On February 4, 2015, George Weigel delivered the William E. Simon lecture at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC: “St. John Paul II: Lessons for Statesmen.” I’ll concentrate on three of the lessons that have a direct bearing on President Obama’s response or lack of one) to Putin and the Ukraine, Iran, and ISIS.
“Ideas count for good or for ill.”
“Weigel noted that John Paul II had personally experienced the horrific consequences of Hitler’s Nazi ideology and Stalin’s communist ideology, which led to the deaths of tens of millions, including friends and classmates. But he also experienced “the regenerative power of noble ideas, such as Christian democracy,” whose leaders, such as Germany’s Konrad Adenauer, helped rebuild Europe in the aftermath of World War II and set the foundation for what later would become the European Union. What was more crucial in John Paul II’s view was the idea of the human person being proposed. Weigel noted that democratic statesmen must take ideas, and the conflict over them, as seriously as measures of gross national product or military capability.”