Where were they then?

Where were they then?

Daniel Henninger wonders in the Wall Street Journal where all these talking heads praising Pope John Paul were before he died. For all the praise heaped on him now, there was little praise for him when he was with us.

In the West, where a life of faith or belief was free for the asking, the Pope’s message of spiritual renewal encountered a more sophisticated politics. Here it was understood that if one abetted a popularization of John Paul, it risked also elevating visibility for “Vatican” policies in other realms—abortion, sexual practice or preference, stem-cell research, the ordination of women, and all that.

And so it came to pass in beat reporting and liberal church circles that this pope—notwithstanding his affinities on the death penalty or economics or war—was described to the world as a “conservative.” That is to say, he was ultimately an opposition political force to be kept at arm’s length. It worked.

Until now. John Paul in death is proving a force equal to and possibly more powerful than what he was in life. Past some point this week it became clear that this pope’s death was building into something else—a spirit moving in the room perhaps, whose ultimate effects and direction are hard to predict.

This past week has been amazing time in which the realities of Catholic faith have been exposed for all the world to see and hear. Of course, by next week their attention will turn to the conclave and their hope for a liberal, heterodox pope and after that back to the inanities of the world. But for a brief moment, they stood transfixed and blinking, the veil of a worldly blindness removed from their eyes, seeing the truth of the Gospel proclaimed and not quite knowing what to do with it. For most the veil will return quickly. Perhaps for others, with hearts and minds open to the Truth, it will remain with them for a while.

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