No matter the issue around the world, it seems the one leader all look to for a solution is Pope John Paul II. Many don't want to hear it, but realize the clout and respect he holds as the most influential and trusted man on the face of the earth. This has been evident in his dealings with the various world agencies on population control, the media, and most recently on women's health where this past Friday he addressed the question of reproductive health which abortionists hold up as the standard to legitimize the rationale for abortion. The Holy Father stressed the importance of the woman's physiological, spiritual, and biological makeup which includes "not only the prevention of diseases and respect for her procreative powers, but also a need to understand the female psychological and spiritual needs." The pontiff asserted that the term "reproductive health" should never ever be used to justify an "offense against the dignity of women or the life of the unborn child." The theme of ecumenism seemingly begins and ends with Rome where almost all Christian faiths have sprouted from. In an effort to reunite them eventually and to bring harmony among God's children, the Holy Father has launched a crusade for ecumenism as we document also today in NEWS & VIEWS.
But possibly his greatest triumph this year has to be the announcement yesterday that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan had come to an amiable settlement with Saddam Hussein to possibly prevent an American attack on Iraq. Though the media will credit Annan, others and, of course the Clinton administration will take credit as well, the real power and influence in Annan's peace talks were, once again, the Pope. Last week we announced on these pages that the Vatican diplomats had been working overtime in delivering a personal message from Pope John Paul II asking the UN leader to visit Baghdad to help negotiate a peaceful solution. Ordinarily the Vatican does not make such diplomatic efforts public, but it's on record they did and let's see the media play that one down. We believe without the strong urging of the Vatican the temporary peace agreement could not have been reached. Had Hussein thought Annan's offer came from the United States he would have rejected arrogance with arrogance, but because he, like every other head of state in the world has total respect for this humble, but confident Polish pontiff, Saddam was more willing to listen to reason. That's the kind of clout and leadership John Paul II carries. He is the "man of the twentieth century," a special saint God has given us in these turbulent times for our Church and all mankind, a God-given "unifier of hearts" in a heartless world. Oh, satan, will be furious at this latest news of averting war, and will do all in his power to foil the Holy Father's blueprint for peace. We are still in the period of the "false peace" the Blessed Mother has warned so often about. But in this world of hawks, one dove stands out. When the Pope speaks the world listens and the UN Secretary General went into action only after the Vatican proposal. John Paul II is a man of great spirituality, great compassion, great insight, great wisdom, great character, and has a greater understanding of nations, their people, cultures, faiths, economics, and politics than anyone else alive today; many times showing a greater handle on the situations than the particular nation's own leader. (The United States comes to mind in this respect!) Put those all together and there is even more reason for hope. For John Paul II is truly the reason...and reason is the reason today everyone is breathing a little easier for because the Pope spoke, the world and Saddam have listened!