inessential by Brent Simmons


I’m not Catholic, and I disagreed with many of the Pope’s pronouncements—but for all he did to free Poland and Eastern Europe from communism, I thank him with all my heart.

The end of communism in Europe is still the central historical event of my lifetime, and it’s the thing that reminds me that people can be both good and courageous. Not just popes—dock workers too. Everybody. Even, from time to time, leaders of countries.

If, some day, historians call him Pope John Paul the Great, I’ll be fine with that.

I remember when this Pope was elected, and I remember when his predecessor was elected. For those of you too young to remember, consider this a head’s-up—the process and ritual here is fascinating, worth paying attention to, whether you’re Catholic or not. It’s history. (And, with luck, it’s history we won’t see again for many decades.)