October 6, 2011

Review: The End and the Beginning -Pope John Paul II - The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy

The End and the Beginning -Pope John Paul II - The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy

In this sequel to Witness to Hope, author George Weigel, examines the beginning of John Paul II priestly life in the last months of his pontificate. What emerges in his portrayal is the resoluteness and personal courage of Karol Wojtyla in the face of great adversity and physical suffering. It is revealed that the harassment and internment of Catholic priests during the Nazi and Communist regimes in Poland were not lost on the young Wojtyla. As he began his priestly formation we learn how Communist authorities spied on Wojtyla as a rising star in the Catholic Church. Weigel outlines the future pope’s intellectual pursuits, the development of his thought, and the genesis of his growth into a world class philosopher. What shines through in this biography is the humility and fortitude that Wojtyla exhibited throughout his life.

The End and the Beginning – John Paul II is a must read for any Catholic interested in the life of the late pontiff. I learned a great deal about John Paul that I did not know previous to reading the book. I was unaware of the extent to which he suffered physically. The sex abuse scandal that emerged in the United States and elsewhere was the source of much anguish and emotional suffering for John Paul as he sought to resolve the crisis. The adversity he faced as a underground seminarian and young priest are also chronicled in full. Wojtyla never wavered in the face of challenges or for fear of anguish, disappointment, or personal persecution.

George Weigel is a brilliant Catholic thinker and writer. He brings Karol Wojtyla alive as someone who knew and was befriended by Wojtyla and as someone who studied John Paul’s life assiduously. Weigel weaves historically relevant background information into his narrative. He places John Paul’s thought, actions, and papacy in their historical context. The love of John Paul for his fellow human beings is evident throughout the End and the Beginning. The future John Paul II was a saint from the very beginning.   

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. To find more information on The End and the Beginning - Pope John PauL II visit The Catholic Company. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible

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