JPII Canonization: Love the saintly pope – hate the saintly pope’s sins?

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There are many reasons why Pope John Paul II was so loved by the modern world. The core reason, in my opinion, is because of a central aspect of his New Evangelization — a new approach that cut him loose from the one hard truth that made all pre-Vatican II popes unpopular. Unburdened by this fundamental truth, he could easily mix with men of all religions, and of no religion, with little fear of invoking their displeasure.

The New Approach

On the day of Pope John Paul II’s death, I received a phone call from a young lady in New Zealand, a friend of the family. She presently works in a situation where she interacts with Muslims and Hindus. When she tells these non-Catholics, with gentleness and charity, they must convert to the one true Catholic Church to save their souls, the Muslims and Hindus laugh at her. “Your Pope doesn’t believe that”, they cackle, referring to John Paul II, “Your Pope doesn’t teach that. Your Pope’s interfaith actions don’t convey that. Your Pope prays with the Dalai Lama and with Hindus. Your Pope visits mosques and kisses the Koran. You are out-of-step with your own Pope. Why should we listen to you?”

Two Catholic young men of my acquaintance, debating with a Protestant Minister, were likewise laughed to scorn when they in-formed the Protestant he must become Catholic to be saved. “What?”, said the Protestant, “You obviously don’t read the writings of your own Pope. He prays with Protestants. He praises Martin Luther as a man of ‘deep religiousness’. He calls Protestants ‘disciples of Christ’. He never says it is necessary to become Catholic for salvation.”

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