Magazine October 16, 2017, Issue

Providence and a Pope

(Luciano Mellace/Reuters)
Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II, by George Weigel (Basic, 368 pp., $32)

When Sister Mary Euphemia, the principal at Cathedral School on Mulberry Street in Baltimore, assigned George Weigel’s third-grade class to pray for the conversion of “W-L-A-D-Y-S-L-A-W G-O-M-U-L-K-A” during Lent, Divine Providence knew what nobody in the first Catholic diocese in the United States could have at the time.

“Had anyone told me that, some thirty years later, I would write books in which [Communist Party boss] Wladyslaw Gomulka’s complex role in post-war Polish history figured prominently, I would have thought the prognosticator mad,” Weigel writes in this new book. “Yet there it is.”

When Pope Benedict visited the United States in 2008, the

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