.- The Lutheran religion editor of United Press International claims that John Paul II, who shared his faith and values around the world, is also "his" pope.
In his commentary "Everybody's pope", this great admirer of the 83-year-old pontiff says he doesn't have to be Roman Catholic to claim John Paul II as "his" pope. Uwe Siemen-Netto's commentary was published october 15, on the eve of Pope John Paul's silver jubilee celebrations.
"For the last quarter of a century, this non-Catholic has had a pope," writes the religion editor of the international news agency.
"Who else but John Paul II gave voice to my faith and my values in 117 countries? Who else posited personal holiness and theological clarity against post-modern self-deception and egotism? Who else preached the Gospel as tirelessly as this man?"
The pope, who he describes as the "only one true catholic (meaning universal) voice of discipleship", speaks for all Christian believers, he says.
In his commentary, Siemen-Netto is confident that he is reflecting the views of many fellow Protestants.
He admires the pope for his role in bringing down communism, for being a "powerful defender of the sanctity of life," for his criticism of capitalism and for his capacity for forgiveness, which he demonstrated by forgiving Ali Agca, who shot him in an assassination attempt in 1981.
Siemen-Netto says that he has often found himself defending the pope to Catholics or other Protestants, who accuse him of being stubborn on several issues, namely priestly celibacy and ecumenism.
But Siemen-Netto appreciates the pope's uncompromising position on these issues, his refusal to sway from the Gospel and Church teachings and his courage to pronounce the truth. "This is not a cuddly pope," he writes.
The UPI editor also admires the pontiff's courage to continue as the leader of the Church despite his physical ailments and to pursue his discipleship "to the bitter end."
"He bears his cross, for all to see, especially the young who come to surround this severely handicapped old man by the hundreds of thousands wherever they can," he writes. "For he represents to them the opposite of the wishy-washy aberrations of postmodernity with its ever-shifting 'truth' claims."
For Siemen-Netto's full commentary, go to