This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 2, 2005 4:47 PM. The previous post in this blog was Retraction. The next post in this blog is Scary moment. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, April 2, 2005

"He's Polish!"

I'll never forget the moment I learned about the selection of John Paul II to be pope. I was sitting in the Pioneer Courthouse, newcomer to Portland, clerking for my judge, and the judge let out a holler that was pretty loud, even for the Eastern Oregon cowboy that he is at heart. "He's Polish! Bogdanski, get in here and listen to this."

And so it was that I learned of Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyla's ascendancy to the throne of the Roman Catholic Church -- to assume the role handed down by Jesus Christ to Simon Peter. It was a stunning move. The seeds of democracy were already beginning to sprout in Poland, where the Solidarity movement was starting to present bold challenges to Soviet rule. Questions were beginning to be asked that had previously been unthinkable, and the selection by the Church of a Polish pontiff was both a heavenly sign and a strong political statement.

Of course, my mom was disappointed. Back when I was an altar boy, she had always boasted to friends and family that I would some day be the first Polish pope. That prediction was somewhat inconsistent with her other prediction, that I would some day be the first Polish president of the United States, but when pressed, she stuck to both. Sorry, Mom, but as John Mellencamp has explained, "just like everything else those old crazy dreams just kinda came and went."

John Paul II's selection as pope followed shortly the death of John Paul I, whose term as pope had lasted only about a month. John Paul I's death, officially of a heart attack, seemed pretty suspicious. Vatican conspiracy theorists were having a field day. But the appointment of Wojtyla pushed the images of dark Vatican intrigue completely out of the picture, and a new day began.

Over the decades, John Paul II disappointed a lot of folks. They wanted changes in Church doctrine in so many vital areas: birth control, women in the priesthood, homosexuality, abortion, assisted suicide, and divorce, to name a few. What they got instead was someone who stuck to his guns -- the church's old-guard guns -- pretty much across the board. And he filled the College of Cardinals with lots of other traditionalists who feel the same way about most things.

I'm among the people who would welcome change in the Church. But I don't fault the man for the way he handled himself. He did what he thought was right, and he stuck up for values that deserve to be defended. Wherever he went, the loving crowds flocked, and he went everywhere. Even one of my poker buddies shook his hand once.

The pope inspired a lot of good, and he will be missed.

Comments (5)

Great personal tribute to the Holy Father. If you aint Catholic you dont get it as much and you being Polish totaly get it. I did a small podcast today on it and its still uploading. Did you listen to the catholicinsider.com? Father Rodrick is tag us along.
It hard to compress is service to the world. Its like this file going up....Amazing life and this day has been coming. Wish you well

Tottus Tus??

I, too, am a Catholic (well, I don't know if I am anymore 'cause I forget all the confession protocol and major prayers and whatnot) and also the daughter of a Polish feller. I remember when the Pope got elected back in '78. How could I forget? It was in the same time frame as my first and only abortion, having gotten pregnant with a married man's child.

I fear I've been paying for it ever since.

Jack..I'm confused when you say that you don't fault the man (the pope in this case, not Johnny Cash)..he did what he thought was right..and stuck up for values that desertve to be defended. What values did you have in mind Jack? My favorite value...when the pope called "homosexuality" an ideology of evil. Hmmm..that would make me a big old evil idiot.
I'm scared where the next pope with lead the flock of the willing.
Jack Danger

what was so unusual about the popes selection?

Great tribute for the Holy Father....I remeber saying "Hail Mary full of Grace....we are now in first place" ...the new Polish prayer the day he was annouced....being Polish myself it made me proud...did I go go back to the chruch...no...did I believed in everything he said...no...but you had to give it to him ... he said what he meant...and meant what he said...In my life time (57yrs) I don't think I've seen a more powerful man that had so much love for everyone...God's speed Karol Wojtyla.

Larry Donaleski

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