John Paul II’s warning on ‘final confrontation’ with the ‘anti-church’

by PAUL KENGOR

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A remarkable gathering took place in the nation’s capital Sept. 26. In two locations, the John Paul II Shrine on the campus of The Catholic University of America and the Ronald Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, more than 500 people convened for a conference honoring Pope St. John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan and how these two men changed the world for the better.

The event featured speakers worldwide, from those who stood beside the Pope and the president to historians and scholars who have written about them. They ranged from the likes of Peter Robinson, who penned speeches for President Reagan, including the historic Berlin Wall speech, to Monika Jablonska, who has studied the writings of Karol Wojtyla and his poetry and plays. They included Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the postulator for the beatification and canonization of John Paul II, and Arturo Mari, papal photographer for L’Osservatore Romano, who began photographing popes in 1956 with Pius XII.

When I asked Mari if he had a favorite, he didn’t hesitate to say in Italian “Giovanni Paolo.” He gestured to his eyes and said of John Paul II: “You could see saintliness in his eyes.”

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