|It's hard to choose just a few photos.|
NB. If you want an article that includes some of the reasons folks don't think he should be fully canonized, here's a link. It is not a Christopher Hitchens screed like the one on Mother Teresa, but it is at least that "on the other hand" kind of journalism.
|He was really photogenic and charismatic|
II. At the maturity of the Cold War (a more delicate time than some folks want to remember), he took it to the Communists, under whom he lived and worked in Poland, and then took it to the capitalists, whose excesses of wealth he deplored. Yeah, you could talk about the artwork in the Vatican while people are hungry, and you could talk about his travel budget (129 countries in 102 foreign trips), but then you'd have to get into revenue streams, the tourism effect versus short-term gains from auctions, etc. Not worth the trouble to analyze when we're evaluating his legacy. The point is that he lived a personally abstemious life (albeit in a palace, although said palace is a revenue engine that runs a surplus for the organization). That abstemious life gave him the spiritual footing to tell the Reds where they were wrong and to tell the West where it was wrong.
|With Mother Teresa to make him look tall|
III. He took a bullet in the gut from a Turkish neo-fascist named Mehmet Ali Agca, who may or may not have been working with the Bulgarian Communist government. He lost nearly three-quarters of his blood, but regained consciousness long enough to ask that his Brown Scapular (a symbol of filial devotion to the BVM) during his operation. After recovering, he publicly exonerated the Bulgarians and Soviets (contrary to evidence provided by the Italian government) and eventually visited Mehmet Ali Agca in prison to reassure him of personal pardon. Of the meeting, the Pope said, "What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.″
The Pope was also targeted during a visit to the Philippines. Al Qaeda operatives were going to get him with a suicide bomb, but a chemical fire alerted police to the location so they got gaffled early.
V. There's more to say, of course, but this is running long so I will close with a quote from the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, who worked with the Holy Father for seven years. "I was able to see him with people. I was able to see him at prayer and worship. I was able to see him with the poor. I was able to watch him in his travels," Dolan says. "And I knew there was something mystical, there was something transcendent, there was something unique."