During the Christmas season of 1999, while living in Russia, I read George Weigel’s extraordinary biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope. It was not the first time I had reflected upon John Paul II, but it was the first time I understood the magnitude of his life. Over the course of many winter nights (and many mugs of Russian tea), I encountered John Paul not only as one of the most consequential popes in church history, but also as one of the most consequential world leaders—a man who, in Weigel’s words, “sums up the trials and triumphs of the human spirit in the decades after World War II.”

To read the rest of the article, originally published at First Things Magazine online, click here.


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