George Weigel Discusses Pope St. John Paul II for National Catholic Schools Week

This week on The Learning Curve, cohosts Cara and Gerard and guest host Patrick Wolf, distinguished professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas, mark National Catholic Schools Week with George Weigel, author of the international bestselling, two-volume biography of Pope St. John Paul II. They explore how Karol Wojtyła’s education, deep faith, and experiences during World War II shaped his life as a spiritual leader and led him to play a pivotal role in the fall of Communism in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe. Pope John Paul II’s popularity among the world’s youth, Weigel explains, was grounded in a spirituality that defied contemporary culture and challenged young people to seek the “greatness that the grace of God makes possible in your life.” The interview concludes with Mr. Weigel reading from his biography of Pope St. John Paul II.

Stories of the Week

Cara and Gerard continue to explore the impact on education of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the U.S. and abroad. Cara discusses an Education Next column that concludes “billions of dollars are being spent on teacher professional development that takes hours of effort for mediocre or nonexistent results.” Gerard takes a closer look at a Brookings Institution report on alarming declines in youth literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa that researchers have tied to pandemic-induced school closures.


George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center. A Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading public intellectuals, he is the author of the international bestselling two-volume biography of Pope St. John Paul II, Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning. Weigel is the author or editor of more than 20 other books, including Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II. His essays, op-ed columns, and reviews appear regularly in major U.S. newspapers. A frequent guest on television and radio, he is also Senior Vatican Analyst for NBC News. His weekly column, “The Catholic Difference,” is syndicated to 85 newspapers and magazines in seven countries.

Tweet of the Week

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