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George Weigel: John Paul II's impact and role emerged out of his Christian discipleship

One hundred years since the birth of Polish saint John Paul II, the Church remembers Karol Wojtyla fondly and the lessons he taught the world during his 26 years as pope.

John Paul II's biographer, George Weigel says the saint should not be remembered with nostalgia, instead the wealth of the knowledge he left should be studied more deeply.

John Paul II's Biographer
“His impact on the world stage, his pivotal role in the collapse of European communism, emerged out of his Christian discipleship and his life as a Catholic pastor.”

He called Christians to greatness, especially young people. He began World Youth Day in 1986 and Weigel says youth were attracted to him for a couple reasons. 

John Paul II's Biographer
First was his transparent honesty. There was nothing false about the challenge of discipleship that John Paul II put before young people. The second reason was that he didn't pander to young people. Young people are pandered to constantly by culture, by advertising, often by teachers and unfortunately by parents. There was no pot pandering in John Paul II.

He fought against the culture of death, rejecting when a human, at any age, is not given the right to live, is not loved and is not free. 

That also carried into his connections with others. The saint had a way of remembering those he met and making each one feel important. 

John Paul II's Biographer
“Because he believed that everyone was a “someone” for whom Jesus Christ had suffered died and was raised from the dead, he could touch all of those “someones” in an individual and deeply personal way.”

His life ended with suffering, but he writings live on. He wrote more encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, constitutions and letters during his pontificate than any other pope.  

Melissa Butz