Written by News

The Pope

The Pope’s finally died and the rather macabre and more than faintly disturbing sight of the world’s media camping out waiting for an old man die is over. We’ve now moved on to the rememberance of his life and some of the great things he’s achieved.
Make no mistake, some of them were very great indeed. His staunch opposition to communism heralded the falling of the Berlin Wall. His world travels reinvigorated the Church wherever he went. He brought the Papacy into the 20th century (at a very late stage).
In later years, I think we’ve been more aware of his conservatism, with a failure to confront some of the Church’s more pressing issues like the ordination of women, the falling numbers of clergy and the appalling cases of paedophilia. And then there was his failure to change the Church’s opinions on contraception, particularly in light of a rampant AIDs epidemic that’s hurting Africa badly.
These are issues that the next Pope will have to address. And that choice of Pope will have more impact on a secular world than is maybe given credit.
In 1982 the Pope visited Britain and as a good 12 year old Catholic boy I travelled with my family to Mass at Wembley Stadium. I didn’t get to actually go into the stadium since tickets were limited – to 100,000 or so. Instead I was in the car park with dad as we waited with tens of thousands of others. I can’t remember how bad the travel must have been that day given that upwards of 200,000 were there that day. Before going into the stadium, the pope-mobile took a tour of the car park and we all cheered him as he passed by. My parents have cine film of that day somewhere. Dad wouldn’t let me take the film myself since he thought that it would be a shame that I’d only get to see the Pope through a camera’s viewfinder!
Anyway, sorry though I am that he’s gone, the Church has an opportunity to make a very important decision at this juncture.