Karol Wojtyla, my Karol, the Karol of the Christians, of the Jews, of the Muslims, of the Buddhists, of the atheists, of the gay activists, the Pope John Paul II of the world has returned to heaven.
He was officially proclaimed dead on 02 April at 9:37 in the evening, Central European Time. I have been sad these past few days, but today I am happy. Being a believer in the resurrection, I know that Pope John Paul II is now on a journey towards the Father whom he loved so much and served in such an extraordinary way. With love. For love.
Pope John Paul II was a little bit of everything – an actor, a worker, a father, a priest, a teacher, a cardinal, a learner, a lover, a peacemaker, a pope. He was the only pope I knew. I want to remember his handsome face, his gentle touch, his sense of humor, his beautiful soul. I want to remember his Polish accent, his words of wisdom, his radical views. I want to remember his incapacity to speak, his immobility, his arms – which he lifted, though tired and sore, to bless the pilgrims for the last time – that gesture of love so immense.
I also want to remember that he was deeply involved in the fight for justice and peace, for human rights, for human dignity, for the integrity of creation. I also want to remember that he was a vocal critic of dictatorship, of communism, of war, of abuse against women and children, of the oppression of the poor and the powerless. I also want to remember that he humbly asked for forgiveness for past errors committed by Roman Catholics – particularly that of the Inquisition and the Crusades.
S/he who believes knows that death is only a passage, a transformation, a return to God. I thank the compassionate God for Karol Wojtyla, for giving us an ordinary person who loved us extraordinarily.