'I Fear For My Country'

J$P Instant Transcript! Comments and remembrances of John Paul II from George Schultz, Shepard Smith, Radek Sikorski, Charles Krauthammer, Jim Pinkerton, Ellen Ratner, William Donahue, and more.

From Fox News, April 1-2 2005:

SHEPARD SMITH [FOX NEWS ]: What a wonderful example he has been in his last days here. I was thinking just yesterday, after in the morning we had the death in Florida at a hospice that was so difficult for all of us. I know it was for the family, and I wouldn't want to even compare the difficulty that all of us had watching it and listening to to the difficulty that they had. But let's face facts. It was a very difficult and divisive thing. And I was thinking how horrible it would be if feeding tube vs feeding tube, these two stories, became grouped into one. And now 24 hours later, it almost seems like a good thing.

ANDREW NAGORSKI [NEWSWEEK]: Right now in Poland they are going through a lot of secret police files, and the Polish secret police in the Communist days had a special department that was simply devoted to spying on the Church. And they took great pains to try to find clerics that they could enlist as informers....This cleric happened to be very envious that this young priest had been elevated to Bishop. He felt he should have been. And he began writing these reports about Wojtyla and saying, oh, here's this priest who's now a Bishop who's very popular. Don't take him seriously; he's a lightweight. Even the secret police, which is not necessarily known as the smartest organization, began to figure out wait a minute, we're missing something here....This was a very media-savvy Pope, and I traveled with him a lot in the early 80s when I was covering the Vatican. And the normal procedure was that the press was in the back of the plane, in the economy class essentially, and the Vatican party, including the Pope, was in the front. And they were separate during most of the trip. But usually towards the end of the trip, the Pope would wander back, and the protocol was: everybody would stand up, you wouldn't clog up the aisles, he would come around and give you a chance to ask a question or two. What was really impressive, here was an international press corps throwing out questions in many languages, and he would usually answer in the language of the questioner. That immediately told you something about this Pope.

GEORGE SCHULTZ [FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE]: He seemed to have a global reach in his thinking, but there was always a consistency to what he thought. Just as there was a consistency about what President Reagan thought. They worked together very well in that sense. President Reagan, of course, had two or three meetings with the Pope. But there was a constant stream--we had a policy of keeping the Pope fully informed about what we were doing and what we were thinking. So that we sought his counsel and also we wanted him to know what we were doing and why we were doing it. For example, President Reagan had the idea that the notion of negotiations to limit the increase of nuclear arms was all wrong, that you wanted to reduce them. He thought that nuclear arms were immoral, and the Pope of course shared that view entirely, and was very supportive of our effort to have a negotiation, which turned out to be successful at reducing nuclear armaments.

RADEK SIKORSKI [FORMER DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, POLAND]: This is a moment at which you feel a thousand years of Polish Christianity on your shoulders... It's the end of the transformative pontificate.... He has visited a leper colony in Africa. He has washed the feet of Rome beggars. He wanted to go to besieged Sarajevo. He was the first Pope to visit Auschwitz, the first Pope to visit the Rome Synagogue.... What a life. The biggest Pole who ever lived probably, certainly since Copernicus. We will feel very lonely when John Paul II is no longer with us. He has helped to liberate us from Communism. He has given Poland the kind of spiritual center, a spiritual anchor, in its most difficult times. I fear for my country.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER [FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR]: He spoke for a kind of humanism that was sort of lost in the decadence of the Soviet system at that time....In the same way that the black Church in America sort of housed and abetted the civil rights movement, he made the Church a sanctuary in Poland and then in the other countries of Eastern Europe for the dissidents. And there was a place where they were essentially safe and could organize. And with that institutional structure, and his example and his exhortations, he was essentially an insurgent. And he created an insurgency in Eastern Europe. While Thatcher and Reagan and the political leaders were weakening Moscow, he was working on the inside. And essentially that's how the Soviet system collapsed. He made himself an opponent of consumerism...and also what he saw as cultural decadence in the West. And he spoke out against it strongly, as he was on a lot of the moral issues, in Eastern Europe, also in Europe and also in America, which made him somewhat unpopular with the more liberal elements.

JIM PINKERTON [FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR]: The amount of coverage is entirely fitting for the momentous effect he's had on all of our lives, on the world, for the last quarter century. Including here in America. I don't think it's entirely coincidence that the Pope became Pope in 1979, and Ronald Reagan was elected the next year, and that the conservatives have dominated most of American politics for the last quarter century. And also around the world too. The fall of Communism, the rise of Margaret Thatcher in Britain, I think they're linked. The hidden history, and there's a guy named Peter Schweitzer wrote a book about Reagan, Thatcher, and the Pope vs the Soviets--I think that one is clear. Just to learn about how the Pope was agitating to build churches in Poland in the 60s and 70s, long before Reagan and the anti-Communist wave in the West. So he was, clearly, of all the areas where he had stagecraft in his head, it was Eastern Europe and the Soviets.

ELLEN RATNER [FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR]: I consider him actually fairly radical. He was the first Pope to have a world vision, to really go around the world. He's visited more countries than most of us could ever name on a geography test. He absolutely understood the issues of poverty and the third world. He made that front and center. He was against the Iraq War. And so I consider him in many ways, although some of his view on abortion etc are certainly not radical, but he has very radical views around the issue of poverty....He went and visited the man who shot him, in jail. And he forgave him. And that to me is very important as to the kind of way we need to be treating people who sometimes harm us....He's against the death penalty, but people haven't paid attention to that message of his....A friend of mine just left the Catholic priesthood, for many ideological reasons, but believes that we are going to see a female Catholic priest.

PINKERTON: I'm not so sure. They've created a category in the Catholic Church called Minister of the Eucharist, which has a lot of the same functions but is not a priest. So I think there may be some, if you will, compromise. But I'm not 100% sure that something that St Peter ordained 2,000 years ago is going to change. Sorry, Ellen.

WILLIAM DONAHUE [PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE]: These last couple of weeks have given everybody in this country some second thoughts. It has nothing to do with being Catholic. It has to do with the question of mortality. And we live in a society of instant gratification, and what I want with my blackberries, and I want this and instant that. And we realize, a little wake-up call folks here, we're going to go one day. But you know what I was struck by? This fellow who is not Catholic, the Roman visitor, the guy from Atlanta? What did he say? He said, this man speaks in terms of moral absolutes. Listen to that. We live in a country which is so confused morally. It's like I believe in this, you believe in that. The Pope says no, there are some things which are intrinsically wrong. And that's very appealing, particularly to a lot of young people. The bar is very high. I'm not saying that I can always jump over it myself; I need some help. But better that, than to drop the bar.

JEAN KIRKPATRICK [FORMER UN AMBASSADOR]: I really knew the Pope principally not through President Reagan, but through his good friend and mine, Cardinal John J O'Connor....They had become close personal friends, and Cardinal O'Connor talked to me quite a lot about this Pope's vision of our times and our work and what he hoped to accomplish, and how he worked with Cardinal O'Connor. The reason that Cardinal O'Connor talked to me about it was that he was a student of mine for a period at Georgetown. Cardinal O'Connor was also an Admiral in the US Navy and a man who had studied clinical psychology, and who became progressively convinced that this Pope was simply an extraordinary person, as well as a man who was likely to be an extraordinary Pope....He talked a lot to him about the Church and what he hoped to make of the Church. And how he hoped to shape the opportunities that were available to him, which were very many. At this moment the Communist Party in Poland as well as elsewhere was beginning the change, to fall apart you might say. And the Pope talked to Cardinal O'Connor about what kind of special opportunity, but also special burden, it put on all of them to try to take advantage of this opportunity. The fact is the Pope believed, as Cardinal O'Connor believed, that Communism was a very significant challenge to all persons of faith in the world. And they did not pretend that they were neutral with regard to Communism....they took a quite different view.

posted: Fri - April 1, 2005 at 06:12 PM       j$p  send