John Paul

Answering the Conspiracy Theorists

One of the first things I learned as a trainee journalist years ago was about “green ink” letters. These were letters from people with Very Strong Opinions who Fixated upon Certain Priorities, often concerning conspiracy theories. They were filed in the wastepaper basket. That was at a local weekly newspaper, and the number of green-ink … Read more

The Light that Scathes All Shadows

As a literature teacher, I’m marking the Easter season in one way I know how: assigning books that are suited to the season. This week we’re reading that lyrical, enormously uplifting work of Charles Péguy, The Portal of the Mystery of Hope. A gifted poet, Péguy lived among the poor, defended the innocent Dreyfus, embraced and … Read more

Servant of the Servants of God

The statement was pompously worded, expressing regret about what was to follow. Alas, it said, weeping crocodile tears, it gave no pleasure to present this statement to the public, but it had to be done. Pope John Paul II, it declared, was a terrible pope and should not be called blessed. With such an opening, … Read more

Giving Gifts, Counting Costs

Rumors are flying. Is she or isn’t she? Will she or won’t she? The subject is celebrity mom Katie Holmes, naturally, and the second child she is rumored to be currently gestating or planning to conceive with her husband, Tom Cruise. Let the talking and stalking begin! I don’t usually pay much attention to tabloid … Read more

What makes a ‘fast-track’ saint?

Many people have commented on the speed with which John Paul II seems to be progressing toward sainthood, with some raising questions about whether it’s appropriate. Over at the National Catholic Reporter, though, John Allen says that John Paul isn’t the first to travel quickly through the process — just ask St. Francis (18 months … Read more

A Life of Miracles

The otherwise inexplicable cure of a French nun suffering from Parkinson’s disease was accepted in early January by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Pope Benedict XVI as the confirming miracle that clears the way for the beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday. John Paul II’s life … Read more

Is the Vatican rushing JPII’s canonization?

The miracle of a French nun’s recovery from Parkinsons through the intercession of Pope John Paul II has been confirmed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Now it must be approved by a commission of bishops and cardinals before a date is set for beatification. But Catherine Pepinster at the Guardian wonders … Read more

Say No to the Ground Zero Victory Mosque

This weekend, my home town will be the site of an extraordinary event. Let me beg everyone who is able to make the pilgrimage to Ground Zero on the ninth anniversary of the Islamist mass-murder attack on our country. It is there that thousands of citizens will gather at 3 p.m. at Park Place (between … Read more

Did Rev. Maciel sexually abuse his own son?

In a sadly unsurprising development, Jose Raul Gonzalez — who is allegedly one of the late Rev. Marcial Maciel’s illegitimate children — is claiming that his father molested him, as well. Jose Raul Gonzalez is seeking unspecified damages from the Legionaries of Christ in a lawsuit filed Monday in Connecticut. The international group has its … Read more

Remembering Pope John Paul II

I loved Pope John Paul II. In fact, I’m not sure I’d be Catholic today without his writing, example, and leadership. No matter how his papacy is measured in the long run, to me he reigns supreme as a man who combined personal holiness with brilliance. While his administrative failures related to the sex abuse … Read more

One Hundred Fifty-Three Fish and Related Matters

When Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, there were any number of fascinating coincidences that surrounded his death. They were the sort of things that make you go “hmm” and (if one is a wobbly agnostic) begin to suspect that maybe You Know Who has His hand in things after all. John … Read more

The Better Pope?

Ross Douthat’s column in this Sunday’s New York Times is definitely a thought-provoking one. He notes that, whereas Pope Benedict is repeatedly pummeled by the press, John Paul II was generally well-liked, or at least respected — but that doesn’t mean that he was necessarily the better pope: The last pope was a great man, … Read more

Crunching the Numbers on Sainthood

I’m a sucker for charts and graphs, so this preliminary study on “The Economics of Sainthood” had plenty to entertain me. The authors explain their purpose: Saint-making has been a major activity of the Catholic Church for centuries. The pace of sanctifications has picked up noticeably in the last several decades under the last two … Read more

John Paul II and the value of suffering

Hoo boy. This story is just tailor-made for breathless secular reporting: Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the “postulator” for Pope John Paul II’s cause for sainthood, has published a book titled Why He’s a Saint that claims, among other things, that the former pope practiced self-flagellation: In the book, Oder wrote that John Paul frequently denied himself … Read more

A Tale of Two Popes

When Pope John Paul II visited Britain back in 1982, I went to meet him at the airport. I wasn’t the only one, of course: I went with a parish group that took a coach to the airport at three in the morning so as to be there on time, joining vast numbers of other … Read more

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

“It takes three to make a quarrel,” said Chesterton. “There is needed a peacemaker. The full potentialities of human fury cannot be reached until a friend of both parties tactfully intervenes.” Chesterton was being funny, of course. But, as always, he was wisely pointing to a truth as well. It is the truth that keeps … Read more

The Bonds of Friendship

Great biographical memoirs can arise from lucky coincidence: familial bonds, old school ties, or professional postings allow the narrator unrivalled access to his famous subject. Dark secrets, character insights, and historical footnotes enlarge and challenge the readers’ understanding.   A Life with Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, … Read more

A Mother’s Space

This morning, I conducted an experiment. 8:15 a.m.: I lock myself in the bathroom.    8:15 a.m. and 4 seconds: The baby’s fat fingers appear at the bottom of the doorway. “Mama?” he calls out in alarm. He plunks his bottom on the floor just outside the door and whines. 8:17 a.m.: Three-year-old beats on … Read more

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