Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy


Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

April 11, 2005

Personal Musings Upon A Pope’s Passing

The Pope is dead.

The last time I heard those words it was late summer 1978, and I was, briefly, living in a small apartment in the 16th in Paris. I felt terribly old but was, in reality, very young, both in years and in spirit – though I don’t know that I discovered that until later.

John Paul I had become Pope and then, suddenly, passed away from the scene.

As is customary in papal passings, there were dark conspiracy rumors that included poisoning or a pillow pressed against his face by curia bureaucrats who had discovered they’d made a mistake in letting this particular man ascend to the throne of St. Peter.

Then, again, he might have just had had a heart attack. I don’t recall the medical reason supplied for his death. His reign was notable only for its brevity and that he was succeeded by the Cardinal from Poland who became John Paul II, in a deferential nod to the man who had preceded him.

John Paul II. He was a conundrum of a Pope.

I absolutely thought highly of the man on a personal, individual level. He will, undoubtedly, be a Saint one day and probably in relatively short order. He certainly acted saintly when, after months of painful recuperation, he traveled to the jail holding the man who had attempted to kill him and forgave him.

He had huge integrity, strong beliefs, acting with the absolute faith of his convictions. [A bit like our current President.] He was often, almost always, in fact, charming. He traveled widely and seemed to have great fun being Pope, at least until the last few years when Parkinson’s slowed him down considerably and made his official duties a strain.

For all those things, I must say, I admired him. But I did not like him. The absolutes of his beliefs dictated that I could have no place in the church into which I was born. By very virtue of my being, I must live in perpetual exile from the faith I once deeply loved.

For the likes of me there could be no place in the Catholic Communion. Knowing that, I long ago separated myself from the Holy Roman Church while not divorcing myself from personal spirituality. In fact, in the desert to which I have felt condemned, I have found a peaceful oasis, at last, of spiritual moistness which nourishes me.

Tripp points out to me and all others who were raised Catholics but who have since parted ways with our Holy Mother Church, that: once a Catholic, always a Catholic.

I suppose it is true. We are deeply affected, if not infected, by the discipline of Catholicism in the 20th Century, particularly if we are products of its educational system. [I am.]

Now that my place in that particular communion is denied me; I am Adam exiled from the Garden, a sinner by nature and deed, condemned to forever look back toward Eden, mourning its loss to me.

Unfortunately, I only wished it had been Eden like. I love the principles of Christ; I simply wished those who ran the Roman Church adhered to them a bit more closely. [Ah, if I sound a tad bitter, I am.]

It is a perverse reality of most lapsed Catholics of a certain age; we yearn to return to that which we have rejected, even while knowing that we were correct in our rejection. It is not the actual we are missing but the ideal we glimpsed in our first youth, when we could see the true glimmerings of Christ through the trappings of Holy Mother Church, when the Sermon on the Mount seemed at the center rather than at the fringes.

I admired John Paul II for his sense of social justice and adherence to the Sermon on the Mount while at the same time I was appalled by his failure to actualize the lesson to be learned by the Christ’s treatment of Mary Magdalene.