No matter who is pope I WILL keep on keeping on

by Don Rampolla

No matter who is pope there is a lot of work for me to do in this world. I have a wife to love, children and grandchildren to love, 6 billion other people to love. There are wars to be stopped, peace to be made, social and economic justice to be achieved. And I have the daily tasks of living --- my share of housekeeping, shopping and income earning.

Who is pope may make a difference in the effectiveness of my efforts, for example in working for a living and in working for peace and social justice. And certainly I will have feelings about the effectiveness of my work --- seeing a large effect is certainly more satisfying than seeing a small effect or none. But whether my efforts are rendered more or less effective by the top hierarchical leadership of the Catholic Church need not be an influence on my decision to make an effort, and the enthusiasm I put into that effort. If I’m doing what I’m doing out of love for God and people then as has been said (by Mother Teresa?) faithfulness is more important than effectiveness.

You might ask how could the pope make a difference in the effectiveness of my efforts. I’ll give just two examples.

The first example involves the political and economic situation in this country which certainly impacts efforts to end the war in Iraq and to alleviate poverty here and abroad, as well as my own efforts to make a living. Prior to the last election there were pronouncements from the Vatican concerning the position of Catholic and other politicians on the abortion issue in this country. I don’t know how much these pronouncements contributed to the election of George Bush. But it’s possible that absent these pronouncements John Kerry would have been elected. In my opinion the efforts of thousands of people who are working to end the war and to alleviate poverty would have been more effective with Kerry as president than with Bush as president. Also, I’m in a situation like a lot of other retirees --- if the economy deteriorates as a result of Bush supported tax cuts and my retirement income is reduced then I will have to work harder to make ends meet.

The second example is the human suffering caused by repressive governments in Latin America. 20 years ago Catholic liberation theologians in that part of the world were moving people in the direction of unseating these governments. The theologians were muzzled by the Vatican (with Ratzinger leading the charge), and bishops were appointed who generally tended to support or tolerate the repressive regimes --- presumably because these regimes did not interfere with “the work of the church” so long as “the work of the church” didn’t include trying to change social structures so as to improve the conditions of poor people. The effectiveness of missionaries to Latin America and of people in the US who were working to improve the conditions of these poor people (say by influencing policies of the U.S. government) was certainly diminished by the work of the Vatican. (And in Latin America how many thousands of people died, were jailed or tortured, and how many millions were further impoverished as a result of Vatican policies?)

Regarding faithfulness rather than effectiveness, I note that whatever course of action I choose to take it is certainly important to try to make my efforts effective. But no matter how carefully crafted my plan there’s always the possibility that little will be accomplished. However past failure and the possibility of future failure need not paralyze or hobble me if I recognize that the trying itself is a loving response to God’s love.

You, dear reader, will have your own examples of how the actions of the pope may impact your life. But no matter what the examples the point remains that the work you and I have to do is still there. No matter what is going on with the rest of the world it’s important that you and I continue our efforts to be the Dawnkeepers described in the accompanying story.

With love, Don Rampolla May 2005


In the very beginning Creator of All made all that is created. All of creation pulsed and throbbed in a great harmony of love. Each day the majestic sun rose at dawn from the mists of the East, and in orderly procession ascended to the zenith of the heavens, then descended, and set in fiery splendor beyond the horizon of the West. The children of earth lived in peace with awe and gratitude and love for all that is.

But in time, the children of earth began to complain and fight and to despoil the earth. They complained of the sun that at times it was too bright and hot, and at other times gave too little light and heat. They fought about who should have the greater share of the good things of creation. They polluted the water and denuded the land. As time passed the fighting and complaining and despoiling increased in violence.

One day there was no dawn, and the majestic sun did not rise at the appointed time. After the length of time of a day the sun did not appear, nor did it appear after the length of time of several days. The children of earth now became fearful, for the earth was becoming cold and the plants were beginning to die.

The children of earth came to Creator of All to complain. “My most precious children”, said Creator of All, “the majestic sun no longer rises because of the discord of your complaining and fighting and despoiling. You must understand that all that is created can work together only in the harmony of love. I have given you the power to support the harmony through your love, or to destroy the harmony. Your discord has destroyed the harmony of my entire creation. The sun cannot rise until you restore the harmony”.

Many children of earth were angry at Creator of All for suggesting that the failure of the sun to rise was due to their complaining and fighting and despoiling, and so they complained and fought and despoiled even more violently. But a few children of earth determined to restore the harmony. So some of these children gathered together in love to make peace, and to care for the weak and the victims of war and greed. Other children gathered together in love to express gratitude and thanks for all that is. And still other children gathered together in love to restore the water and the land.

Through the love of these children the harmony of the universe was restored, for although these children were few in number the power of their combined love was great. Then a new dawn came, and the majestic sun rose once again from the mists of the East, and in orderly procession ascended to the zenith of the heavens, then descended, and set in fiery splendor beyond the horizon of the West. Each day these children continued their work of love, and each day there was a new dawn. These children came to be called “dawnkeepers”.

In every age since, there have been a small number of children who act as dawnkeepers. It is through the combined power of their love that the harmony of the universe is maintained against the discord of complaining and fighting and despoiling. It is through the combined power of their love that there is a new dawn each day, and the majestic sun is empowered to rise and give life to the earth.