Just a few days ago, we celebrated the feast of St Benedict, patron of Europe. St Catherine of Siena was also given that title, and some are suggesting we should have a third: Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Poland took over the presidency of the European Union at the beginning of July, and yesterday Zenit reported on a Mass organized by the Polish embassy to the Holy See at the beginning of these important 6 months. Priorities for the presidency are said to be energy and the EU budget, but at
yesterday’s Mass, very different things were being talked of:
“Hanna Suchocka, Polish ambassador to the Holy See, thanked the participants and expressed the wish that the Polish Pope will be considered by all as the ‘patron of a united Europe able to breathe fully with her two lungs.'”
A set of lungs was an analogy which the Polish Pope used to ridicule the division of Europe into east and west, under which he lived for most of his life, and which he helped destroy. This he did, by offering the peoples behind the Iron Curtain a new, better vision of the human person, who does not exist to service either the state or capitalism/consumerism, but because he or she was brought into being by a loving, good Creator.
As Jim Gallagher puts in his biography, John Paul II – The Road to Sainthood :
“While the German National-Socialists (Nazis) had proclaimed that ‘work makes you free’, for the Communists the human person was just another cog in the great collective. Only the Catholic Church has consistently proclaimed that the human person is of intrinsic value and dignity, each individual made in the image and likeness of God.”
John Paul lived this idea out in his Papacy, taking it across Europe and the world, yet he was far from unaware of the problems facing Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as his constant invitations to remember God in the European constitution bear witness.
This holy man, steeped in Europe’s Christian intellectual and prayerful traditions, would be a fantastic patron for the continent. We will have to wait and see if this honorary title will be added to the others he will surely, and most deservedly receive.
John Paul II – The Road to Sainthood by Jim Gallagher is available from CTS at £2.95
Of related interest:
|John Paul II: The Pope who Made History – A unique and monumental 5-DVD collection that chronologically follows Pope John Paul II’s life, including his childhood in Poland, his appointment as Pope, his most important foreign visits, and his last days.|
|John Paul II: His Life his Pontificate – his DVD contains two feature-length documentaries: His Life (30 mins) and His Pontificate (60 mins). They consider the two parts of John Paul’s life, before and after his election as Pope.|
|How Saints are Canonised – Through baptism, all Christians are called to be saints, and yet there are also ‘saints’ who are ‘canonised’ by the Church. This booklet gives an overview of the history and process of beatification and canonisation in the Catholic Church.|