New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II 1920-2005

Rest in peace, Pope John Paul II, who died today in the Vatican at 84. He was a good pope, conservative and sometimes polarizing but overall a force for peace and love in the world.

Even if you don't agree with some of his more conservative positions, it's hard to dispute the positive and calming affect he had on such huge numbers of people.

I saw the pope several times in my life, although I never met him personally. As a newspaper reporter living in Riga, Latvia in 1993 I followed him through three countries: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, writing dispatches about what it was like to be in the crowd of a huge outdoor mass, or to see his motorcade and popemobile go by.

I was moved by the way people reacted to seeing him. They were so touched to receive his blessing.

I have been blessed by Pope John Paul II a number of times, albeit as one person in a big crowd getting the group blessing. But it counts.

I also went to see him in New York when I first moved here. It was 1995, and if I remember correctly I couldn't get a ticket to actually see him but I stood outside the fences and listened to him talk.

The crowd would chant "John Paul II, we love you!" and the pope would respond "John Paul II loves you."

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