Witness to Life

It’s hard to believe it has already been six years since the passing of John Paul II.

What I remember most about the day he died is the reactions from evangelicals on and around Capitol Hill to his death. He had had a tremendous effect on them. With his love, with his language. He didn’t just write it; he was, in many ways, the Gospel of Life personified.

Any forum on Catholics and civic life ought to keep Evangelium Vitae alive. Literally.

Speaking of JPII and life — his and ours: I fear many who read Witness to Hope might not have bothered with George Weigel’s new book on John Paul II, figuring they’ve pretty much heard the story already. George’s new one, The End and the Beginning, however, is something you want to pick up. (I talked with him about the book here, in case you want a taste first.) Reading his chapter on JPII’s “Last Encyclical” — the Holy Father’s embrace of the Cross at the end of his life, showing us how to die — is not bad preparation for the beatification.


Categories:Pro-Life Uncategorized

  • Laura

    Your interview with the book’s author was very interesting, thank you very much

  • Kathryn Lopez

    Weigel doesn’t need my plugs. But I appreciate your concern. It is something he gets into, as you might expect. From our discussion this fall:

    LOPEZ: A sympathetic column in the New York Times in recent months cast Benedict as the good reformer pope and John Paul as the bad pope, essentially, vis-à-vis priest scandals. Is that fair? If not, what would be a fair, honest assessment?

    WEIGEL: No, it’s not fair, and if I may say so, it’s based on ignorance of the record, at least with respect to John Paul II. John Paul II was a great reformer of the priesthood for 26 and a half years. He drew into the priesthood, by his own example, tens of thousands of young men who will never abuse their priestly vocation by abusing others. His apostolic exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, led to a significant reform of seminaries and of the way the Catholic Church trains its priests. I explore John Paul’s role in the scandals of the recent past at length in The End and the Beginning — including the issue of whether he was slow to grasp the meaning of the Long Lent of 2002, and the issue of his being misled by Father Marcial Maciel — and I invite those who want to get at the truth of all this to read those parts of the book carefully.

    • Bill

      Please watch this time line:
      November, 2004 John Paul II fetes Fr. Maciel in a grand ceremony in Rome.

      January, 2005 (two months later) Cdl Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, alerts Fr. Maciel that files charging him with abuse of priests and seminarians have been reopened

      May, 2005 Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, orders Maciel to a monastery where he dies within a few years.

      Marcial Maciel had his faculties removed in the 1950s. Why were they ever restored? Does Mr. Weigel enjoy the charism of infallibility?

  • Bill

    Thank you for your post, Ms. Lopez.I am sure Mr. Weigel appreciates the plug, now that it is the John Paul II book writing season. However, I will defer my adulation for John Paul, as I keep seeing Fr. Maciel kneeling before him in November, 2004 when John Paul feted him in Rome.I can’t imagine that this man, pious as he might have been, compares in magnitude to St. Pius X, who fought Modernism in the first decade of the 20th century, and Pius V who called and then enforced the Coincil of Trent. These two are the most recent popes canonized.

  • Greg Smith

    My daughter was 30 when he died. She said wistfully “He was the only Pope I remember.” For years afterwards, when the headlines said “The Pope….” I thohught for a second they meant JP-II.

  • Bruce

    Good stuff, and thank you for the great picture!



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