The Pope: An Open Thread

As the world awaits the death of Pope John Paul II, I thought I would open a thread here at BCC for people to express their thoughts on John Paul’s papacy and the Catholic Church in general.

I wonder whether, beyond a natural sense of human empathy, Mormons should be that interested in the life or death of this or any Pope. After all, he is not our leader. Nonetheless, I find myself fascinated by this story, and the speculation surrounding John Paul’s successor. I shall ruminate on this further…

I only have one "Pope story". It didn’t involve seeing him or anything, but I remember being glued to the news coverage of his Millennium visit to the Holy Land. There is one image I will never forget: the Pope meditating alone at the Nativity shrine in Bethlehem. For some reason this really touched me–despite the media circus surrounding him, here was a man who in private clearly loved his God. Whatever one thinks of the Pope (and his conservatism probably wins him respect among Mormons), his sincerity was beyond doubt.


  1. My favorite image of Pope John Paul II is a short video clip of him meeting and praying with the man who shot him in a 1981 assasination attempt. The Pope set a beautiful example of forgiveness by meeting with this man in jail and forgiving him.

  2. All I’m going to say is that they need to keep their eyes out for the Illuminati!!!!!!

  3. Ronan, unfortunate timing on the post, but I’m glad you posted it.

  4. Er, yeah, this one ain’t an April Fool (I don’t think). And of course the poor man isn’t dead yet.

    The irony that this happens at the same time as the Schiavo case is not lost on me: the Pope is being fed by a tube whilst Schiavo’s was removed.

    I wonder how many Mormons will speak condescendingly about the selection of a new pope when the time comes? Hah! The Puff of Smoke! What Priestcraft!

    Anyway, I think the pope is a good bloke even though I don’t agree with all of his social stances. All the best to him and the Church.

  5. The transfer of power in Catholicism is so much cooler than it is in the LDS church. I mean, how cool would it be if the Seventy got together and elected the next apostle?

    Ronan: and don’t forget that Jerry Falwell is also in the hospital. (Isn’t it all a sign of the apocalypse?)

  6. Why can’t an English cardinal be pope? Are we still being punished for Henry VIII and Elizabeth I?

  7. Sorry for my irrelevant post. I didn’t realize this was the “poke fun at the Pope and Catholicism” thread.

  8. john fowles says:

    The death of the Pope will be a huge loss indeed. He has been a true Christian his whole life and a marvelous example of Christian charity and love to the whole world. He has “restored” much dignity to Christianity and has played an active role for the good in world affairs. If more leaders were as firm in their moral convictions as he has been the world would be a much better place. Allison and I will miss him greatly. I am confident that he will make the right choices in the Spirit World; I have full faith in his good faith desire to follow Jesus Christ in truth.

  9. Tess, no! no!
    No fun here. Honest. This is the “say serious things about the Pope thread”. Come back!
    See: look at John’s comment.

    [BTW, if I get time I’m going to do an IGI search on past Popes. Nudge, nudge, wink ,wink.)

  10. I have been struck by the Pope’s call for peace and his critique of Western materialism. I have tender feelings as I have read about his declining health, knowing how I have felt when our Church leaders have neared death. Like Ronan, I have noted the irony of the feeding tube.

    On a different note, I remember noting how being a Mormon strongly informs how I perceive the role of church leadership in general, when listening to a CBC program just before the Pope’s 3rd visit to Canada and the discussion about the “Pope’s agenda”. For us, there is no such thing as a Church leader’s “agenda” in Mormon-speak.

    For a short history of the Pope and assesment of his legacy:

  11. I have got to stop blogging with children around — would someone please count how many times I used the word “note” or a derivative of it.

  12. I wonder whether, beyond a natural sense of human empathy, Mormons should be that interested in the life or death of this or any Pope.

    Considering how influential this and many other Popes have been on the world stage, yeah, we should be interested in the end of this papacy.

    I served a mission in Czechoslovakia. You could argue quite convincingly that Pope John Paul II had something to do with that. Ronald Reagan gets a lot of credit for winning the Cold War. This Pope deserves just as much credit — and maybe more, at least on a moral level.

  13. a random John says:


    You usually hear that Reagan, the Pope, and Gorbachev were responsible for the end of communism. Sometimes Thatcher is thrown in as well. In any case, I have a great deal of respect for the man.

  14. The wire services are now reporting that he had died.

  15. I hate typos.

    The wire services are reporting that he HAS died.

  16. john fowles says:

    CNN isn’t reporting it yet in its breaking news headlines.

  17. Apparently there was a report and a retraction. For ten minutes, Drudge was reporting that the Pope had died. Not he’s reporting that the Pope is still alive.

  18. Shawn Bailey says:

    In addition to general appreciation for unwaivering moral leadership, I respect the Pope for the role he reportedly played (before he was Pope) in the Vatican II Council, which brought about important changes in the Catholic approach to religious freedom, the treatment of Jews, and other things.

    I remember well the Pope’s visit to Brazil while I was serving there as a missionary. Surely he is well-loved by millions and will be missed. TV coverage played around the clock, so I saw bits of it before and after discussions. A member who had worked on a security detail (he was in the Brazilian military at the time) during a prior Papal visit to Brazil told me that the Pope had approached each security guard personally to confer a blessing on them. The Pope had even given this member a small image of a Saint. The member had been Catholic at the time and truly appreciated the personal attention.

    Due to my experience with Brazil and Catholicism there, I am interested to see if the next Pope is from somewhere other than Europe. I take it that a Latin American Pope is a real possibility.

  19. The AP is reporting that in Wadowice, Poland, people left school and work early and headed to church to pray for their native son.

    I love this image, of coming out of the world to pray.

  20. john fowles says:

    This is no April Fools: in the early 90s my cousin, who lived in Mesa Arizona, suffered a severe head injury for which he was hospitalized. His hospital stay coincided with a visit by the Pope to Arizona in which he visited that hospital and imparted a blessing to my cousin (and many other of the sick and afflicted who were there).

  21. Shawn,

    While I have the same reasons for thinking that a Brazilian pope would be interesting, my bet is on Africa if they go outside of Europe. They sure aren’t going to pick anyone from here in Boston.

  22. Ronan- I just read your profile online, and now can understand where you are coming from a bit better, since you’re English. I’m English, too. Born in Burnley and raised in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. I’ve been in the U.S. since I was ten years old, though.

    Thanks for your original post. Is there an express prohibition against electing an English pope?

  23. Heather P. says:

    I saw the pope in Salzburg (well, if “saw” includes that he was speaking inside a church and I saw it on the big screen outside the building) and all I remember from that time was how impressed I was at his language abilities. But then I went on a mission to Poland, his (mostly Roman Catholic) native country, where he is greatly revered. And afterwards, in a Polish culture class at BYU, we read some of his sermons (in Polish, from his visits as the pope there). Some of my classmates (we were mostly returned missionaries from Poland) really grumbled about that. I think some of them had truly come to see the Catholic church as the “enemy” (or already had that notion beforehand?). But I don’t feel that way and I found the pope’s words very beautiful, very moving. I admire him and I think he has done a lot of good in the world.

  24. There was an English pope in 1154 — Adrian IV, formerly Nicholas Breakspear. He was pope until 1159.

  25. And anyone who wants some fun should read a novel by Fr Rolfe (Baron Corvo): Hadrian the Seventh, about a fictional English pope.

  26. Thanks Bill. Now for an English prophet (does John Taylor count?)

  27. Here’s a site about Reginald Pole, an Englishman who cultivated the mantle of prophet, and missed becoming pope by a single vote:

  28. john fowles says:

    I would say he certainly does.

  29. Jonathan Green says:

    Speaking of fictional popes, the prejudice against electing Englishmen has been attributed to the terrible difficulties that ensued upon the election of John VII or VIII (the number varies even more widely than this), who was said to have given birth on the way to mass.

  30. Seth Rogers says:

    Since the Catholics claim that the Pope holds the direct Priesthood lineage from Peter, there are some obvious parallels between the Catholic Pope and the LDS Prophet.

    Furthermore, the Catholic church is already a world religion and the Mormon church aspires to be one.

    I think Mormons should always be intensly interested in what is going on with the Catholic Church. In most cases, I think observing the Catholic experience will be highly instructive for Mormons.


  1. […] Here at BCC we have feted Pope John Paul II and expressed our admiration for all things Catholic. Religious leaders are not immune from saying crazy things, however (see, Smoothies, TK). In 1981, the Pope stated that “every conjugal act must be open to life.” This has been interpreted to mean that contraception is forbidden by God. […]

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