Sunday, October 28, 2007

Does JPII get too much attention?

The question was recently asked on the Catholic Answers Forum: Does John Paul II get too much attention? The question is rather broad in scope (and begs further--in what way does he get too much attention if he does?), but I answered this as it is a matter of some concern to me. Here is my response:

Before I say this, let me preface it by saying that I think that John Paul II was a very good Pope--he reached out to all the world through his travels and was a prolific writer. He most definitely stood out as a world leader and philosopher, as well as an excellent pastor of souls.

However, I think that the trap that most younger Catholics fall into nowadays (and by younger, I mean those between the ages of 15-30 for the most part) is that they seem to think that John Paul II was the only Pope who ever existed (not literally, of course). This may be due to the fact that for most of them, this is the only Pope they have ever known. However, I see it quite often here at my college--everyone has such an attachment to John Paul II that they seem to forget the vast history of Popes leading up to him, as well as an immense corpus of Papal writings. John Paul II was a prolific writer, to be sure, but he is not the only Pope who ever wrote anything. Leo XIII wrote 31 encyclicals, including Rerum Novarum--the foundation of Catholic social teaching in modern times, as well as a great many encyclicals on the Rosary.

One major place I have seen this is the Catholic Scripture Study program. We have a group for it here on campus, and while it is an excellent program, the "Rome to Home" section is comprised entirely of quotes from John Paul II's teaching. Dozens of other Popes and loads of the Church Fathers apart from the Popes had plenty to say on the matters discussed in Scripture, so why not include them?

In short, John Paul II deserves a lot of attention because of what he was to the Church and to the world. But let us not forget the Holy Fathers who proceeded him, those who continue to teach us with the legacies they left behind and who constantly intercede for us at the right hand of the Father Almighty.

The original thread may be found here:

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