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Polish state honour for American theologian

15.05.2024 08:30
Prominent American Catholic theologian, writer and social activist George Weigel has been awarded a Polish state decoration in recognition of his contribution to promoting Poland internationally.
George Weigel
George Weigel PAP/Marcin Bielecki

Weigel received the Commander’s Cross of the Polish Order of Merit from President Andrzej Duda for his ”outstanding services in promoting a positive image of Poland in the world," according to an announcement by the Polish President's Office.

Born in 1951, Weigel is the author of several widely translated and internationally acclaimed books about the late Pope John Paul II.

His biography of the Polish pontiff published in 1999 under the title Witness to Hope is considered to be the most authoritative source on the life and pastoral work of John Paul II.

Its sequel, The End and the Beginning, subtitled Pope John Paul II–The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, published in 2010, focused on John Paul II’s role in the overthrow of communism. In 2017, Weigel published Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II.

Addressing a meeting in Warsaw on Tuesday marking the launch of the new, updated editions of the Polish translations of the first two of these books, Weigel stressed that the Church should stay away from current politics.

He said: “This [the Church’s involvement in politics] is what Pope John Paul II criticized in relation to Latin America and the liberation theology. It’s a perennial temptation for the Church ever since Constantine, but it’s one that we all have to learn in our different national situations over and over and over again. The identification of the Church with any one political party is lethal to the new Evangelization.”

Weigel’s output includes more than 30 books and hundreds of articles on a wide range of issues relating to the Catholic Church, law, theology and social sciences. He serves as a commentator on Vatican affairs for NBC Television and holds honorary doctorates from 19 universities around the world.

Weigel has maintained long-standing contacts in Poland, including in his role as a regular faculty member for the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society in the southern Polish city of Kraków.