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Pope's suffering a potent Easter witness

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 Contents - Apr 2005AD2000 April 2005 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Pope's suffering a potent Easter witness - Michael Gilchrist
Australia prepares for World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne - AD2000 Report
News: The Church Around the World
'Flying bishops' consecrated for orthodox Anglicans - Fr Nigel Zimmerman
Exploding myths about the 'pre-Vatican II' Church - John Young
Vocations: Why some new religious orders are attracting recruits - Fr John Hogan
Events: Carnivale Christi returning to Sydney with an Easter theme - Liz Arblaster and Anthony McCarthy
Cardinal Ratzinger: Liturgy should be God-centred - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Letters: Dissent - Fr John Speekman
Scripture: So, what else did Jesus say? - Gavan O'Farrell
Adore 05: Sydney's successful Eucharistic Youth Congress - Nicole Osmak
Letters: ACU - Sabina Sannen
Letters: Chavagnes International College - Raymond De Souza
Letters: Teaching the faith - Rosanna Sherman
Letters: Stations of the Cross - D.T.S. Moorhouse
Letters: Religious habit - Fr G.H. Duggan SM
Letters: Practice of faith - Br Con Moloney CFC
Letters: Confession - J.G. Wilson
Letters: Talking in Church - Judith McRae
Letters: Christ the Creator - Gerard J. Keane
Letters: Good news - Geoff Storey
Letters: Pregnancy Assistance - Brian A. Peachey
Books: The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church - Michael Casanova (reviewer)
Books: Love Alone Is Credible, by Hans urs von Balthasar - Kerrie Allen (reviewer)
Books: Mass Without a Congregation: A Sign of Unity or Division? - Michael Gilchrist (reviewer)
Poetry: A Centurion Reflects - Bruce Dawe
Books: Religious resources for 2005
Reflection: Pope John Paul II: 'In the risen Christ all creation rises to new life' - Pope John Paul II
Marian Valley Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians, Canungra

No other public figure has had his deteriorating physical condition and sufferings on such prolonged public display as Pope John Paul II. In recent weeks, his pain-wracked face and barely audible voice have been featured, analysed and discussed in the media.

Ever since the unsuccessful attempt on his life in 1981, John Paul II's medical condition has been under the media microscope. At the time he assumed the Papacy in 1978 and for many years after, he was a physically strong and impressive-looking man. But by the 1990s, his age and many infirmities had begun to take their visible toll; and he lives now only by a superhuman act of the will.

His inability to preside over this year's Holy Week ceremonies in St Peter's Basilica emphasise his humanity, while inevitably raising speculation about his ability to keep going.

In 1994, he told Catholics: "The Pope must suffer so that every family and the world should see that there is, I would say, a higher gospel: the gospel of suffering, with which one must prepare the future." When asked if he would consider resigning, he was said to have responded: "Did Christ come down from the cross?"

John Paul II's determination to "take up his cross" has underscored his insistent articulation of the central Christian teaching on the intrinsic sacredness of human life from the moment of conception to the end of one's earthly span of years.

In short, as we recall Christ's death and resurrection on Easter Sunday, the Pope's own Calvary has proved to be his most powerful message.

  • Michael Gilchrist: Editor (email -

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 18 No 3 (April 2005), p. 2

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