AWhen John Paul II died in April 2005 at the biblical age of almost 85, the world seemed to stand still for a moment. There was hardly a country to which the Pope, who was born in Poland in 1920, had not paid his respects during his almost 27-year pontificate, hardly a head of state or government who had not sought the closeness of the man in whom many of the conscience of the world saw, there was hardly a religious leader who could resist the invitation to pray together for peace. So it wasn’t just Pope Francis who canonized the man who had survived and fought the totalitarianism of the 20th century. Already from the crowd of millions of Christians from all over the world who filled the streets of Rome after the end of the pope’s public infirmity, the cry “Santo subito” rang out.
This weekend, however, the streets of Rome remained silent as news broke of the death of the man elected to succeed John Paul II in 2005. On the last day of 2022, even churches around the world were not filled with prayers united in mourning for a great man in history. And the funeral on Thursday will have a much more modest character than that of its predecessor.