Pope John Paul II had ascended to Papacy on the 16th of October 1978, and since then to the last day of his life he had either been hailed as a hero or, has been accused and condemned with many controversies. He has without doubt been one of the most influential leaders of the world but at the same time he had been criticized over a number of unforgivable issues. This has brought many people to ponder whether to consider him a Friend or, Foe to the world.
To talk about why the Pope should be considered a Friend is as good as asking ‘why do we need air to survive?’ The Pope’s contribution to humanity is more than just commendable. He had almost laid down his life to free his homeland Poland of totalitarian communist regime. He was the spiritual influence behind the peaceful revolution that eventually uprooted the Soviet hegemony from not only Poland but all of Europe as well.
Pope John Paul II encouraged youth all over the world to utilize their potential for the betterment of the society as well as themselves. He initiated the World Youth Day and celebrated it himself around 19 times including his homeland Poland. For the People of Cracow where he was an Arch Bishop for 15 years people regarded him as a kind and gentle soul who ‘always had time for his flock’.
Internationally, the Pope was commended by Mikhail Gorbachev (then leader of the Soviet Union) as being the spiritual force behind the collapse of the ‘Iron Curtain’. He has also been presented with the ‘Medal of Freedom’, the highest civilian honor of America, by George W Bush in June 2004 for his dedication towards freeing the world of communism.
Irrespective of the fact that he has been the reason of spiritual inspiration and upliftment for millions, he has also been criticized and vehemently opposed because of his controversial stands on basic issues. Firstly, he faced an uproar when he expressed his views against abortion and artificial contraception, and ended up being the ‘Feminist’s Foe’. He was also criticized when he closed the doors of the Catholic Church on the topic of Women’s ordination. The Pope somehow portrayed the picture of being anti-women.
When the cases of sexual abuse of little boys and young monks by the clerical and higher Church authorities had come up, he had barred all investigation into the issue and has been accused of brushing these pervert cases under the Vatican carpet. Many called this act unforgivable.
He has also been called very autocratic and totalitarian in his ways of dealing with the Catholic Church matters. He treated the Arch Bishops as mere assistants while he ruled every nook and corner of their area in his way to which the former had to comply. It has been reported that it was because of the rigid authoritarian way of Pope John Paul II that many people had quit church altogether.
Whether friend or foe, the Pope remains a part of the lives of millions as their sole spiritual guide. Many have claimed that keeping a 24” bronze statue of the pope has filled their hearts and their houses with blessed aura.