Dar = Gift

Pierre Trudeau
Val?ry Giscard d’Estaing
Helmut Schmidt
Giulio Andreotti
Takeo Fukuda
James Callaghan
Jimmy Carter
Leonid Brezhnev
John Paul II

Jean Chretien
Jacques Chirac
Gerhard Schr?der
Silvio Berlusconi
Junichiro Koizumi
Tony Blair
George W. Bush
Vladimir Putin
John Paul II

The headline is from the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, about the man who has been a gift to the Polish nation, and to many others, this last quarter of a century. Karol Wojtyla was the fist Slav ever elected Pope, the first non-Italian in the better part of half a millenium. An avid skier, active in the theater, a close friend to the Polish Primate identified with resistance to Communism, more open to ecumenism than any of his predecessors, yet dedicated to centralized control and teachings many in his flock ignore. The former Archbishop of Cracow, pilgrim to the world. Can we recall the Italian monopoly on the office? Can we now imagine a Pope who never leaves his palace?

So to a remarkable man, a man who has changed history for the better, a hundred years, in the words of the old song from his homeland:

Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech zyje, zyje nam!

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Life and tagged , , by Doug Merrill. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

8 thoughts on “Dar = Gift

  1. You are right in all points, but he’s also one of the most conservative popes the last 100 years, he has done more damage do third world communities than some of the worst famines. He’s the Pope who on the one hand today argued against discriminating of minorities, but on the other hand still doesn’t allow women to play a relevant role in the catholic church.
    He’s the Pope who brought so much hope to Africa, but on the other hand told them not to use condoms because they’re “forbidden”, even when t’s to protect women (and men) from AIDS.
    He’s the Pope who meets up with young people whenever he has the possibility, but on the other hand still condemns homosexual love as “not natural” “sick” and threatens to excommunicate priests who don’t want to make a difference between heterosexual and homosexual love.
    He’s the Pope who dominated the Vatican for 25 years, but also was unable to eliminate childrens abuse by his staff and just reacts to it when the accusings are massive.
    Hmmm… I can see and understand many of the great things he did. But for the others I could live without him, too.

  2. Yep, the AIDS/condom thing is truly evil, and I think more than cashes out his karma bank for helping to topple communism.

    There is a great bit of footage of him taking the opportunity of a press conference with the Polish politbureau to tell them off roundly and soundly while they look like a bunch of cowed bullies, so I understand why so many won’t hear a word spoken against him.

  3. I’m with you both. There is an easy road and a hard road. In Eastern Europe and Iraq, the US has gone for the easy road. But long term this is harder. Especially for the people affected.

    I’m an atheist, and I haven’t too much to say about the Pope. If you are religious I respect your opinions. But I also respect what Atanu Dey says here:


    about eg Mother Teresa.

    Sometimes ‘beliefs’ do more harm than good. Although maybe the people of Eastern Europe should be using less condons!

    Down here in Spain, those who aren’t busy trying to re-introduce ‘religion as faith’ as a compulsory subject in the schools, seem to remember John 23 as a much better pope.

    BTW Zbigniew Bryzynsky in Afghanistan seems to have more to do with the fall of the ‘evil empire’.

  4. There’s a Cuban cardinal who’s been mentioned as a long-shot candidate to replace JP2… maybe history will repeat itself.

  5. I have never really brought into the notion that the Pope had any great influence in the fall of teh Soviet Union. And I also feel that the evils his stances against protected sex and homosexuality have brought with them, far outweights any good his stance against Communism has done – perhaps because I don’t really feel that it has done much good.

  6. Lilli Marleen: Well, I find myself in complete agreement with you. As an atheist, I’m not that interested in what the Pope has to say about a whole host of topics. Still, I won’t deny others their faiths….

    Edward, your refererence to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s role in Afghanistan seems to overlook the American point-of-view: that Reagan’s deficit spending – bankrupted Russia. Does Reagan’s arms buildup, and Gorbachev’s realization that the Soviets can’t match it, receive less credit in Europe for the dissolution of the Soviet Union?

  7. Like most people, sometimes I agree with the Pope (death penalty, war, unrestrained capitalism) and sometimes not (sex in several manifestations, the role of women, the existence of God).

    However, I can say exactly who the opposite of the Pope is: an atheist, libertarian, pro-death-penalty warblogger.

  8. Zizka: that seems to be an endorsement for atheists, libertarians, and pro-death-penalty warbloggers, considering the prevalent views expressed here about the Pope.

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