It is said that death waits for no one and makes no appointments. That was the case for the 1,000 people killed by Hurricane Katrina, the 70,000 dead in the Pakistan earthquake, and the 181,000 lives claimed by the Asian tsunami that hit in late 2004, overshadowing the dawn of 2005.
For the year’s biggest religion newsmaker, Pope John Paul II, death seemed to hover at a distance. It was almost a final touch of grace, allowing the charismatic former playwright one final moment of drama before he slipped away on April 2 at age 84.
As the frail and failing pontiff struggled with a host of ailments and hospital visits, the world was moved by John Paul’s personal suffering during Holy Week and the frustrated, voiceless final blessing from the window on Easter Sunday. People strained to hear the final “amen” on his lips as he died.