When every media outlet, even MTV reports about ones final hours there can hardly be any dispute that one has had a lasting influence in this world.
Pope John Paul II is such a man. The media coverage of his final days has been amazing. If one ascribes to the notion that no press is bad press then even the jokes about him on the Daily Show are good in some way.
I know for me, and a million other Catholics of my generation this man is the voice of reason in a crazy world. When everything we believed in was being ripped apart by the secular humanists, the Holy Father was standing up for our right to believe and be faithful to what we held to be true.
My mother was one of the Holy Father's biggest cheerleaders from early in his pontificate. I remember a conversation we had back when I was in college. The Pope had made his first purposeful trip to foreign soil and my mother said, "You watch, nothing will stop this man from speaking the truth throughout the world." Her words have been seen to be true. He spoke out for dignity of the human person, for respect for life in a culture of death, and he gave a voice to the voiceless, whether they were migrant workers or unborn children in the womb, or criminals on death row.
I think history will look well on this philosopher pope. John Paul the Great we will some day come to call him. And eventually we will even add Saint to that title.