance,being open to diverse interpretations. Alexander the great may be national hero in his land but for others he is no more than a plunderer. Pope John Paul II lived for the cause of humanity. He was different from his predecessors in a sense that he touched issues, which were controversial in nature, managing to create a new way. By all standards it was an amazing achievement, something that enabled him to strike a chord with the masses. The need of the hour is to infuse religion with the progressive ideals so that it can become people friendly. Viewed in this perspective, Pope John Paul II created space for issues, which till few years ago were suppressed by orthodoxy. How many times can you find religious heads airing views on homosexuality, capitalism and etc. in such a ferocious manner? His legacy merely indicates that time has come to adopt liberal concepts without losing sight of the ancient ideals.
Famous words of Blessed Pope John Paul II:
I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you.
As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.
The future starts today, not tomorrow.
No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person (Read Christ).
Do not be afraid.