I have so much to say and no time to read.
First, about the Pope. I really respected this Pope for the same reasons I disliked him. He really stuck to his principles, the principles that seem (from my very limited understanding and my brief youthful/familial experiences) to be at the cornerstone of the Roman Catholic faith. I guess I liked this Pope because I saw him pointing out the inconsistencies, the “selective faith,” of many I know — I’m thinking mostly of my family, here. Two years ago, the Papal declaration reminding people who’ve been divorced that they shouldn’t take communion in the church was really interesting for me. I, perhaps, have a particularly bitter view of the Catholic church because I’m pretty certain that I’m “illegitimate” in two different ways through their figuring. Also, I was just old enough to understand how painful it was for my mother to see her 14-year marriage to my father annulled by the church.
So, I liked John Paul 2 because he worked at making Catholicism something difficult. As a spectator, I’m torn between wishing that the Cardinals would elect someone similarly conservative who will continue to make that faith a particularly difficult path, who might continue the Pope’s work of making hypocrisy in the church something that’s so easy to spot, and wanting someone progressive who might be able to lead his flock toward greater tolerance. I have no say and really not much right to say — it’s like being a sports fan. I watch, but I can’t (and would never try to) play, and at the end of the day I’m just happy to have any little idea of what’s going on in the game.
Also on the Pope — there was a near head explosion on Sunday morning when I had to hear Nancy Reagan on the phone with Wolf Blitzer (two people who may be robots) telling him about how Ronnie and the Pope were virtually the same person. “They had so much in common,” she kept saying. “They were so similar.” Something like they were both actors, they were both leaders of large groups of people, they both believed in God, they both believed they’d been sent by God, they both breathed air, they both died of debilitating illnesses, etc.
OK, now I’m going to read 40 pages before I can say or do anything else.