Everybody who stayed on earth the last couple of weeks (I think most of you did), Christian or no Christian, does know pope John Paul II deceased. Although it is the second time a pope dies since I'm alive, it is the first time I experienced it consciously. That is why I want to write something about it, even though I am not a real Christian.
A couple of weeks before the pope died, I read "Angels and Demons" of Dan Brown, in which a pope dies and the election of a new pope is described as well. By this, my interest for this case had been awoken. I wanted to compare the things I read in this book with the things that were happening in reality.
Since we were overwhelmed by the news on TV, radio, newspapers, etc. I won't give an overview of the man Karol Wojtyla (yes, the Holy Father had a real name!) or the pontificate of the John Paul II. Instead, I will give my view on several things that occurred.
The appearance of the pope on Easter was very touching. He was very sick and did not manage to pronounce "Urbi et Orbi" for the first time in his life, although he tried very hard. It was very sad to see such an affected man; a man who probably realized it was the last time he would appear for the religious people.
The telecasts following the days of the death of John Paul II were incredible: the St-Peter's square and the streets around were full of people who wanted to greet the deceased pope for the last time. People had to stay in line for about twelve hours, and a lot of people did not even manage to see the pope since they were too many. When people have to stand in line for so many hours, I'm always wondering how they manage to eat, drink, and especially go to toilet! You can not leave your place in these situations, not even for one second, can you?
Curious as I was, I watched a piece of the funeral, that was broadcasted all over the world. This time, even more people were gathered in Rome: 4 million people attended the funeral that lasted 2,5 hours. Three hundred and sixty priests were needed to give all those present a chance to go to Communion. Unbelievable!
I was a bit disappointed when seeing the coffin: I thought that a man, who was called the Holy Father, would get a very adorned coffin that is set on a height during the church service. But as we all could see, the coffin was very simple; only a cross and "M" of Maria on the upper side. Furthermore, it was put on the ground. Although, it was put on a mosaic that was made after the pope was shot in 1981, it was still strange to see the coffin was not set on a height. They said it was the pope's wish to have a funeral (and gravestone) very soberly, in line with his austerely life…
The election of the new pope went very fast. Only 4 election rounds were needed to select a new Holy Father. When I turned on the television that day, I saw again a lot of people on the St-Peter's square. Immediately, I realized a new pope had been chosen. Since all these people were gathered again, I thought they already knew who the new pope was. But a few minutes later it became clear the new pope was not announced yet. Can we conclude then that (religious) people don't really mind who the pope is, as long as they have a pope? That is a bit strange, no…?
According to me, it was no surprise the German cardinal Ratzinger appeared on the balcony. I must say that, even as a not real Christian, it made my flesh creep when I heard the famous words "habemus papam".
Now it is waiting whether this pope will yearly express the well-known words "Bedankt voor die bloemen" to the Dutch- and Flemish-speaking people as well, or whether he will pronounce a new sentence…