There are a great many things about the end of the Pope that are disturbing to me, but an 84 year old man dying is least among them. This brings to mind how I find sympathy over the deaths of people I don't know hard to come by. Sure, I feel the tragedy of death and loss just as much as anyone, but it's difficult to know what to say or how to react when someone you only know through other people or from the tv has passed on. Evidence that I am not alone in this is everywhere, as people weep hysterically, talk about what a shame it is to lose the Pope, and generally recount how important and wonderful of a man he was.
Firstly, the man was 84 years old, past the normal life expectancy, and certainly past it for anyone who's survived an attempted assassination! Anyone who's heard the Pope speaking in the last two years or so knows that he's been growing more feeble and unintelligible with his advanced age and health problems. That he is finally at rest should be a comforting thought, not a sad one. He honestly had little left to offer the world, he had more than done his share of good here, and each and every one of us is going to have our ticket called at some point. It's not a shame that he died, it's the natural conclusion to a long life, well-spent. If we consider it a shame, it means to suggest that we would have liked him to live longer, probably indefinitely. For what?
Next, the man was no doubt a wonderful guy and he's always been a strong leader of his people in that very non-binding way that the Catholic chruch is set up. He's always held a firm stance on moral issues and he's been a high profile moral compass for a lot of folks who don't want to look for answers but like them handed down from an authority. That said, the man was adhering to a strictly conservative Biblical worldview that didn't jive or provide much relevant guidance in the modern world. No birth control? No women as priests? No homosexuals? If the Pope had been a Senator from Alabama, he would have been villified and people would have cheered his death like the end of the old guard. But he's the Pope, and he is given near-instant saint-dom in the eyes of so many people who see him as a peaceful, loving older man. I'm sure he was that, but he wasn't a voice for tremendous social common sense.
Finally, the very public display of his dead body seems a bit crass and full of the kind of idolitry that the Catholic church is always bordering on. The Bible doesn't provide for lavish chruches, huge beauracracies, public worship of a man of the church like JP, and all the other materialistic and sensationalist things they have and do there in Vatican City. Nevertheless, people look past all of that and see wonders in the Pope, they treat him like a religious rock star and just fall over themselves to see him wave from a bullet-proof car. I just don't get it. There's a great line from a Public Enemy song that asks "where Christ is in all this crisis?" and while I don't have much at stake in the question personally, I find it apt to describe this situation. John Paul seemed like a nice man, certainly. He was a good communicator and the kind of guy that I would imagine I'd aspire to be like if I were Catholic. But that to me, seems like it's missing the point.