'He Broke the Mold in Every Way'

J$P Instant Transcript! Reactions to the death of John Paul II from Chris Wallace, John Moody, Shep Smith, Ray Flynn, Rita Cosby, Colin Powell.

From Fox News, April 2-3 2005:

RITA COSBY [FOX NEWS]: This was one of the most amazing moments of my life. It was 2001 and I got a call, I was in Rome on vacation. I got a call, and they said the Pope would like to see you on Wednesday. It was a Monday night, I'll never forget it. My jaw just dropped, and of course I said, of course I'm going to come see the Holy Father. My father is Polish, and we spoke about my father as a Polish resistance fighter. We talked about the death penalty, because I got a letter from Timothy McVeigh that he was very interested in. And we talked about his Polish upbringing. It was one of the most amazing experiences....I got to hold his hand, and I looked at his face, and you could see these amazing, lucid blue eyes. This was 2001; he already had Parkinson's. And yet he was so alert and so lively....I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of world leaders, but walking away from the Pope I was awestruck.

JOHN MOODY [BIOGRAPHER, FOX NEWS SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT]: I don't think he would see this as an occasion for mourning. Death to John Paul II is the gateway to Paradise. He's now been admitted through that gateway, and I'm sure he's looking back and looking at us with that same smile that he always used whenever he saw great crowds, and telling them what he always said: Be not afraid....He broke the mold in every way: first Slav, first non-Italian for almost five centuries. When he got out there on that platform and started talking to them in Italian--Romans are a fickle crowd, they like their own. You could even say that they are not always the most welcoming of hosts. But when he got out and did that, and when he used the colloquial Italian, and when he said if I make a mistake, just tell me about it, they immediately were on his side. He did that with every group that he met. When he came to America, which he did several times, and I was privileged to fly over air with him a couple of times, he would start talking about the founding fathers. And he would ask questions: do you think Benjamin Franklin really meant what he said when he wrote? And you'd look at him and you'd say, how do you know all this stuff? And he said, because I'm coming to America. He loved the freedom here. He thought we took it for granted; he thought we went too far with it sometimes. It was his feeling that America had to lead the world in material ways without becoming too materialistic....He saw suffering as a gift from God. We in America tend to try to get rid of suffering, alleviate it, have as little as possible. He welcomed suffering. I'm saying he was masochistic in any way. He understood that when you suffer, and when you suffer in God's name, that it's a form of grace, and that it brought you closer to God. This is a hard lesson for Americans to learn. We take an aspirin if we cut our toenails too close. But he was absolutely fixated on the idea of living his life as God would have wanted him to live it. And of course he was a shining example for all the rest of us as well.

CHRIS WALLACE [FOX NEWS]: You can't help but admire his extraordinary moral authority....In 1982, and I was covering that trip, Ronald Reagan and the Pope met at the Vatican. And it turns out that in a private conversation they talked about Communism, and agreed that they thought that it could end in their lifetimes. Now I don't know anybody else in the world who thought that it was going to end in their lifetimes, but both of them did. Of course, John Paul had already three years earlier gone to Poland. One of his very first trips in the first year of his Papacy. And an astonishing statistic that I heard, one third of all the people in Poland had turned out for his masses across the country as he spoke about human rights and human dignity and human liberty, at a time when Poland was under Soviet domination. And the Communist authorities there were absolutely powerless to stop, or unwilling to stop, this tremendous outpouring of support. And then three years later him meeting with Ronald Reagan, the other great cold warrior, and the two of them in effect saying, you know what, we're going to pull this off. I don't mean that there was any kind of strategic planning between the two of them, but clearly these were two people traveling along the same path to try to end the oppression, the domination of the Communists, over large portions of the planet....But he was also against the idea of this great coalition that was going to, by force, push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, and in fact the Ambassador, the US Ambassador Thomas Milady, went to him and said wait a minute, you think this is immoral that he's gone into Kuwait. This is a moral war. He said, no no, war is never moral--you figure it out. But it was the kind of thing a Pope could say, a President couldn't.

SHEPARD SMITH [FOX NEWS]: In the early moments, when the doctors around him literally thought that the Pope was slipping away and slipping away quickly, news organizations around the world began to cover this process in an in-depth way, and caused discussions of this kind to happen all over the world. And one thing I hadn't thought about until I received an email just about a minute ago, from a Fox News contributor named Tim Susanan, is the time of day that this is happening, and what it means to families across the United States. Middle of the day, on Fox, NASCAR. Moms and dads at home with their children. A regular Saturday afternoon television ritual interrupted by this sight, in one of the world's great ancient cities, with one of the world's great ancient traditions. And whether you believe in the doctrine of the Church and the teaching of the Church, there's certainly a message here from this strong man, whose lesson among many others was, that suffering is not a bad thing. That finishing a task to the end and giving it all you have is the right thing to do. And that death is not something to fear....All part of the preachings and teachings of Pope John Paul II, and certainly being shared by millions upon millions of Americans in many different ways, in living rooms across the United States and for that matter around the world today. On a Saturday afternoon there, or evening here, with families at home together--something my guess is John Paul II would have liked very much.

AMBASSADOR RAY FLYNN: The two most important things I'm aware of that I feel now emotionally is the relationship that he had with young people. So many thousands of young people have traveled throughout Italy, throughout Europe, to be here and to share in this extraordinary moment of history. The connection that he had with young people is something that I'll always reflect on. And also in the last three weeks, with this Schiavo case going on in America, the dignity in which he died, the way which John Paul II even up to his last moment, taught the people how to live and how to respect life, and how to respect the dignity of life. Just absolutely amazing the life that this man led and the impact that he's had. When they write the legacy of great leaders in America or across the world, I think John Paul II is going to be the one or two or three world leaders that have really made a mark in society.

COLIN POWELL [FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE]: I felt a sudden sadness and a weight descend upon me, because I had first met the Pope 20 years and I've watched his career and I'd met him a number of times since. And this truly was a man of God; this truly was a man of the people. And I think he had an enormous impact on the world during the course of his papacy. In the summer of 2003 I was granted an audience with His Holiness, and I went in expecting a brief ten-minute session. And suddenly everybody left the room and it was just His Holiness and me alone. No interpreters or anything. And the audience went for 30 minutes. And we talked about Iraq. We talked about how we were moving from a conflict to reconstruction; we were moving toward democracy. We talked about the Middle East because I was on my way to the Middle East for the summits that were going to be held there to announce the peace plan. And he was so interested and so engaged, even though his health at that time was starting to fail. He was such an easy person to be around and to converse with. He was a humble man, with all of his pomp and circumstances and attendants around him, he himself was a humble man. And we had a terrific conversation. And it reminded me, frankly, of the first time we met him. It was in 1985, roughly. My wife and I were part of a group that went in for an audience. And we have told many people since then, when we met him and exchanged greetings with him and touched him, it was a magic moment. It was an electric moment. It really was something that was unique. And I'm a soldier; we don't allow our emotions to get away from us. But in this case, Alma and I, my wife and I, both came away thinking we really had been in the presence of somebody who was quite special.

POWELL: His greatness was that, when he didn't see eye to eye with you, he would express his opinions. He opposed war....He always would try to see if there was not a way to achieve the political goal, to solve the problem, through diplomacy and politics. That's my view as well. But sometimes war is necessary, and you have to prosecute such a war. But the war was over when I saw him in June of 2003, and we were looking forward. He was looking forward with us. And he wanted to do everything he could to help us in bringing democracy and peace and security to the people of Iraq....When you look at where he was growing up, and at the very youthful age seeing what was happening in Europe under the thumb of the Nazis, he had a hatred of totalitarianism of any form. And he could see that Communism was just another form of totalitarianism. And he witnessed against it, and he fought against it, and he spoke against it. But he didn't scream against it. He just spoke against it, and that moral power that he had as this important religious figure, who expanded beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church to become a religious figure for all of us and a source of moral authority for the whole world....We all believe in the same basic faith: that there is an Almighty, that he moves in mysterious ways, and that we all should abide by the tenets of our faith, which is to live humbly with one another, to reach out to each other, to try to achieve peace among the peoples of the world, to help those who are in need. This is the faith that he led; it's the faith that we all should try to lead in our daily lives.

posted: Sat - April 2, 2005 at 05:29 PM       j$p  send