Press "Enter" to skip to content

Millions Mourn Death of John Paul II


More than 10 million people filed through St. Peter’s Square on the first day of the pope’s funeral viewing last Tuesday.

Pope John Paul II died Saturday morning in Rome after battling with breathing problems, kidney failure and a high fever.

“He was really sick and very old,” said junior Esther Lucero. “He needed to move on.”

The extensive media coverage of the pope’s death is something that no one has been able to ignore.

“When a president dies, the same kind of thing happens. But if someone of a different faith died, it wouldn’t get as much publicity. We have world-renowned rabbis that won’t get the same publicity when they die,” said Brynn Shiovitz, a freshwoman and member of the Jewish Student Union at Mills.

The Vatican will spend the next two to three weeks electing a new pope and mourning the death of John Paul II, who served as the pope for 26 years.

There are six papabilis or potential popes, from around the world including Nigeria, Brazil, Honduras, Germany, Austria and Italy. The papabilis will be voted on 15-20 days after the pope’s death.

As tens of millions mourn and pray for the Pope, they reflected on the legacy of a man who held the highest seat in the Catholic Church, for the second longest period of time.

John Paul II was an advocate for human rights, sexual restraint and Catholic tradition. As an active participant in the Vatican II from 1962-1965, a Catholic movement that focused on reforming the Catholic Church to be more prevalent in the modern world, John Paul II supported the church translating their liturgy into the native languages of other countries. He also focused on being more open to the ideas of other sects of Christianity and faiths.

John Paul II was also an advocate for the poor and needy, and stressed that “human rights should be put before financial gain.”

It is with sexuality however, that many took issue with the Pope’s beliefs. John Paul II came down as firmly conservative in the areas of birth control, feminism and gay rights. Those who have outwardly questioned the Pope’s stance on these subjects, such as Reverend Matthew Fox of Holy Names University in Oakland, have been subsequently shunned by the Vatican. Afterward, Fox was no longer allowed to teach religion.

John Paul II turned his attention to the United States in the 1990s after the exposure of numerous child molestations in churches across the country. It wasn’t until spring of 2002, after hundreds of priests had resigned because of investigations of abuse cases, that the Pope met in Rome with a dozen U.S. cardinals, according the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I think he compromised a lot [by not addressing the issue sooner] and put Christianity into question. He made the rest of the world question it,” said sophomore Misrac Kassa, a member of Workers of Faith.

The Pope also worked hard to keep the base of Catholic power in Rome. He has spoken in opposition to all kinds of abortion and the ordination of women.

With changing world views, the Congress of Cardinals may have a difficult time electing a new pope. According to an AP poll, one quarter of Americans identify as Catholic. Of those who identify as Catholic, 78 percent believe in birth control, 63 percent believe priests should be allowed to marry, 59 percent are for the Catholic Church easing its doctrine on stem cell research and 55 percent believe the priesthood should be opened to women.