Pope John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla, will be beatifed Sunday in a Mass at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
Reports out of Rome say that nearly a million pilgrims have gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Polish pontiff.
Six years after his death, what is the legacy of Pope John Paul II? On Faith took this question to some of American Catholicism’s most influential thinkers (we like to think of it as a Catholic All Star Team) and we’ve assembled their responses below.
Papal biographer George Weigel explores whether John Paul II is the most consequential pope of last five hundred years
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Sr. Mary Ann Walsh: Pope John Paul II: a pontiff made for television . “People have heard about saints for centuries. This beatification, which is a step toward sainthood, raises up someone many feel they knew.”
America Magazine’s Fr. James Martin on Why a liberal Catholic (like me) likes Blessed John Paul II. “In my eyes, anyone who visits the prison cell of his would-be assassin to forgive the man is a saint.”
Colleen Carroll Campbell, EWTN host, pens Pope John Paul II: staunch defender of the dignity of women. “The late pontiff called for a ‘new feminism’ that ‘rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination’ in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.’”
Popular blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf explores John Paul’s “virile, muscular Catholicism,” writing, “He was a giant of a man who persevered in his simple message to his very last heartbeat: Do not be afraid to love your Lord with all your heart and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Danielle Bean, a Catholic author, is editorial director of Faith & Family magazine and Faith & Family Live. Bean reflects on her experience of giving birth during the last days of JPII, and how his example encouraged her and her family in Pope John Paul II gave us his fearless example.
Bill McGarvey, Catholic author, musician and former editor-in-chief of the spirituality website BustedHalo.com writes that for him, “Saintliness is not a black and white issue.” On John Paul's mixed legacy, McGarvey writes, “The former pontiff’s outreach to Jews and willingness to ask for forgiveness was transformational. But his defensiveness and inability to address the reality of the sexual abuse scandal continues to haunt every committed Catholic.”
CatholicVote.org blogger Thomas Peters on how some millenial Catholics related to the late pontiff. "Pope John Paul II served as a ‘spiritual grandfather’ to our generation," writes Peters.
Ambassador Doug Kmiec reflects on how John Paul’s fearlessness has sustained him during the recent darkness in Kmiec’s life in ‘Be not afraid’ a lasting legacy. “Unlike the moral confusion or secular exclusion that lurks in the aptly named Foggy Bottom, in Malta there is a clear recognition that, as the Holy Father taught, ‘the most serious pastoral problem in today’s growing secularism is the separation of faith from moral life.’”
Catholic convert Jennifer Fulwiler on how Pope John Paul II changed her life.”The first time I took notice of Pope John Paul II was at his funeral. I was an atheist, as I had been for the duration of his pontificate, and I sat with my husband, a non-practicing Baptist, to watch the coverage.“
Be sure to read Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein ’s story on how ordinary Catholics still revere John Paul II.
We’d love to hear from you, too. What is the lasting legacy of Pope John Paul II? How did he impact your life?