Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pope John Paul II

The final volume of the magisterial biography of John Paul II by George Weigel has been released, and it is a very must read, to understand much of what has been happening in the world over the past thirty years.

An excellent article about it is from The Catholic Thing.

An excerpt.

“The new book is subtitled “Pope John Paul II – The Victory of Freedom and the Last Years, the Legacy” and begins on the eve of the pope’s death in 2005, the world watching. St. Peter aside, possibly no other pope made such an impact on his age. Weigel writes that the pope had become a “global moral reference point.” Even if you disagreed with, disliked, or disparaged him, John Paul II had to be reckoned with; his influence was undeniable, not least because more people – in some cases millions at a time – had seen him in person than any other human ever. Everywhere he went, he gave love and received love.

“But God knows he had enemies; none greater than the leadership of international communism, and since the publication of Witness to Hope much previously classified material has become available. Weigel details how: “Vast human and financial resources were expended in the communist war against Karol Wojtyla . . . and the Church he led. Those efforts ultimately proved futile, for the weapons Wojtyla deployed were weapons whose impact communist tactics could not blunt.”

“How the poet-philosopher Karol –first as a priest, then as bishop, archbishop, cardinal, and finally as pope – became not just an opponent of communism but, indeed, its nemesis is a tale for the ages. Practically from his ordination (1946) the future pope was regarded with uneasiness by one or another state-security apparat behind the Iron Curtain. He became known in intelligence files as PEDAGOG, and in the two decades between his consecration as an auxiliary bishop and his election as pope, his residences were bugged, his movements tracked, his friends made targets of energetic secret-police recruitment efforts – some successful. The Reds came at him with all they had and in every imaginable way, and their failure was spectacular. They seemed never to understand him or to grasp how successfully he was actually undermining them. Vatican officials had long sought ways to keep the Faith alive in Eastern Europe and sought diplomatically a modus non moriendi, a “way of not dying,” that was sometimes perilously close to appeasement. Then along comes this gentle Polish warrior, and it’s the enemy that can’t survive. Few in the Vatican (or anywhere else) had foreseen this.

“How did it happen? Well, that’s what the first part of The End and the Beginning explains, but if you want the simple truth, it’s this: John Paul II’s faith was fearless. And it didn’t hurt that Ronald Reagan boldly had his back, although it was the pope who was indispensable in the process; he who told the world: “Be not afraid.” And the world believed him.

“Mr. Weigel argues that that there was a twofold cause of the pope’s apparent inattention to and inaction concerning the simmering sex-abuse crisis that fogged the final years of his papacy: first was poor communication between Rome and bishops (and their superiors) in the United States and elsewhere – men who lacked the courage to face the truth; and, second, was Papa Wojtyla’s own experience during his many battles with totalitarian ideologues – people for whom pedophile slanders were a frequent tactic. John Paul was told too little; he mistrusted what he heard.”