‘I Wondered With Great Admiration’
Pope Francis is not the only pope to spark a media frenzy. The funeral of Pope John Paul ii in 2005 and the subsequent election of Pope Benedict xvi also consumed hundreds of hours and millions of dollars of airtime. The world—and certainly the media in the United States—was absolutely fixated by the spectacle of somber processionals, engraved accouterments and cassocked clergy intoning Latin utterances. This fascination would be more or less expected in Catholic-dominated countries. But why in the United States?
The Catholic Church has commanded admiration and fear for two millennia. Its power has waxed and waned and waxed again depending on a combination of its sway over Catholic adherents, its absorption of other religions, its wealth, its intelligence gathering and its interweaving with political leaders—and their armies. But it has endured.
A few years after He died, the resurrected Jesus Christ showed the Apostle John a symbol of a great church that would be a political power, interrelate with the governments of many nations, adorn itself richly, ally with the beastly Roman Empire and actually persecute non-Catholic Christians as heretics. And even John himself marveled at this church, and recorded this vision in the book of Revelation.
Why? Because of its power. Because of its ability to exert its will.
Were the gushing journalists you saw covering the papacy moved by the doctrines of the pope and/or the Vatican? Do they respect the belief that the Earth was created by God? Do they get misty-eyed thinking about how God came to Earth and became a man? Do thrills run up their legs over the Catholic tenet that only those who come to God through Jesus Christ can be saved—and all others are damned to eternal hellfire?
Or are they paying lip service to the beliefs and words of this man because of the thing that really matters to them: that he commands 1 billion people. Is it because of his power?