I am watching the televised appearance of Pope John Paul at the Vatican at the moment. The old fella has only been able to say a few words for his regular Easter message to the masses thronging below in St Peter’s Square. It cannot surely be very long before he steps off this mortal coil.
How should yours truly, a lapsed Anglican, think about what this man represents? Well, I am going to put any reflections on his contribution to the Catholic church, or his views about abortion, etc, to one side and focus on a more worldly fact about his extraordinary life and career. The Pope was, in my view, one of the three or four great men (and one great woman) who helped bring the Soviet Union, that evil and decrepit empire, crashing to its knees. Along with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Gorbachev and arguably, the power of cheap television advertising, the Pope helped bring about communism’s demise.
I do not share the Pope’s faith, but in reflecting on his life on this Easter Sunday, it was hard not to suppress a lump in the throat. In my book, he is one of the giants of our age.