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Pope John Paul II's final years examined

Loyola press release - February 14, 2011

Renowned author and lecturer George Weigel will explore the life, times and struggles of Pope John Paul II in an examination of his book, “The End and the Beginning, Pope John Paul II - The Victory of Freedom, The Last Years, The Legacy.” The lecture, sponsored by Loyola University New Orleans’ Catholic Studies program, will be held on Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. in Monroe Hall’s Nunemaker Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Weigel will trace the pontiff’s ongoing battle with communism, beginning in his native Poland with his ordination into the priesthood, and continuing throughout his life. New information about this ongoing conflict has become available in recent years as a result of classified documents either becoming declassified or having been leaked from KGB, Stasi and Polish Secret Police sources.

“As a young man, Karol Wojtyla studied drama, but the greatest human drama of the second half of the twentieth century is the story of his life, his calling, his pontificate,” said Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago. “George Weigel draws upon his immense personal knowledge and his finely tuned sense of history to describe the last act of John Paul’s life and offer a balanced and appreciative review of the play. This is a book for everyone who wants to be informed about the life of the Catholic Church in recent times, but those who knew and loved the late Pope are especially in Weigel’s debt.”

Weigel recounts in detail the tumultuous last years of John Paul’s life as he dealt with a crippling illness as well as the new world disorder following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and revelations about corruption within the Catholic Church. It concludes with a probing and comprehensive assessment of a man who lived his life as a witness to hope in service to the ideals he embraced.

Weigel is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center and one of America’s foremost commentators on issues of religion and public life, serving as the Vatican analyst for NBC News.