Pope John Paul II (washingtonpost.com)
"The pope is a thoroughly modern man who nevertheless challenged a lot of the conventional wisdom of self-consciously modern people," his biographer George Weigel said in a magazine interview some years ago. "In a world dominated by the pleasure principle and by personal willfulness, he insists that suffering can be redemptive and that self-giving is far more important to human fulfillment than self-assertion. In an intellectual climate where the human capacity to know anything with certainty is under attack, he has taught that there are universal moral truths . . . and that, in knowing them, we encounter real obligations. To a world that often measures human beings by their utility, he has insisted that every human being has an inviolable dignity and worth."
"One who exercises as much power as the pope will never be free of controversy, no matter how exemplary his life; the secular world is not in the habit of conferring sainthood on people. But John Paul II, after his death yesterday at 84, will be seen by most, we think, as a remarkable witness, to use a favorite term of his -- witness to a vision characterized by humaneness, honesty and integrity throughout his reign and his life. "