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The Tragedy is Ours

An old PBS Frontline interview with the Washington Post's Roberto Suro on Pope John Paul II ended with the following quote, quite prophetic in its own right:

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I think the pope has to be a prophetic figure, somebody who changed humanity. What he offered, what he suggested, the road laid out, if followed, would have transformed humanity in a spiritual sense. He was calling at the end of the twentieth century for a spiritual life to become the center of man's humanity, for all men, and certainly for all Catholics and all Christians to rediscover spirituality as the guiding force in their lives. If he had accomplished that, he would have been a millennial figure, not the man of the century. Somebody who produced much grander changes than that.

Instead he is a historical figure, he's somebody who lives within the period of time, who had a message that had impact, that changed events, that changed lives, but did not nearly reach the dimensions that were the ambitions that its author set out.

At the end of the day, when you look at this extraordinary life and you see all that he's accomplished, all the lives he's touched, the nations whose history he's changed, the way he's become such a powerful figure in our culture, in all of modern culture--among believers and not--taking all of that into account, you're left with one very disturbing and difficult question. On the one hand, the Pope can seem this lonely, pessimistic figure--a man who only sees the dark side of modernity, a man obsessed with the evils of the twentieth century, a man convinced that humankind has lost its way. A man so dark, so despairing, that he loses his audiences. That would make him a tragic figure, certainly.

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.

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You can read the entire interview here.

Hat Tip: Rod Dreher at The Corner

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