I have been trying to think about what to write, on the passing of Pope John Paul II. After reading so much from others, I realize the grand and profound stuff is already up.
I did, however, think of one point I wanted to make. When I was a boy, I knew about popes the same way I knew about ministers, elected leaders, or celebrities. There was nothing especially great about a Pope. Pope John Paul II changed that, on many levels.
When I was young, there was a nickname commonly used for some of the older men; 'Pop'. Some used it disparagingly, to suggest a person was past their prime, but it was more commonly used to refer to someone who was like a family member, respected and with some affection. It was not commonly used in connection with an authority figure, but more someone who taught by how they lived and worked, and with whom young people sought a conection. When that older person passed on, or even when they retired, it was as important to the younger people as a family crisis.
For many of us, Pope John Paul Ii was "Pop". He was much more than a guy we heard about on the news, or who was only a triviality. He mattered, from what he did to what he said and stood for. Even for non-Catholics like me, he was family.
We'll miss you, Pop.