Shouldn't we be more concerned about Christ than about the Pope?

I have high respect for Pope John Paul II and am saddened by his passing. Yet I am grieved that everyone is full of thoughts about how he will be laid to rest, who will succeed him, how nice a man he was, how he made the youth feel, etc.

Is not the Pope and his office supposed to be pointing to Christ? It seems to be a lot more about the Pope himself that no one is saying, “The Pope pointed this lost world to Christ and in the Pope’s death we continue to look to Christ who alone can save.” It’s all about how great John Paul was and how he is to be revered and honored and is now in heaven because he was such a wonderful man.

If the Pope is supposed to point to Christ, is he really fulfilling his office in that regard when his own death brings more talk about his life and office than about Christ’s?

Please be wary of positing an either/or dichotomy: In other words, please be careful of the fallacy that assumes that “Either we must always talk of Christ in the same breath as we talk of the Pope’s passing *or *that is an indication that we don’t really care about Christ at all.” Rather, we should seek the both/and position: “Both by our remembrance of the Pope *and *by the Pope’s extraordinary life, we see a reflection of the Savior whom John Paul II served and to whom he points us.”

Look at it this way: If someone close to you had just died and you were gathered with friends and loved ones, would you not naturally recall that person’s best qualities and how much inspiration you would take from that individual’s life? You may not speak explicitly of Christ, but you would know subconsciously that your loved one’s goodness was a reflection of Christ himself, who is Goodness personified.

Christ is not dishonored because humans memorialize another human being who lived an extraordinary life. Rather, he is honored, just as an artist is honored when his masterpiece is praised. In many ways, Pope John Paul II was a masterpiece of God, and the world – even those who fundamentally disagreed with him on some issues – is intuitively recognizing that during this time of mourning.

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