It's a good thing I don't believe in hell

because if there were such a place, I'd probably be headed there.

I was raised in a very Catholic family. I have three aunts who are nuns and an uncle who is a priest. My parents forced me dress up and go to Mass every Sunday morning from the day of my birth until the day I moved out of the house. I am a Catholic School survivor.

But I find I can't mourn the death of a man who spent more time fretting over gay people than he did over the widespread sexual abuse of children at the hands of his regional representatives. I don't feel sad about the death of a man who spread lies about the effectiveness of condoms at protecting oneself from HIV, when talking to a continent that is devastated by AIDS.

I'm not saying he was all bad. He was flawed like the rest of us, but I don't believe he was evil. I'm sure he was well intentioned. I believe that he sincerely wished for peace for this world.

Pope John Paul II had a good run on this earth. He survived WWII and getting shot, and I remember how moved I felt when he forgave the man who shot him. I was pleased that he spoke out against the Iraq invasion. But he also used his power to hurt some of the least of us, even if he didn't mean to.

A lot of people believe that JP is now in heaven with God, and that's fine. I suppose there are people who believe he's in hell, too (Bob Jones University comes to mind). But as a non-believer, I think he's just gone, and that's that. I feel sympathy for the people who feel they've lost their spiritual leader (people like my mother and sister and aunts and uncles). I hope the Catholic church can find a leader who will focus on the evil within as well as the evil without.

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