Thursday, April 27, 2006

George Weigel Given Poland's Highest Honor

Congrats to our friend, George Weigel, for being awarded Poland's highest honor, the Gloria Artis medal. His book, Witness to Hope, about the late John Paul the Great is truly one of the great books written in recent times. I highly recommend it!


George Weigel, the well-known American Roman Catholic theologian, has been given the Gloria Artis medal for his services to Polish culture.

Slawek Szefs reports for Radio Polonia

George Weigel has a long-established reputation as one of America’s leading commentators on issues of religion and public life. His weekly column ‘The Catholic Difference’ is syndicated to sixty newspapers around the United States. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. But perhaps his major claim to fame is a major study of the life, thought and activities of Pope John Paul II.

Witness to Hope, the Biography of Pope John Paul II was published to international acclaim seven years ago. Its English edition was followed by those in French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, German and Russian.
A Chinese translations is in preparation. A documentary film based on the book has won numerous prizes.

During the presentation ceremony in Warsaw, George Weigel said that the Polish Pope’s biography was one of the most important projects in his life. ”It’s been one of the privileges of my life to help the world know a little more about Poland, its dramatic history and its unique culture, a culture which I believe has important things to teach the world at the beginning of the twenty first century.”

The Polish minister of culture and national heritage Kazimierz Ujazdowski, who presented George Weigel with the Gloria Artis medal, described him as Poland’s best ambassador in the world.
This is a book which shows the Polish Pope’s formative process, a process in which the history of Poland and the history of the nation’s struggle against communism played a key role. It was thanks to George Weigel that readers in Western Europe and America learnt about Polish history.

According to George Weigel, the role of Poland and the Polish Pope in modern history, and especially the overthrow of communism, cannot be overestimated.
”I think that the crucial moment was not a letter to Gorbachev or even a letter to Brezhnev…The crucial moment in the collapse of communism came in those nine days in June 1979 when the Pope came home and gave Poland back its authentic identity.” After his ‘Witness to Hope’, George Weigel has been continuing his research interests in the legacy of John Paul II. His latest book entitled “God’s Choice. Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, deals at length with the impact of the Polish Pope on his successor.


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