The pope

Being a lapsed Catholic and all, it's surpising how much a long-dead tooth can bother you when uprooted. The pope embodied much of what was conservative about the church and its longstanding views on abortion and homosexuality, and while he did a lot for Poland under communist rule, he wasn't quite as vocal about the role of the church in South American politics.

Basically, what I thought were his worse flaws were a failure at enlightenment in specific areas, and, a failure to be more active speaking out in areas where he was more enlightened, especially as he got older.

When the Passion brouhaha was at its height, he was at a position to speak out against Gibson's snuff flick, but he didn't. I like to think this was more a reflection of his weakened condition and current influence over the entire church (which, at best, was probably incomplete, maybe even minor), and of Gibson's tactlessness in bothering a very sick old man; maybe it was more than can be hoped for that he didn't endorse the movie. The Jewish community more or less regarded him as a friend, and I think it's significant that they didn't ask for more than that non-endorsement--maybe they would have if he was in better health.

I think he was a good man, perhaps too old-fashioned, trying to do his best in a pretty hopeless position. Many people loved him--many Filipinos especially (funny, but I can write this easily in an American forum but I hesitate to post this in a Filipino forum--mostly out of a reluctance to admit I share their feelings more than I let on). It was pretty clear the love was reciprocated, at least as much as humanly possible. I wish he could have done more, or at least rose above his biases, I suspect it's too much to have expected of him, what with the corrupt system he was the nominal head of. For some strange reason, I think I'm going to miss him.  

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