Eastern students, profs respond to Pope John Paul II’s passing

All across the world, a tremdous outpouring of grief came at the death of Pope John Paul II. Eastern, though a Protestant university, is no exception.

“I was shocked when he died,” said junior Jen Rump, who converted to Catholicism last year. “He was such an important figure in the Catholic Church and the world.

“He brought a lot of reform into the Catholic Church,” she said. “If the Catholic Church is going to maintain the social relation Pope John Paul II strove for, a leader must be elected that shows awareness of society and social change.”

“Pope John Paul II was an amazing individual,” senior Steve Krening said. “I have much respect for him. He really represented the face of Christianity well by confronting evils around the world. This boldness is needed in the Church today.”

Though saddened by the Pope’s passing, Krening eagerly looks ahead to see who the next Pope will be.

“I am fascinated at the prospect of a changed papacy in light of the fact that one of the nominees for the next Pope is Nigerian,” Krening said.

After talking to Tony Campolo, Krening found that those in Nigeria are more concerned with the environment than those in the North. Were a Nigerian to fill the office of the Pope, the papacy’s focus could face a shift from matters directly involving the people, such as communism, homosexuality and abortion to indirect ones such as the environment.

Senior Mick Overgard began as a Protestant and became anti-papal before eventually appreciating the role of the Pope and then becoming Orthodox over the course of his life in the faith. He found his reactions to the Pope’s death hard to define.

“He was a great man. I have been saddened by his passing, more so than expected,” Overgard said. “I have prayed for the dead before, but Pope John Paul II is the first religious figure I have prayed for who has died in my lifetime.”

“He’ll be remembered as the best Pope since Leo 13th,” said history professor Gary Jenkins.

“A positive aspect of his papacy was that he tried to rein in the lunacy of liberal Catholicism,” Jenkins said. “A negative one would be that the discipline aspects of his papacy were lacking. He gave us a sexual theology in a patristic understanding that basically advocated that passions are to be feared.”

Theology professor Christopher Hall, dean of the Templeton Honors College, met Pope John Paul II in Rome a year ago this December. Hall was being commemorated by the Vatican on the Italian translation of a 28-volume series he was involved in, called the Ancient Christian Commentaries on Scripture.

“The whole experience was like a deer before a car’s headlights,” Hall said of their meeting. “He radiated love and holiness in a wonderful combination.

“Now that he’s gone, it is a sad time, but a joyful one too. He is a man that will be remembered for living a life out of integrity with a strong sense of genuineness.”

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