Rooney: God's Emissary On Earth

<B>Andy Rooney</B> Looks Back At The Life Of Pope John Paul II

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.
The desire most people have to believe in God wants some physical presence to worship and, for Catholics, the pope is that presence. He is God's emissary on earth. He provides Catholics with a comfortable feeling about his existence.

I think there's more good will among religions here in America than there used to be. Not a lot of friction. Most Christians who are not Catholic are joining devout Catholics in sorrow and with genuine respect for Pope John Paul II. He was a good pope -- maybe one of the very best.

For most devoutly religious Americans -- Catholics, Protestants, Jews, even Muslims -- the church doesn't dominate their lives the way it used to, and considering how highly everyone thought of Pope John Paul, it's interesting that more Catholics than ever ignore their church's admonition about things like birth control. And, they don't pay much attention to the church's edict about divorce, either.

American Catholics work, play and have a family life now pretty much independent of religion. This attitude is allowing religions to exist together more amicably than they once did. Catholic men marry Presbyterian women. Methodist women marry Catholic men. Catholics and Protestants both marry Jews. It's no longer a big deal.

There's a Catholic church on the corner near where I live that Jews use as a synagogue on Saturdays. Or I don't know. I've never been in it. Maybe it's a synagogue that Catholics use on Sunday as a church.

Popes get to pick their own names. Over the years, 23 of them picked John, 16 called themselves Gregory, and 15 Benedict. I can't help noticing there has never been a Pope Andrew.

Catholics everywhere loved Pope John Paul, even though he was a lot stricter about things than most of them were. Many of them didn't go along with his attitude toward homosexuality, or what they felt was his unenlightened attitude toward women.

One thing is clear. All Catholics and a majority of Christians who are not Catholic -- even millions of Americans who are something else or nothing at all -- are respectfully sad that Pope John Paul II is gone.

Written By Andy Rooney