Eternal Memory

7 April 2005

Dear In Communion reader,

As this issue was being edited, Pope John Paul was dying, and then came the news that his life in this world had ended. Death has a way of making us pay more attention to those we are suddenly without. A dead pope’s life suddenly became the world’s main event, the occasion for a massive spontaneous response such as I cannot recall for anyone else in my lifetime. Millions of people, many of them teenagers and young adults, have spent long hours in river-like lines singing and praying their way toward a final glimpse of John Paul’s body. It has been an astonishing witness. Probably many in those lines haven’t lately attended a church service. Perhaps they will come away from John Paul’s funeral with a different idea not only about what to do on Sunday mornings but with a deeper faith.

While it’s mainly ordinary people in these seemingly endless lines, also on their way to the funeral are many Orthodox bishops. John Paul’s life has mattered not only to members of the Catholic Church but to Christianity as a whole, not least the Orthodox Church. While he did not live to see the healing of the millennium-old East-West schism, it was a matter always high on John Paul’s agenda. May we be among those helping to carry that great work forward. John Paul also gave witness to Christ’s words, “I have come to give life and give it more abundantly.” I cannot think of any religious leader in my lifetime who did so much to defend human life – opposing war, abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. May his memory be eternal.

This issue of In Communion comes to you in mid-Lent. In various ways each article in the spring issue has to do with our journey toward the Resurrection, a passage occurring in a culture of alienation, division and death. May you find in this issue at least a few things that serve as bread for the journey.

This letter is one of four appeals we send out each year. As I mentioned three months ago, the bulk of our income is in US dollars while the greater part of our expenses is in euros. As you probably have heard, the past two years has seen a dramatic erosion in the value of the dollar. The euro used to be worth about 80 US cents; now it cost 50 cents more – $1.30 – to buy a euro. This shift has meant a substantial drop in OPF income, when measured in euros, and the rapid depletion of our limited reserves. We appeal with urgency to help us continue. If at all possible, send more than you have in the past. Annual subscription payments alone are not nearly enough to pay our bills, especially now that we now we have a staff person on each side of the Atlantic.

There is already a community of donors who make monthly or quarterly donations. Might you join that core group? Could you manage 10 a month? Or even 20? It would make such an enormous difference in our capacity to serve the Church. If you can manage, either by payment or pledge, the equivalent of 100 or more, you are eligible to receive a gift book.

In Christ’s peace,

Jim Forest, OPF co-secretary