Pope John Paul II's moral voice recalled - Catholic Courier

Pope John Paul II’s moral voice recalled

It’s hard to believe five years have passed since Pope John Paul II left this world. April 2, 2005, seems almost like yesterday. Because he accomplished so much good in this life, it feels like his life is still here.

The Rev. Billy Graham, a famous Protestant evangelist, summed it up well when he said, "When future historians look back on the most influential personalities of the 20th century, the name of Pope John Paul II will unquestionably loom large in their accounts. Few individuals have had a greater impact — not just religiously but morally — on the modern world. He will stand as the most influential moral voice of our time."

In all the many prophetic ways he influenced our time, the pope’s moral voice rang out most powerfully when it was raised on behalf of the world’s forgotten masses: the poor, the hungry, the war torn and the unborn.

During his 1979 visit to Washington, Pope John Paul, standing within sight of the U.S. Capitol, boldly proclaimed to 175,000 of us at the Capitol Mall: "We will stand up every time that human life is threatened. When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life!"

The pope’s passionate call to protect the unborn in no way detracted from his equally passionate concern for suffering human beings already born.

In his famous encyclical Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life"), Pope John Paul stated: "As disciples of Jesus, we are called to become neighbors to everyone … and to show special favor to those who are poorest, most alone and most in need. …

"Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good."

And he meant every human life — even the murderer’s.

During the celebration of the Eucharist in St. Louis on Jan. 27, 1999, the late Holy Father said, "I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary."

During a pastoral visit to Brazil, Pope John Paul said, "The church wants to be the church of the poor. … To those who live with a certain well being … think about the poor. … Think about the ones who do not have what is needed, the ones who live in chronic want, who suffer hunger. …

"Look around you. Does it not hurt your heart? Do you not feel the stings of your conscience for your surplus and abundance? …

"Remember that the value of a man is not measured by what he has, but what he is. … Only a socially just society, one that strives to be ever more just, has a reason to exist."

To the Vatican diplomatic corps, Pope John Paul proclaimed that war "is always a defeat for humanity."

During a pastoral visit to Ireland, Pope John Paul warned that "violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems, that violence … is a lie. … Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings."

His consistent care for all, especially for the poor and vulnerable, radiated in him a Christ-like holiness.

"Santo Subito!" ("Sainthood Now!") That’s what Italians heralded during Pope John Paul II’s funeral Mass.

Indeed, "Santo Subito!"

Magliano is a columnist for Catholic News Service.

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