Of course, I’m chiefly concerned about the death of John Paul II because I’m selfish. And it occurs to me that I won’t see an endless string of popes during my lifetime. It’s a lot like the thought that there is a finite number of super bowls or presidents or class reunions that it’s allotted for me to be coincident with, only this papal wave is much longer. It’s also not nearly as metronomic as I like my clocks of doom. Portents and harbingers of my inevitable decay should be more dependable.
When I was 15, popes were dropping like flies; we went from Paul VI to JP I to JP II in, what, two months? But then the new guy turned out to be a fighter and lasted for a quarter century. That’s a long wavelength. I don’t have too many more of those left in me. The only longer wavelength for such things is the one sitting on the British throne, and I’m getting less confident that I can outlast her with every passing year.
I certainly don’t wish harm for the Pope or the Queen or the New England Patriots. I approach this from a purely historical perspective, with the prayerful wish that I get to see as much more history as I can stomach.
So I’ve got four popes under my belt (I checked; John XXIII lasted just long enough). My question is “How many more popes do I get?” Oh, God, how many more?