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Food for Thought:

"When people say Pope John Paul II doesn't fit into the usual "conservative" or "liberal" categories, the lack of fit isn't due to his shape, but to his size. You can't encompass his full breadth and depth in a newspaper article, public statement, or television interview. All of these, then, are in a sense confessional commentary. What people select of the Pope's legacy to discuss is less a reflection on the Pope than it is on the selectors themselves."

So commented the blog Disputations in an assessment of the media's attempt to assess the legacy of Pope John Paul II.

With that caveat in mind, here is a collection articles, reporting and commentary from a variety of sources which, in our personal estimation, best convey to the reader the life, thought and teachings of our Holy Father. It is our hope that it will supplement your reading of the actual writings of John Paul II, and that you will come away with a greater appreciation for his service to Christ and His Church.

Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., is currently the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University. Past President of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society and Professor Emeritus at The Catholic University of America, Cardinal Dulles has served on the International Theological Commission and as a member of the United States Lutheran/Roman Catholic Coordinating Committee. He was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in February 2001, the first U.S. theologian to be so honored in such a manner. He is author of The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II.
John Paul II and the Mystery of the Human Person - Oct. 1, 2003. Fordham University McGinley Lecture. [Streaming Video]; Article in Print America February 2, 2004. Vol. 190 No. 3. [subscription required].
Truth as the Ground of Freedom: A Theme from John Paul II The Acton Institute, 2002.
Can Philosophy Be Christian? On the encyclical Fides Et Ratio. First Things 102 (April 2000): 24-29.
John Paul II and The Advent of The New Millennium originally delivered at Fordham University on Nov. 16, 1999 as the Eighth Annual Fall McGinley Lecture.
John Paul II and the Truth about Freedom First Things 55 (August/September 1995): 36-41.
Centesimus Annus and the Renewal of Culture Markets & Morality Volume 2, Number 1. Spring 1999. Speech delivered to a conference on the encyclical Centesimus Annus, sponsored by the Acton Institute, Washington, D.C., May 13-14, 1996.
The Gospel of Life: A Symposium. First Things, 56 (October 1995): 32-38. Participating in a discussion of Evangelium Vitae.

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus is editor-in-chief of First Things, published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, and the author of several books on Pope John Paul II, including Appointment in Rome: The Church in America Awakening -- chronicling the Synod for America held in Rome, 1997 -- to which he was a special delegate designated by the Pope -- and Doing Well & Doing Good: The Challenge to the Christian Capitalist, on the Papal encyclical Centesimus Annus.

Michael J. Novak
Michael Novak is the George F. Jewett scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

George Weigel
George Weigel is a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of the 1999 biography Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, which was published in eleven languages. He has traveled with the Pope and over the course of his life has explicated his thought in articles, interviews and addresses, which are collected here:
Moments, Public & Private, with the Pope. Interview with Fr. Raymond J. DeSouza. National Catholic Register Special Edition: John Paul II: A Life That Changed the World. April 10-16, 2005.
The Pope in Private, from the April 11 issue of Newsweek. ("A serious philosopher, John Paul II also had a serious sweet tooth . . . .")
Pope John Paul II and Evangelicals. Interview with Christianity Today. April 4, 2005.
John Paul II in Words and Pictures: Remembering the "Witness to Hope", Ethics & Public Policy Center (EPPC) COLLECTION April 4, 2005.
Mourning and Remembrance: The pope believed that "history" is His-story--the story of God's quest for man. Wall Street Journal April 4, 2005.
"A Man Who Believed That Jesus Christ Is the Answer". Interview with Zenit on the impact of John Paul II's pontificate. April 3, 2005.
A Disciple Defined by His Faith Obituary for The Boston Globe April 3, 2005.
Pope John Paul II: An Appreciation Scripps Howard News Service. April 2, 2005.
Witness to a Man of Hope & Inspiration Interview with Kathryn Lopez on the life and legacy of John Paul II. National Review April 2, 2005.
Lessons of a Pontiff's Twilight The Washington Post March 22, 2005.
The Next Pope...and Why He Matters to All of Us The Fourth William E. Simon Lecture. Delivered January 12, 2005.
What The Pope is Teaching Us Now Interview with Oct. 18, 2004.
The President and The Pope. From the Ronald Reagan Memorial Issue of National Review. June 22, 2004.
Why Everyone Counts: What John Paul II Has Helped Teach Us. Commencement speech at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. May 8, 2004.
A living prayer of self-sacrifice. "The Catholic Difference". Oct. 28, 2003.
The great Christian witness of our time. "The Catholic Difference". October 22, 2003.
The Heroic Papacy. "John Paul II has dramatically revitalized the world's oldest institutional office, and continues to surprise." Oct. 2003.
On the 25 Year "Silver Anniversary" of John Paul II Interview with Sept. 29, 2003.
The Pope & The Genius. On the Pope's appreciation of Michaelangelo. "The Catholic Difference". April 11, 2003.
On the Pope's New Poetry Interview with March 20, 2003.
And the Wall Came Tumbling Down: Pope John Paul II and the Collapse of Communism A Lecture Given at Grove City College (Grove City College, PA). Feb. 15, 2002.
John Paul II: A Life for Life Keynote Address: Culture of Life Conference Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. University of Notre Dame. 29 November 2001 [.pdf format]
Holy Land Pilgrimage: A Diary. First Things 104 (June/July 2000): 27-34.
The Holy Father in the Holy Land The Weekly Standard Volume 005, Issue 29 April 10, 2000.
Pope John Paul II and the Dynamics of History. The 2000 Templeton Lecture on Religion and World Affairs. Watch on the West Volume 1, Number 6. April 2000.
John Paul II and the Crisis of Humanism. First Things 98 (December 1999): 31-36.
John Paul II's Hope for the Springtime of the Human Spirit. Religion & Liberty. The Acton Institute. September-October 1999.
Prepared to Lead Crisis 15, no. 9. October, 1998.
John Paul II and the Priority of Culture. First Things 80 (February 1998): 19-25.
II Papa Meets El Presidente: John Paul II goes to Cuba. The Weekly Standard Volume 003, Issue 18. January 19, 1998.
John Paul II: preparing the 21st Century. Crisis 15 No. 10. November 1997.
The Mobile Pope From the issue "John Paul in America", The Weekly Standard October 9, 1995.

New York Businesswire announces :

HarperCollins will publish a new book about the end of Pope John Paul II's life and the beginning of a new era for the Catholic Church by George Weigel. . . . Weigel's as yet untitled new book, to be published later this year, will examine the death of the pope and the Church he left behind, while also offering an unparalleled inside account of the election of the next pope. With his unique access and experience, Weigel plans to provide an in-depth portrait of this key figure who will lead the Church into the 21st century, and a challenging analysis of the issues he and the people of the Church will confront.

"No writer today has a better understanding of the papacy than George Weigel," says Tim Duggan, Executive Editor at HarperCollins. "I'm absolutely certain that he will provide a rich, illuminating account that stands as the defining chronicle of this next phase in the Church's history."

Additional Commentary on the Person and Pontificate of John Paul II


John Paul II Center Opens in Thailand Zenit News. February 1, 2007.
John Paul II Showed That Christ Is All, Pope Says; Celebrates Mass on 2nd Anniversary of His Death April 2, 2007.
Cardinal Dziwisz Recalls Details of Pontiff's Life, Recalls "Life with Karol" Zenit. January 25, 2007 - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who had been the longtime secretary of Pope John Paul II, reveals in a new book some details of the 40 years he spent as the close companion of Karol Wojtyla.

Excerpts Roman Phase of John Paul I's Cause Is Open Zenit News Service. January 7, 2007.


John Paul the Great, by William Oddie | A selection John Paul the Great: Maker of the Post-Conciliar Church. [Ignatius Insight]
A Pope for All People, by David Shribman. Real Clear Politics. July 15, 2006.
Retranslating the Theology of the Body (Part 1) | Part II. Zenit. June 1-2, 2006. Interview with Michael Waldstein, the founding president of the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, on discovery of texts predating Pope John Paul II's pontificate which "sheds new light on his catechesis about love and sexuality."
Interview: "The Fatima Pope" [Part I] | Part II], interview with journalist and writer Renzo Allegri on the connection between John Paul II and Fatima. Zenit News. May 14-15, 2006.
Why John Paul II Proclaimed so Many Saints Interview w. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins. Zenit News. April 4, 2006.
John Paul II, the Fatima Pope, on a new book by Italian journalist Renzo Allegri. Zenit. April 6, 2006.
"John Paul II Left the Church Stronger", text of a homily preached Monday by the archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, at a Requiem Mass celebrated at Westminster Cathedral on the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. April 4, 2006.
"He Gave Suffering Dignity and Value" translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday night from the window of his study, to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the rosary on the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death. April 3, 2006.
The Cause for John Paul II's Beatification Interview with Cardinal José Saraiva Martins. April 2, 2004.
On John Paul II's "Way of the Cross", Pope Benedict XVI, translation of an address given before reciting the midday Angelus today with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square. Zenit News. April 2, 2004.
The Saints of John Paul II, by Philip Zaleski. First Things 161 (March 2006): 28-32.
At the Root of Karol Wojtyla's Philosophy Zenit News Service. February 19, 2006. Report on "The Personalist Philosophy of Karol Wojtyla," a 3-day congress sponsored by the Spanish Association of Personalism.


John Paul II and the Ethics of the Body - The New Atlantis No. 9, Summer 2005 - "two leading thinkers—Eastern Orthodox theologian David B. Hart and Lutheran theologian Robert W. Jenson—to consider the significance of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body for bioethics and beyond."
- The Anti-Theology of the Body, by David B. Hart.
-Reading the Body, by Robert W. Jenson.
The Pope of the Youth", by Mary Beth Bonacci. Crisis 23, no. 5 (May 2005). "Remembering Pope John Paul II: The remembrances of twenty Cardinals", from 30 Giorni [30 Days] Magazine. April 2005. Part I | Part II.
"John Paul II's Saints – and Us", by George Weigel. The Catholic Difference. (April 13, 2005).
What is the Legacy of Pope John Paul II?, by Gregory R. Beabout. April 13, 2005.
On the Death of Pope John Paul II, by Michael O'Brien. Ignatius Insight April 13, 2005.
John Paul II's Theology: An Anthropology From Perspective of Faith. Interview With Bishop-designate C.R. Berzosa Martínez. Zenit News Service. April 11, 2005.
"The Philosopher-Pope", by Paul Johnson. Wall Street Journal April 9, 2005.
Remembering a Great. Memories of Pope John Paul II by William J. Bennett, Fr. Basil Cole, OP, Sr. Sheila Galligan, Robert P. George and others. National Review Online, April 8, 2005.
"He's Moved on a Stage That's Absolutely Gigantic" Interview with Cardinal Pell. Zenit News Service. April 7, 2005.
'We Want God': When John Paul II went to Poland, communism didn't have a prayer, by Peggy Noonan. Wall Street Journal Thursday, April 7, 2005.
"The Pope of the Jews" Interview With Rabbi J. Bemporad, Director of Center for Interreligious Understanding. Zenit News Service. April 6, 2005.
John Paul II as a Pioneer of Woman's Human Rights Interview with German Theologian Jutta Burggraf. Zenit News Service. April 6, 2005.
Cardinal Arinze: "A Man of Prayer" Interview with Zenit News Service. April 5, 2005.
"The Great Unifier", by [Orthodox theologian] Jaroslav Pelikan. The New York Times April 4, 2005.
All-Embracing Man of Action for a New Era of Papacy, by Robert McFadden. New York Times April 3, 2005.
Bishop Renato Boccardo: "An Apostle of Mercy". Interview with Zenit News Service. April 3, 2005.
A Man for All Seasons: The very modern papacy of John Paul II Wall Street Journal. April 2, 2005.
"A magnificent pope who presided over a controversial pontificate", by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter April 2, 2005.
"He Lived the Splendor of Truth", by Thomas Hibbs. National Review April 2, 2005.
A Great Christian, by Fred Barnes. The Weekly Standard April 2, 2005: "John Paul II was beloved by Protestants, too, because he was the world's greatest defender of orthodox, Bible-based Christianity."
John Paul II, 1920-2005, by William Kristol. The Weekly Standard April 2, 2005.
A Man for All Seasons: The very modern papacy of John Paul II Wall Street Journal. April 2, 2005.
John Paul II: Prophet of Freedom , by Harold Fickett. Adapted from The Living Christ (Doubleday). Reprinted with permission. ©2002.
The Biblical Vision of Pope John Paul II, by Scott Hahn, Professor of biblical theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. April 2005.


The Pope, Bush, Right-to-Life and Religious Freedom. Interview With Philosopher Father Jesús Villagrasa. Zenit News Service. June 7 , 2004.
What It's Like To Be a Christian, by Peter Simpson. First Things 144 (June/July 2004): 23-28. An exploration of the Pope's "phenomenological personalism."


Vocations in the Pontificate of John Paul II, by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris.
L'Osservatore Romano 17/24 December 2003. Talk 6 of the Cardinals' Symposium, 15-18 October 2003, gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's Pontificate.
"An Effort to Take History Out of Its Inertia" Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, archbishop of Havana, on the 25 years of John Paul II's pontificate. Nov. 14, 2003. (Zenit News Service).
"Falling in love with Jesus makes everything else easy!", by Fr Sebastian Vazhakala, M.C. Co-founder and Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, on the Pope's 25th Anniversary and Mother Teresa's Beatification. L'Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English 22 October 2003.
Missions in the Pontificate of John Paul II, by Cardinal Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Bombay, India. L'Osservatore Romano. Talk 1 of the Cardinals' Symposium, 15-18 October 2003, met to celebrate the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's Pontificate.
Pope John Paul II: Letter of God, by Professor Mario Agnes Editor-in-Chief L'Osservatore Romano. Oct. 29, 2003. On the 25th Anniversary of his pontificate.
A Man of Vatican II, by James Hitchcock. This Rock Volume 14, Number 8, Oct. 2003.
Pope of Hope, by Karl Keating. This Rock Volume 14, Number 8, Oct. 2003.


The Dignity of the Human Person: Pope John Paul II's Teaching on Divinization in the Trinitarian Encyclicals, by Carl E. Olson. Originally published in Saint Austin Review in 2002. John Paul the Great: Prophet of Freedom, by Harold Fickett. Adapted from The Living Christ (Doubleday). Reprinted with permission. ©2002, Doubleday.


Pope John Paul: Servant of God, Hero of History, Remarks by President George W. Bush. Opening of The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. March 22, 2001.
The Nunc Dimittis of John Paul II, by Ralph M. McInerny. Catholic Dossier May/June 2001.
The Ecumenism of John Paul II, by Kenneth D. Whitehead. Keynote Address at the Reverend Joseph F. Costanzo, SJ., Memorial Foundation Symposium on the Encyclicals and Ecclesial Pronouncements of Pope John Paul II, Lincoln, Nebraska, November 2-3, 2001. Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter Vol. 24, No. 4. Fall 2001. pp. 5-12. [.pdf format].


The Christ-centered Anthropology of Gaudium et Spes in Light of Developments in Pope John Paul II, by Douglas Bushman. Catholic Dossier July/August 2000.


The Economic Personalism of John Paul II: Neither Right Nor Left, by Daniel Rush Finn. Journal of Markets & Morality Vol. 2, No. 1. Spring 1999.
John Paul II’s Theology of the Body<, by Mary Shivanandan. Catholic Dossier January/February 1999.


Showdown in Texas: The Pope vs. The Culture of Death, Charles E. Rice. Catholic Dossier September/October 1998.


The Pope on the Human Person, by James V. Schall, S.J. Catholic Dossier January/February 1997.
Evolution and the Pope, by Mark Brumley. Catholic Dossier January/February 1997.


The Pope in Germany, by Wolfhart Pannenberg. First Things 68 (December 1996): 6-8.
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: Infallible?, by Jack Healy. Homiletic & Pastoral Review December 1996.
Reconciling Old Lovers: John Paul on Science and Faith, by Michael Sherwin OP. Catholic Dossier July/August 1996.


Pope Shares a Little Wisdom with Teenagers in Manila, by Mary Beth Bonacci. Arlington Catholic Herald March 9, 1995.


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The Pope's Siege Mentality, by Rev. Peter Stravinskas. Faith & Reason Fall 1990.


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Address to the Pope, by President Ronald Reagan, on meeting Pope John Paul II. June 7, 1982.


Of Inquisitors and Pontiffs: Criticizing John Paul II, by Fr. James V. Schall. Homiletic & Pastoral Review June 1981.