Farewell, Our Shepherd
PBS rebroadcasts its excellent documentary John Paul II: The Millennial Pope tonight at 7 PM (Central). Much of its content is also available in transcripts via the program's web site, including these interviews, first person anecdotes, summaries of his encyclicals, and examples of his poetry.
As one might expect from PBS, this program is not intended to be an endorsement of the John Paul's vision. Much time is given over to his critics, especially on matters of sexuality, feminism, liberation theology, and the unifying principle of his reign, the culture of life. But it seems this critical contrast only serves to reveal the man's profound understanding of the truth in bolder relief.
Both those who accept the teachings and wisdom of John Paul II and those who reject them are left to face this reality, articulated by Roberto Suro of the Washington Post:
"At the end of the day, when you look at this extraordinary life and you see all that he has accomplished, you're left with one very disturbing question. On the one hand, the Pope can seem this lonely, pessimistic figure...a man obsessed with the evils of the twentieth century, a man convinced that humankind has lost its way...it's so dark and so despairing that he loses his audiences. That would make him a tragic figure.
On the other hand, you have to ask: Is he a prophet? Did he come here with a message? Did he see something that many of us are missing? In that case, the tragedy is ours."