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Champion of Human Love


by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

Through his personal witness and tireless defense of the family, St. John Paul II proclaimed the dignity of every person

Carl A. Anderson

Carl A. Anderson

This month, we will celebrate the canonization of Blessed John Paul II. Some years ago, as part of the process for his canonization, I was interviewed by the office of the postulator of his cause. That interview was later published in the postulator’s magazine, Totus Tuus. I thought that this month would be an appropriate time to reprint a portion of that interview in place of my monthly column.

On June 28, 2005, you and your wife, Dorian, participated in the Opening Ceremony of the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God John Paul II. You also had the opportunity to be received on a number of occasions in private audience by John Paul II. What do you remember in particular about those meetings?

Earlier, Dorian and I were together in St. Peter’s Square for the funeral Mass of John Paul II. We saw those beautiful banners that proclaimed “Santo Subito” [“Sainthood Now”] and on that day we made that prayer our own; so we had to be in Rome in 2005 to participate with so many friends in the opening ceremony of the cause of John Paul II.

Private meetings with John Paul II were always remarkable because of his great interest in what was happening; he wanted the latest information about how situations were changing, what should be done to help and especially what could he do as pope to help. Yet conversations would often include questions about people he knew — were they well, how were their families, how was their work going? He was pastor of the universal Church, and he was also pastor of individuals and of families.

One special occasion was a meeting in which he blessed a painting of the Divine Mercy that we then used for a special pilgrimage throughout the Knights of Columbus. He wanted very much to spread this devotion throughout the world, and we wanted to be more closely united with him in this prayer.

On one of our last visits, the Holy Father was having great difficulty speaking, and so our conversation was mostly one-sided. We said good-bye and received his blessing. When we reached the door of his study, I turned to wave a final good-bye and he was sitting there repeatedly making the sign of the cross. Not even illness could prevent his desire to communicate with others. This was just a small glimpse of what the world would later see during the last days of his life.

“Loving Human Love: The Heritage of John Paul II on Marriage and the Family” was the theme of the 25th International Congress of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. In what way do you hand on this rich heritage as supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus?

“Loving human love” is such an accurate way to describe the heritage of John Paul II because perhaps more than anyone else in our time, he was truly the champion of human love. He knew that without love man’s life is unintelligible and that each person is of such tremendous dignity that only the response of love is worthy of the human person. …

The teaching of John Paul II in this area is so rich and complex that it will require many decades of scholarly study to do it justice.

In the Knights of Columbus, we take a more direct approach: we strive to build stronger Catholic families and parish communities through works of charity, unity and fraternity.

We view the pastoral legacy of John Paul II regarding marriage and family as the prophetic key to the future of strong Catholic communities. We take his message to heart of a new evangelization in which the role of the family and of the laity is central to the future well-being of the Church.

John Paul II will remain a spiritual father to us for many years to come.

Vivat Jesus!