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Catholics React to Pope’s Death

He’s the only Pope that young Catholics have known, and students at Paul VI High School in Fairfax expressed mixed feelings about John Paul II’s death. “I thought it was extremely sad that he died because he was such a powerful figure,” said Ashley Bunce, 18 of Centreville, “but I know he’s going to Heaven.”

“YOU JUST look at him and you see a light in him,” said Megan Bunce, 18 of Centreville.

Ashley Bunce and her classmates looked up to the Pope for a variety of reasons. “I think the most beautiful thing he did was when he forgave the man who shot him,” she said.

“I think it's cool how political figures would go to him for advice,” said Megan Bunce, noting that even leaders who were not Catholic respected the man. “They respected him for being a peacemaker,” said Brad McNiff, 18 of Fairfax Station.

They also noted the consistency of his message, how he was always pro-life, opposing abortion and the death penalty, both. “He was a great role model for everyone,” said Sean Madelmayer, 16 of Clifton.

Ashley Bunce said that she would sometimes find herself thinking about the Pope’ stance on certain issues when making decisions of her own. “What does the Pope feel about this,” she said.

The students also spoke highly of his many international trips, which allowed him to bring his religion to so many people. “He wasn’t afraid to spread the faith,” Megan Bunce said.

The students did not have a guess at who the next pope might be, but they did not think it would be an American. From a political point of view, Sean noted it might not be appropriate. Many foreign countries, he said, are wary of our global dominance in many fields, and it might not be the right time for an American to be the head of the Catholic Church, as well.

The students did think that if it were an American, he would have an additional responsibility to bring more Americans into the faith.

“I think that they’ll choose the best candidate,” Ashley Bunce said.