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Monday, April 04, 2005

Reflections on Pope John Paul II

Many people and theologians throughout the world reflect positively on this Pope even those who would theologically disagree. The Rev. Dr. Peter Leithart is one such theologian. At the end of his tribute he writes, "Flawed though his theology was, he remains far and away the greatest Christian leader of the past century. No Protestant comes anywhere close. Billy Graham may have preached more (maybe!), but Graham had nowhere near the political weight or the theological depth of Pope John Paul II. John Paul II's life is not only testimony to the wonders that God can perform through imperfect instruments but an inspiration for all Christians, whether or not we aspire to pope."
(April 2, 2005) As we reflect on the passing from us of Pope John Paul II, I ask that prayers of thanksgiving for his life and witness be offered at all services in the Diocese this Sunday.

Anglicans formally recognized the Bishop of Rome as the Patriarch of the Western Church in the sixth century when the already ancient British Church welcomed the Benedictine Monk, Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great to be Archbishop of Canterbury. While the Anglican Church ceased, nearly a millennium later, to be in sacramental communion with the Roman See in an unresolved dispute over the proper exercise of the authority its bishop, the Bishop of Rome has never ceased to be for bishops in the Anglican Communion the first among equals. For many years successive Archbishops of Canterbury have visited and been visited by the Pope as they have the historic Patriarchs of the East.

We offer our prayers and support for our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church who feel the loss of John Paul II particularly acutely. Since the Second Vatican Council, Anglicans and Roman Catholics have been in constant dialogue with the express goal of working towards the full restoration of sacramental communion. I have had the privilege of participating for more than a decade in dialogue with Roman Catholic bishops, both in Saskatchewan and nationally.

John Paul II will be remembered as one of the towering personalities of the twentieth century, and the foremost Christian leader of his generation. His obvious sanctity, fierce intelligence, courage and vitality; his extraordinary engagement with contemporary culture, politics and art; his brilliant grasp of symbol and gesture; his unceasing travels; his unmatched command of the media and unerring ability to speak to the issues of the moment – all these made him a constant presence and inspiration in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ the world over. Even those who opposed him respected his commitment and integrity: as well he inspired many uncommitted seekers and adherents of other religions.

He leaves us not only a spiritual example of a sanctified life; he leaves an extraordinary educational and moral legacy as well. His philosophy of personalism suffuses the cornucopia of teaching documents he has released over the years to stabilize the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the Second Vatican Council – chief among them the encyclicals Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life); Fides et ratio (Faith and Reason); and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. His leadership in the defeat of communist totalitarianism in Eastern Europe is universally recognized. Canadians will remember his three visits to our country, particularly his return visit to Northern Canada in fulfillment of a promise earlier frustrated by bad weather, and his visit to World Youth Day in 2002.

I will always think of John Paul II as an apostle of life and freedom; the life of Jesus Christ embraced in prayer, sacrament, suffering and friendship; the freedom of Jesus Christ found in self-offering, the love of life, and the determination to face down oppression, whether political or ideological, wherever it is found. John Paul’s insight into the culture of life will likely be his principal gift to the generation which follows him which will need to think about new issues of medical ethics and biotechnology. For this and for so much God has given us through him, I give thanks.

In Christ,

+Anthony Saskatchewan

2 Comments:

Blogger Me-cow said...

Thanks for posting this, Jeff.

7:17 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

Glad to do it. Thanks for all the recent encouragement through your comments of late.

all the very best,

js

11:49 pm  

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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