As a Catholic and as a Christian I am overjoyed that earlier this Divine Mercy Sunday and Second Sunday of Easter, in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II (1920 — 2005). As one of 100% Polish heritage, I am particularly grateful for the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II and thankful to Pope Benedict and to God for this new recognition. Blessed John Paul II has certainly been a true hero and inspiration of mine since 1978. In particular, he has been a source of courage in my life in countless ways; both to follow Christ and live in a human way.
Catholic theologian and popular author George Weigel, has a good piece in the Washington Post, this week reflecting on John Paul II:
John Paul II was arguably the most consequential pope of the last five hundred years.
His radical Christian discipleship, and his remarkable capacity to let that commitment shine through his words and his actions, made Christianity interesting and compelling in a world that thought it had outgrown its “need” for religious faith. He was a man of extraordinary courage, the kind of courage that comes from a faith forged in reflection on Calvary and the murder of the Son of God; the kind of courage that inspires courage in others. Against the cultural conventions of his time, he showed that young people want to be challenged to live lives of heroism. He lifted up the dignity of the human person at a moment when the West was tempted to traipse down the path to Huxley’s brave new world of manufactured and stunted humanity. And he proclaimed the universality of human rights with a power that helped bring down the greatest tyranny in human history.
I’m often asked about the most striking human traits I saw in John Paul II over more than a quarter-century of observation and during twelve years of intense personal conversation. One answer I frequently give is that the late pope was the most intensely curious man I’ve ever known. His mind was always oriented toward the present and the future. He always wanted to know about the new books, the new articles, and the new arguments in my corner of the intellectual and cultural world. He even wanted to know the latest pope-jokes.
Image: John Paul II by Grzegorz Gałązka