Saint Pope John Paul II, the Great, revolutionized the Office of Peter, in teaching, defending the Truth, and in evangelization, through his never-before-seen global outreach. No Pope prior to him had ever reached so many people in fulfilling his role as successor to Peter.
Pope Francis, in receiving this great Papal gift, is given the torch of true reform in always returning to the basic Truths of the faith, rather than in popular innovation built upon the whims of the world.
JPII believed that in the hearts of all young people there was a hunger for ‘the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.’ In his World Youth Days, and many addresses to the young people of the world, not to mention his continuing relationship with his young friends (the ‘Srodowisko’ in Poland), he brought the true love of Christ in incarnate, sacramental mercy, and in the Doctrines of Truth.
Pope Francis inherits this mission, but must overcome mere ‘celebrity fever’ while imparting more than incarnate love and mercy without doctrine, which may be misinterpreted in a myriad of false-ideological ways.
Unbeknownst to the young and uninitiated, and to those liberals who imagine otherwise, JPII brought Divine Mercy through the Papacy long before Francis. JPII’s Mercy was boldly linked, biblically, and doctrinally, to the Father of Mercy who bestows this Mercy on His wayward and prodigal children. Through his encyclical Dives in Misericordia, his apostolic exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, and the beatification of Sister Faustina, with the subsequent Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Papacy of JPII was a Papacy of Mercy.
Pope Francis has been thereby challenged to spread the Truth of Divine Mercy with explicit biblical and traditional reference to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mouthing many words of ‘mercy’ will not do.
JPII was not afraid (‘be not afraid’) to tangle with the powers that be! In 1994 he derailed the Clinton administrations attempts to fund (worldwide) abortion at the Cairo World Conference on Population and Development. Using the blessed bully pulpit of St. Peter, JPII appealed to the hearts and minds of many people, enough to win Life for a time.
So far, as witnessed in Washington D.C., Pope Francis has chosen the gentle, diplomatic approach. But with the above mentioned example, the same people are at it again! Diplomacy has its time and place. Boldness has one also.
JPII was the great reformer, and implementer of Vatican II, which interpreted the Council as in continuity with Church history and Tradition, and interpreted the documents of the Church in light of the intentions of the Fathers of the Council. There will always be those within, and without, the Church who dream of days when doctrine will change to meet ‘evolved’ society. Don’t count JPII in that group. He knew that ‘the Truth will set you free,’ but only on Truth’s terms.
Hopefully Pope Francis will do the same.
JPII’s preaching, teaching, and witness was saturated with the words and vision of Jesus Christ. His Papacy was Christocentric.
Pope Francis, so far, has not been as Christocentric, or doctrinal, in his evangelization. But time will tell.
So, in the pop frenzy over Francis, let’s give God a little thanks for the path paved for Francis in the greater foundations of JPII, the Great.