I believe the dead should be remembered as they were, not as we would have had them.
An atheist, raised Methodist, I've nevertheless always been somewhat in awe of the office of the Papacy. But I've often wondered whether that was due to some familial kinship -- some hearkening back to the origins of Christian churches -- or due to the man who has held the office for more than half of my lifetime.
The Papacy is one of the single most important political offices in the world. Make no mistake: It is a political office, and I would argue even more so than a religious office. So it's entirely appropriate, purely on those grounds, to attend to the death of Karol Joseph Wojtyla. And even if his office didn't bear the weight that it does, he might very well. His presence was forceful; one eulogist after another has spoken of his quiet but absolute confidence the seem again and again to be describing something like intellectual courage. Something like honor.
John Paul II has an enormously problematic legacy. His interpretation of dogma is arguably responsible for exacerbating the spread of AIDS, for the birth of tens of millions of unwanted children -- and, implicitly and indirectly, for tens of millions of abortions -- for tacitly endorsing sexual intolerance and squelching processes that could have led to greater and more rapid spread of freedom throughout Latin America. He appears to have been actively complicit in helping American Catholic dioceses to avoid the consequences of sexual abuse on the part of their priests.
And at the same time, he is arguably responsible for the collapse of the Polish communist state -- for toppling-back the first domino. Hist moral example in forgiving his own would-be assassin made a huge impact on me. And he found ways to reach across sectarian boundaries and to admit some of the failings of the church.
Nevertheless, his legacy is immensely ambivalent. Only time will tell whether the world can approach it objectively.