I don't intend to back up my verbal dump truck and unload my theological pronouncements in an attempt to hide that pile of praise. Rather, it seems appropriate to ponder how the Pope used his position of influence to pave the way for the Presidents Bush to preside over the unleashing of human liberty one nation at a time. It occurred to me today that three people--Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II--came to prominent positions on the world stage at about the same time and left it forever changed.
It turns out that George Weigel of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and John Fund of The Wall Street Jounal thought these thoughts first.
Weigel best summarizes the moral of this story:
Several lessons can be drawn from this analysis. First, the experience of John Paul II suggests that “civil society” is not simply institutional: a free press, free trade unions, free business organizations, free associations, etc. “Civil society” has an essential moral core.
Secondly, John Paul’s strategy reminds us that “power” cannot be measured solely in terms of aggregates of military or economic capability. The “power of the powerless” is a real form of power.
In the third place, the Pope’s impact demonstrates that non-state actors count in contemporary world politics, and sometimes in decisive ways. John Paul II did not shape the history of our times as the sovereign of the Vatican City micro-state, but as the Bishop of Rome and the universal pastor of the Catholic Church.
In other words, power over people's souls wields immeasurable influence. Absolute power over people's souls . . . well, I'll leave that thought unfinished. Suffice it to say that the the last book of the New Testament further buttresses this point. May we beware the misnomer that only the Roman Catholic Church wields such power. Spiritual influence cuts both ways.