CREDOS : Heroic papacy — III

George Weigel:

Bishops, he believed, were primarily evangelists and teachers, not managers. That was the way he had been the archbishop of Kraków, and that was how he thought he should be the Bishop of Rome. In doing so, John Paul II, 263rd successor to St. Peter, brought the papacy into the 21st century by retrieving the first-century model of the Office of Peter in the Church.

In the New Testament, Peter is not the chief executive officer of a small niche company, “Christianity, Inc.” Peter is a witness, an evangelist, a pastor, the centre of the Church’s unity. John Paul II revitalised that ancient concept of the Office of Peter for the third millennium, using all the instruments of the communications and transportation revolutions to bring Peter to the world. In the course of this dramatic renovation of the world’s oldest institutional office, he continued to surprise. Throughout his pontificate, he was a magnet for the world’s young people, who flocked to him by the millions. In the early years of his papacy, some of this almost certainly reflected the contemporary cult of celebrity. But that was not all it was, and his status in the 1980s as a global superstar did not explain why John Paul II continued to attract the young when he was visibly weakened by disease and age.

Why did the Pope remain a compelling figure for the young? One reason was his transparent integrity. Young people have acutely sensitive hypocrisy detectors; in John Paul II, they saw a man who believed what he said and acted out his beliefs. There was no “spin” here — only integrity all the way through, the integrity of a man who committed every facet of his life to Jesus Christ. —