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A pope's legacy
Known largely for her work as a speechwriter for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush during the late 1980s, Peggy Noonan is also a devout Catholic who regained her religious faith during those same yearspartially through watching the ministry of Pope John Paul II, "the Great," as she and millions of others referred to him. Her new book, John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father, is not a political tome (though politics comes into it, as faith and politics often collide). Nor is it a biography of Karol Wojtyla, though his life story permeates the book. Instead it is a study of faithJohn Paul's faith, Noonan's own faith and the faith of the worldand how one man's love and conviction spurred the hearts of others. It was John Paul's faith, says Noonan, that led her to embrace the Catholicism she had largely abandoned in her youth. It was John Paul's faith that inspired the people of Poland to stand against their tyrannical leaders, that chiseled the crack that eventually crumbled the Iron Curtain, and that led people to see the Roman Catholic Church as a real and vibrant presence in the modern world. Noonan does not sugarcoat John Paul's era. The pope and the church had (and still have) flaws, she says, and she deals with them forthrightlybut always with a love for her faith and the pope she revered.