The world recently lost Pope John Paul II when he died of cardiovascular collapse and septic shock on Saturday.

The UR community was saddened by the event and admires the pope for his accomplishments.

“The pope’s death is definitely a major loss to the world – religiously, politically and even economically – in terms of the deep commitment he had toward the poor,” Director of Chaplaincy Services Father Brian Cool said.

John Henry Newman Associate Professor of Roman Catholic Studies Curt Cadorette stated that the death of John Paul II marks the end of an era in the Catholic Church. “This era was characterized by the centralization of church affairs in Rome and a conservative stance on moral and theological issues,” he said.

Many Catholic students on campus felt very close to the tragedy that was occuring so far away.

“A lot of people on this campus who aren’t Catholic don’t really understand the significance of this event,” Vice President of Community Development of the Newman Community and junior Kat Abejuela said. “The pope signifies the Catholic Church’s unity, although we are a diverse group of people. To have a pause in that unity in the interim period between two popes might be harmful.”

The pope was hospitalized on March 31 and passed away three days later.

“The pope’s death wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone who followed his life, and in the last few years, it was almost painful to see him struggle most of the time,” junior Jennifer Muniak said. “However, I guess that is just an example of his unfailing spirit, caring more about arousing change than his own comfort level. I view him as an incredible role model above all else. He found faith and courage through incredible adversity.”

Many admire the pope for his ability to bring together people across all horizons – both national and religious.

“As a native of Poland, I am in solidarity with my countrymen and women in mourning the pope,” Director of Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies Professor Ewa Hauser said. “I especially appreciate his legacy in terms of the national and religious reconciliation between Polish Catholics and other faiths and his firm stand in condemning anti-Semitism and any form of religious bigotry. I am deeply saddened by his passing.”

While some did not agree with all his beliefs, most still respect him for his conduct and positive changes. “While I personally feel that some of his views are outdated, I understand the pressure he must have felt to turn the tide of the world’s moral atmosphere,” Muniak said.

The pope was recognized for his open-mindedness for all religions and all people.

“Although I do not agree with all his opinions, he seems to me to have been a sweet and a good man,” Associate Professor of Classics Alfred Geier said. “But what stands out for me among his actions is his visiting mosques and traveling to all those countries. This shows, in my opinion, how truly Catholic he was.”

Chair of the department of Religion and Classics Edward Wierenga emphasized some of his philosophical and theological strengths.

“Two of his encyclicals in particular, come to mind. One, ‘Fides et Ratio,’ includes a defense of reason that would surprise those who accuse religious believers of irrationality,” he said. “Another, ‘Salvifici Doloris,’ contains a very sensitive discussion of the role of suffering in the world. It’s a real contribution to debate about the problem of evil,” Wierenga said.

As the world mourns this profound loss, the question of who is to be the next pope is already a subject of much debate.

“The next pope will face an array of challenges, especially with the emergence of a non-Western church whose majority members reside in Africa and Latin America,” Cadorette said. “Crucial decisions lie ahead, and hopefully a new papacy will animate the Catholic Church to face them courageously.”

“I hope that the next pope will bring about some reform and give the church a push in the liberal direction,” sophomore Nicole Boschi said. “One thing the next pope definitely has to do is keep up with the traveling that John Paul II did. His attitude shouldn’t be like, ‘I’m in Rome, and this is what I do.'”

“The next pope will have to fill big shoes,” Cool said. “He needs to maintain the interfaith dialogue between the various religious sects that was started and flourished under Pope John Paul II’s care.”

The future of the Catholic church rests heaviliy on the views and ambitions of the new pope.

“A lot of controversial issues will probably be brought up again like abortion and stem cell research with the next pope, no matter who he is,” Newman Community Steering Committee Co-President Sasha Bilow said. “Pope John Paul II was known to be inspired by the youth and to inspire them, so I do hope that the next pope is receptive to the youth.”

The community sees the event as a new beginning and the hope for a better future.

“Death is a sad phenomenon, but my faith tells me that there is great hope in death too,” Cool said.

Overall, many are optimistic about the future and excited to see what the is on the next pope’s agenda.

“I hope that the next pope can continue and better the good work of John Paul II,” Bilow said.

Krishnan can be reached at skrishnan@campustimes.org.



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