Peter's Successor

Pope John Paul II was a force of nature, a man of iron will and passionate spirituality, who was also blessed with a quick wit, a magnetic personality, and a fearless moral temperament.

There can be no gainsaying his extraordinary achievements, both on the world stage and as one of the most compelling Christian witnesses of our time. The millions who poured into Rome to view his body and attend his funeral were the most obvious testimony to the regard in which he was held by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Countless words have now been written honoring this pope, and trying to explain the powerful effect Karol Wojtyla exerted over the sophisticated and the unsophisticated, over believers and nonbelievers, and perhaps especially over those seeking faith in a world where religious answers and religious authority can no longer be taken for granted. In his dying as in his life, John Paul made his love of and devotion to Christ real for others in the most intimate and undeniable ways.

Commonweal has asked commentators of different faiths and philosophical inclinations to reflect on the broad sweep of John Paul’s legacy. Over his long papacy this magazine has, of course, written extensively about John Paul, and a selection of that material is available...

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