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J-P II seeking to reconcile the world’s Creeds,

Makes apologies for the Church’s historic errors

Against Traditional Religions of Africa and Americas,

Against Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islamism




The Man Called John Paul II

By Rose Ure Mezu, Ph.D.


Formerly called Carol Wotjyla

Now called John Paul II, he follows

The Footsteps of the Crucified Master.


Formerly straight, strong and devout

He now is humped-up, frail yet holy.

Two or so decades ago, athletic and strong,

He would slide down ski slopes who now

Hunched, slides down the steps of Calvary.


Christ-like, he carries the burden of the Ages,

The sins of ages yet to come, suffering for all

Frail of body; but when you look into the face

The Spark from Heaven ignites the fire of a

Spirituality beyond words personalized in him.

And the spirit shines through, steady as a rock                            

As did ordain the Master to Petrus, the Rock.


He is our modern Percival of the Holy Grail.

He is a much-traveled knight on the Holy Trail

Who now has earned the title of Father to all:

Nna, Papa, Pere, Pope: in every tongue still holy,

Still Peter’s visible successor come close to all,

Still the link between Divinity and humanity.


J-P II has been to all corners of our Globe,

Sustaining the temper of St. Peter’s Chair,

Carrying Christ’s Basilica into native shrines,

At each stop, humbly stooping to kiss the soil,

This good earth from which we all are formed,

The earth, hallowed by the Hand that it did form.


Our Papa seeks to bridge the religious divide,

To make all and sundry sects truly one in God

And live in eternity in The One, the Mighty One,

All who profess worship to the One Creator:

Chukwu, Olonnwu, Brahman, Yaweh, God, Allah -

By whatever name still One, Holy, Indivisible.


J-P II seeking to reconcile the world’s Creeds,

Makes apologies for the Church’s historic errors

Against Traditional Religions of Africa and Americas,

Against Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islamism --

All whose rites of worship were violated by missionaries

Showing “contempt for cultures and religious traditions,”

Demonizing cultural artifacts which they carted away to

Revive and prosper their ageing museums of the West,

Inspiring Picasso’s paintings and New Age art theories,

From the Noble Savage to Cubism to Surrealism, et al.

He embodies, conveys and dramatizes Christ’s love:

“For the repentance of your people, Lord,” he prays,

“who humbly confess their sins, grant them  mercy!”


Thus he leaves behind a legacy of Justice & Unity

As he seeks to reconcile all sects, granting that

We stem from the One Stock, the One Holy Root,

Setting aside color and creed, tongue and culture,

To right grave wrongs of the Christian Church,

To right the ills of two millennia of Strife and

Blood and Intolerance and Persecution which


Christian zealots, trusting in their prideful power

In centuries past heaped on God’s “little ones” by

Failing to recognize and embrace the Christ in

The Dusky Hungry, the Copper-colored Thirsty,

The Yellow Natives incapable of self-defense -

An unchristian Arrogance that in Christ was but Love.


John Paul’s mea culpa also soothes hearts bruised

In ages when the Church in ignorance disproved

Galileo cum Copernicus’ New World of Science

Which J-P now supports with social Encyclicals:

Remembering the cruel burnings of Inquisition,

Europe’s crusaders who martyred presumed infidels,

The inhumanity of that 1st sale, sanctioned by a Pope,

Of Africans whose sweat & blood prospered the West

As Christ’s suffering and blood redeemed the World.


The thought flashes that J-P II making his pilgrimages,

In actuality is readying the account to the Mighty One

As he prepares the indestructible Church of the Christ

By trying to weld into God’s family all world faiths

From different climes, tongues, creeds and hymns.


For courage, John Paul II is the anointed rock of Christ

For compassionate love, he is the visible mercy of Christ

For chastity / sanctity, he is the mirrored purity of Christ


In this truly post-human and amoral Cyber age

He refuses to compromise with all concupiscence.

Strong on moral values, he says “Non!” to Abortion,

Says “Oui!” to the sanctity of God-ordained Families,

To traditional Marriage and to unshakeable Faith.


He condemns the moral failings and other lusts of

Weak, tempted priests and other religious whose

Hypocrisy / suicides provide ammunition to news media

And other agents of the Anti-Christ seeking to undermine

Christ’s own Church which had withstood two millennia

Of internal corruption because founded on defensible truths.


In the squabble over morality, Christ’s life is the sole mirror

Of eternal ideals / verities, not a priest’s nor even a pope’s life.

Yet, John Paul II, straight or stooped, upholds Christ’s banner.


And I can say I met the living saint called John Paul II,

Of whom future age will surely call “The Great J-P II”

Four times, I  remember, our paths did cross:


First as envoy to the Imo State Government

In ‘82 at Enugu, the Eastern Igbo Capital of Nigeria

I saw John Paul II alight, stoop and kiss the Igbo soil

I too in holy obeisance, courtesied and kissed his ring

He looked ever so frail, this friend to the world’s youth,

Survivor of a recent near-fatal attack,

To us in Nigeria was his first outing,

After the shooting by Mehmet Ali Ajah.


And then again in ‘93 we encountered ourselves

As stretching his hand, he gave to Rose & Sebastian -

Our names entwined - his Paternal blessings,

Printed in immortal words of Jubilee grace,

Presented through the loving Bishop Ezeonyia of Aba,-

This re-sanctification of our 1968 union.

The blessed presentation through the Bishop symbolizes

Gracious Triune Majesty’s Presence at our Jubilee,

Providence’s Visit to Mount Carmel Church Altar

In Emekuku as our ‘93 Jubilee vows renewed 

That hallowed sixth day of the ninth month of ‘68.


And yet again in Baltimore, our paths in 1995

Re-crossed  when chosen as Africa’s delegate

I with others thronged Baltimore’s Oriole Stadium

J-P’s holy presence covered Mary’s land like a mantle.

The blessed hush, the smiling sun, the gentle breeze dripped

Celestial unction on nations assembled: A Foretaste of Heaven!


Then on July 25, 2002 came the reply –

John Paul II having Read this poem, gave his Apostolic blessings

Confirming the Savior’s gift of Peace and Joy.


Then on his trip in the Jubilee Year 2000 to Christ’s

Own locus natalis, this man of prayers wears an aura

Of readying for the final call, having put in order his house,

The Church of Christ, thus leaving a Papacy of Peace and

Healing, Love and Reconciliation - blessings to one and all.


And thus when the hour comes to answer that final call,

The man called John Paul II will leave behind a strong

Church, cleansed, reconciled, healed and respected

To face the challenges of an irreverent, amoral Age

With mores ever so strange, prospects ever so chilling!


An so, set to transit into Eternity, aged, beloved, respected,

Man of prayer, Christ’s envoy, careworn yet hard at work,

He incarnates the transcendental mystery of humans as

Pope, poet, linguist, philosopher, mystic & hardy witness to

Hope, for he is Providence’s Man of Destiny

Who always lives in the future; who now

Sets all a-wondering, “what manner of man will take up

The Shepherd’s staff  after The Man Called John Paul II - Saint!” 

                                                               March 20, 2000; May 20, 2002

Dr. Rose Ure Mezu was born in Nigeria and studied in Port-Harcourt, (Nigeria), Abidjan, (Côte d’Ivoire ), Buffalo (New York) and Paris (France) where she graduated with a Diplôme d’Études  from the Sorbonne. She obtained a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1993, specializing in Francophone and Anglo-phone Feminist Literature. She had been a Commissioner of Social Welfare in Imo State, Nigeria, and is currently an Associate Professor of English, Women Studies and Comparative Literature at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.  She is also the founder and Co-ordinator of WADS: Black Creativity & the State of the Race, which organizes international and interdisciplinary conferences on Africa and the Diaspora.

*   *   *   *   *

Blessed Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian: Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II), born Karol Józef Wojtyła (Polish: [ˈkarɔl ˈjuzɛf vɔjˈtɨwa]; 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at 84 years and 319 days of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted 26 years and  168 days; only Pope Pius IX (1846–1878) who served 31 years, has reigned longer. Pope John Paul II is the only Slavic or Polish pope to date and was the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI (1522–1523).

John Paul II has been acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. It is widely held that he was instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. Conversely, he denounced the excesses of capitalism. John Paul II is widely said to have significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. Though criticised by progressives for upholding the Church's teachings against artificial contraception and the ordination of women, he was also criticised by traditionalists for his support of the Church's Second Vatican Council and its reform of the Liturgy as well as his ecumenical efforts.

He was one of the most-travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. He spoke Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Croatian, and Latin as well as his native Polish. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonised 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was beatified on 1 May 2011.Wikipedia

posted 5 April 2005

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