I read the phrase again somewhere, for the first time in a several weeks.
The more I read about St. Leo the Great, who, as a temporal ruler turned back Attila the Hun and as the visible head of the Church put down Monophysites and Manicheans that would have destroyed her, and St. Gregory the Great, who as a temporal ruler pulled Rome out of the Dark Ages and as visible head of the Church furthered the Roman rite of Mass and codified the music that would sustain her for more than a millenium, the more I wonder about those who talk about John Paul the Great. I hear the appellation less and less, but I do occasionally hear it. To love and respect JP2 is admirable--he was, after all, the Vicar of Christ. But c'mon, he's not in the same class as Leo or Gregory, is he? I've always heard that a cleric must teach, sanctify and govern. I think more and more people are sobering up and coming to the realization that (although they may believe he did two-thirds of his job very well--which even some will credibly argue otherwise), he wasn't much of a governor. He didn't show much firmness in leading the Church, and in the area that most mattered--the appointment and "promotion" of bishops--his record is frankly rather poor. For every great bishop he gave us, we can name one or more that has done great harm to the Church.
JP2 was a holy man, but one with a mixed record. Let's pray for him and petition him to pray for us, but let's give up on the "Great" appellation, shall we?