Universal Father: A Life of Pope John Paul II

Universal Father: A Life of Pope John Paul II

by Garry O'Connor

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Pope John Paul II is now universally considered to have been one of the great leaders of the twentieth century and possibly the most politically influential pope since St Peter. His achievements are well documented, yet he once said, 'I can only be understood from the inside.' In this vivid and accessible living portrait, O'Connor investigates the inner man, including Karol Wojtyla's life before he became Pope and his friendships with men and women, subtly analysing the Pope's own poems, plays and philosophical works for clues as to what made him tick. It also dramatically follows his life, from his birth in Poland in 1920, through the losses that shaped his childhood, the assassination attempt in 1981, and his great public confrontations on the world stage, right up until his death in April 2005.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781408847077
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 08/22/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 428
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Garry O'Connor is the author of highly praised biographies of Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft, Paul Scofield, Alec Guinness, Sean O'Casey and William Shakespeare. He lives near Banbury with his wife and six children.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Picture Creditsix
Part 1A Slav Troubadour in Troubled Times (1920-46)
1Like Death, Beyond Comprehension5
2I Became a Motherless Only Child15
3When the Ship Is Sinking, What Is Private?25
4Vita Cracoviensis46
5The Year of Three Plays56
6Equilibrium Which Love Learns Through Anger65
7The Actor Carries the Problem75
8Hidden Forces Produce the Strongest Actions88
9The Black Hood Went over His Head102
Part 2The Hidden Breath of the Spirit Will Unify All (1946-78)
10Living in Little More than a Hut109
11My train to Krakow Isn't until after Midnight124
12Sexual Drive Is a Gift from God140
13The Tangle of Bushes and Shoots154
14Was this Goodbye to the Inner Man?162
15Death, the Place of Greatest Concentration174
Part 3The Pope of this Distracted Globe (1978-90)
16Peter, You Are the Floor197
17He's cleaned up His Plate208
18Other Points of the Compass224
19Opening the Ways of the Spirit233
20Be Sober, Be Watchful242
21Siege or Sanctuary?256
22The Ravelled Sleeve of Christianity264
23What Do They Think I Said Next?278
24Now for the Polish Endgame281
Part 4The Nearer we Are to the Mountain, the Smaller we Are (1990-2005)
25Was He Losing the Plot?303
26The Connection with Suffering314
27Still Seeking to Heal319
28True Protagonist of the Story332
29The Outward Husk of Mortality341
30Final Lighting of the Lamp347
Documents of John Paul II403
Select bibliography411



Pope John Paul II is universally considered one of the great leaders of the twentieth century for his resolute resistance to Soviet Communism, for his steadfast opposition to war, and for opening up the papacy to ordinary people. He will go down in history not only as the third longest-serving pope, but possibly the most politically influential of all 305 popes and antipopes since St. Peter.

Born in Poland in 1920, Karol Wojtyla’s early life experiences were of intense love and intense loss: he was eight when his mother died, twelve when his older brother died of scarlet fever, and twenty when his severe but loving father died during the Nazi occupation. An athlete, a gifted poet, playwright and actor, by 1944, after a near fatal accident, Wojtyla was studying for the priesthood in secret. So began a lifelong quest to understand good and evil in the human heart.

Five years in the making, Universal Father is a vivid and scrupulously researched portrait of this extraordinary man. Beginning with Wojtyla’s trying childhood and his early years as a priest in rural Poland, and continuing on to his travels to Rome, and his subsequent papal reign, O’Connor’s biography is unparalleled for the attention it also gives to the inner man—including a subtle analysis of the pope’s own poems, plays, and philosophical works. An exploration of both the personal tragedies in the pope’s life, among them the assassination attempt in 1981, and the public triumphs, such as the great public confrontations with Soviet Communism in his native Poland, Universal Father is arevealing and profoundly moving testament.

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