Krauthammer, and Hitchens, on the Pope
Hitchens: Papal Power: John Paul II’s other legacy
“How many divisions,” Stalin is supposed to have inquired contemptuously, “has the pope?” This stupid remark is invariably quoted against him. He failed to see that the pope can indeed mobilize legions. No obituary about John Paul II, for example, will omit to mention that he exerted enormous force to change the politics of Poland. Well, good for him, I would say. (He behaved much better on that occasion than he did when welcoming Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein’s most blood-spattered henchmen, to an audience at the Vatican and then for a private visit to Assisi.) But let nobody confuse the undermining of a Stalinist bureaucracy in a majority Catholic nation with the insidious attempt to thwart or bend the law in a secular democracy. And let nobody say that this is no problem.
Krauthammer: Pope John Paul II
Under the benign and deeply humane vision of this pope, the power of faith led to the liberation of half a continent. Under the barbaric and nihilistic vision of Islam’s jihadists, the power of faith has produced terror and chaos. That contrast alone, which has dawned upon us unmistakably ever since 9/11, should be reason enough to be grateful for John Paul II. But we mourn him for more than that. We mourn him for restoring strength to the Western idea of the free human spirit at a moment of deepest doubt and despair. And for seeing us through to today’s great moment of possibility for both faith and freedom.
Two conflicting views on one man.