The pope died on Saturday. It might seem like that shouldn't matter to a protestant like me, but it does. Regardless of whether you're protestant or catholic, the Pope sets the spiritual temperature of Christendom. Perhaps it's time for that to change. But the reality of it is certainly still there, regardless of whether we like it.
In many ways, the church is at a turning point. Catholicism has still remained a bastian of controlled conservativism. That could all change if the "noisy" folks have their way. The rights of the unborn, and basically every cause of righteousness in the world will take a beating if a liberal pope is elected. The problem is this: the "noisy" folks lack balance. It seems like we just can't have people who embrace justice without simultaneously embracing ungodly agendas, placing human reasoning above God's. Johannes Paolo II was one of the few who could hold onto some semblance of that delicate balance.
On the other hand, Johannes Paolo II was also so bent on church polity that he sacrificed scripture, at times. We can (and should) let women and married men into the priesthood without embracing every Tom, Dick or Harry that comes along. We can bend on contraception without rejecting the "culture of life" (a term coined by John Paul II, *not* George W. Bush).
We need to pray for a man of courage, a man of balance. This papacy has been a difficult time--but Johannes Paolo II was a good man with good intentions. Let us pray that we have the same again--a good man with good intentions.
Furthermore, let us all be that: good men of good intentions. The Lord knows our hearts.