Review of John Paul II in America: Uniting a Continent

Review of John Paul II in America: Uniting a Continent


What or who do you think of when you hear the word courage?

When I think of courage I think of a documentary I recently watched. Produced by the Knights of Columbus, 'John Paul II in America: Uniting a Continent’ focuses specifically on his many visits to the Americas and the impact that they made.

It really is a must-see.

One of the things that I tend to forget is that John Paul led the Church in an incredibly challenging time. In the midst of massive social change (the Cold War and the threat of nuclear extinction; totalitarian regimes in power in much of Latin America; the sexual revolution and its resultant social problems; etc.), John Paul was there to exemplify a truly Christian response. He was a voice for justice and a symbol of hope. 

I knew that he had had a profound impact in bolstering the Solidarity movement in Poland, leading to the fall of communist rule there. But I was dimly aware at the sway he exerted in so many Latin American countries. It is amazing to take note of how many dictators fell in the aftermath of his visits!

In North America, with relatively a much greater religious freedom, his visits were still dramatic. He spoke a powerful message of hope (real hope), of human dignity and purpose, and of the sanctity of life.

After watching this documentary I am convinced that the histories of nations were profoundly altered because of John Paul. He literally changed the world.

I have to be honest. There are times in today’s world that I am discouraged, that I struggle to see the light. I read the world news and I am deeply troubled. I am grieved by the satanic violence of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. I recoil at the reality that death camps are still operating in places like North Korea. I hate that so many people still live in crippling poverty, and that even in our own country, children are killed every day in their own mother's womb.

Doesn’t it seem at times like that bad almost outweighs the good?

But I see the truly Christian response to such evil exemplified in John Paul. In the face of even greater oppression during WWII, the Cold War, and beyond, he showed a consistent disposition encompassing courage, faith, and hope.

You can see it in the words that opened his pontificate:

“Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ.”

Be not afraid of where he will lead. Be not afraid of the challenges he calls you to. Be not afraid, because the world needs you.

The world needed John Paul. And God entrusted an almost incomprehensible mission to him. History would have been different without him.

The world also needs you and I. God has entrusted a specific mission to you and a specific mission to me. If we do not embrace it, like John Paul did, it will not be accomplished. Think about that.

God has called each of us to greatness. That’s a fact.

Does that sound daunting? It does to me sometimes. But when it does, I’m reminding myself of John Paul’s lived witness and of his words.

Be not afraid, and look to Christ.

Grab a copy of John Paul II in America: Uniting a Contient for yourself at

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