On June 28, 2005, in Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, officially opened the cause for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Before John Paul died, many were already adding the title “the Great” to his name, and this practice has increased since his death. Pope John Paul II may eventually join Popes St. Leo and St. Gregory in being known as “the Great.”
In 2001 at Oxford, England, several scholars gathered for a conference on Pope John Paul hosted by the Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture. William Oddie, the editor of The Catholic Herald in England, presents in this book the lectures given at this conference. The scholars (Oddie, Ian Ker, Aidan Nichols, O.P., John Saward, Tracey Rowland, Roger Charles, S.J., Leonie Caldecott, Agneta Sutton, and Brendan Leahy) reviewed and discussed the pontificate of Pope John Paul II and brought forth reasons why he deserves the title “the Great.” They discussed his role in Vatican Council II and in developments since the council - the ecclesia movements, Mariology, the making of saints, feminism, sexual morality, social justice issues, and his other impacts on the Church and the world.
The consensus of the group seems to be that John Paul II is deserving of this title because, in his over twenty-six-year reign, he had such an impact not only on the Church, but also on the world. He helped to bring down Communism and bring freedom to many parts of the world. He also was known and respected as the world’s moral teacher who could call U.S. presidents and other leaders to task for their actions.
This book is not easy to read since it is a collection of essays by scholars presenting their lectures before other academics and might therefore be dry for the general reader. Those interested in Pope John Paul II and his papacy will enjoy this book. Those looking to understand why many people are calling for John Paul II to receive the title “the Great” should read this book for an over-all summary of the supporting arguments.