Four to five million people spent hours in line to file past his body and pay their last respects, and 1.1 billion people claimed him as their spiritual father. Catholic and non-Catholic, Christian and non-Christian alike sang his praises. Even English Prince Charles’s wedding was postponed one day for his funeral. Only a few detractors were to be found. The world had lost a truly great man.
I’m speaking of Pope John Paul II and the days following his death. Some clearly have overdone their adoration for him. A Mexican immigrant, after he had seen John Paul in person on one of the pope’s 104 trips abroad, said, “Holy God came to us today.” Similarly, a 44-year-old Ohio woman opined, “I don’t know if you’re going to get any closer to God on earth.” And one archbishop now has prayed, “From heaven may he look over us always and help us to cross the threshold of hope.”
That kind of awe begs questioning. However, much of the hundreds of tributes paid by religious and political dignitaries around the world were right on. This pope was a man of “transparent integrity,” “unselfish compassion,” “love and courage,” “friendship and understanding.” He was a champion of world peace, human freedom, morality, justice, and life. He loved the youth, the poor, the suffering. He is credited with helping cause the fall of communism, defending human rights, opposing anti-Semitism, serving the cause of Christian unity. He has been called “The Gladiator” and “The Great.”
All of this and more John Paul was and did.
This teaching that the Papacy is the Antichrist is not a fundamental article of faith. . . . It is not an article on which saving faith rests, with which Christianity stands or falls. We cannot and do not deny the Christianity of a person who cannot see the truth that the Pope is the Antichrist.
Yet it is an important article and should not be side-stepped or slighted. It is clearly revealed in the divine word, and there is nothing needless and useless in the Bible; God wants us to know about the Antichrist. . . . This article is clearly expressed in the Lutheran Confessions; whoever denies it does not stand in one faith with his fathers; he is not a confessional Lutheran.Now, was Bachmann aware of this teaching? WELS spokesman Joel Hochmuth
said in an interview the anti-papal doctrine is “not one of our driving views, and certainly not something that we preach from the pulpit.’"