Tag Archives: JPII

Where young doctors can train in good conscience

Pope St. John Paul II’s guidance from the Holy Spirit allowed him to accomplish miraculous feats. His dynamic leadership for life inspired the formation of the amazing St. John Paul II Life Center in Austin, Texas.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the center’s physicians, nurses, sonographers, and staff have been among the “heroes in uniform” across America sacrificing to help expectant mothers receive necessary medical care.

Pope John Paul II said that “freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” At any stage of gestation, an unborn child has his or her own DNA and unique fingerprints; therefore, saving the baby’s life correctly exercises one’s freedom.

Meet Dr. Ashley Stone, a wonderful young woman, intelligent, hard-working, and dedicated to the future she has chosen — to be a physician, an obstetrician. She loves children and wants to help bring babies into the world. She graduated from medical school and was accepted at a matched top choice location for her four-year ob-gyn residency.

Ashley started her second year and was in the family-planning rotation. One morning, she was told by her instructor that she would be going to a Planned Parenthood clinic where they perform abortions. She was fearful because she knew she would never participate in any aspect of abortion, yet she wanted to respect her instructor. She thought maybe she could do some good by going, but it became clear that her participation in their biased counseling and their pre-abortion ultrasounds would leave no opportunity for change. Rather, she would be informally cooperating with abortions. Even though she would not verbally assent, her actions would speak otherwise.

Her heart started to race as questions began flying through her mind. How could she live with herself and her conscience if she did participate? What would happen to her for refusing? Could she be removed from the residency program? What would be her rights as an American citizen and the Constitutional protection of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience?

Thankfully, Ashley knew her rights. The instructor was insistent that she participate. Ashley pushed back despite worries about future attempts at intimidation. Ashley boldly told the instructor that she knew she could opt out of the abortion training and that she also must be provided an alternative curriculum. The medical school and hospital told Ashley that these are not their requirements but those of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) — a nationwide, non-governmental organization (NGO) that sets the standards for residency programs and administers licensing certification programs for physicians. Their program requires training and hands-on experience on performing abortions. A student can opt out, but there are often minimal efforts to advise the residents of their rights.

To help young doctors like Ashley, the St. John Paul II Life Center, in cooperation with the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and Ascension Seton Hospital, has developed an alternative multiyear curriculum of instruction on women’s natural reproductive science. These residents are taught at the center by the center’s physicians who are adjunct professors. This alternative program commenced in July 2020, and one of the five incoming residents is participating.

The St. John Paul II Life Center plans to offer this alternative curriculum for the family-planning rotation to residency programs across America. If there is ever to be a way for future generations of physicians to bring back respect and dignity for human life in the womb, this is it! The center will proceed by the words of St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid!” Please pray for the program’s success.

TIM VON DOHLEN is a past president of Legatus’ Austin Chapter as well as an attorney, pharmacist, businessman, and former legislator. He and his wife, Pat, are co-founders of the St. John Paul II Life Center in Austin, Texas, where they reside. Their new book, In Life the Journey Is Everything, is available at www.jpiilifecenter.org or on Amazon.

WHAT TO SEE: Why the Wall came tumbling down

The Divine Plan
Robert Orlando (writer-director), Peter Reznikoff (narrator), Paul Kengor, George Weigel, Anne Applebaum, Douglas Brinkley, Bishop Robert Barron, Cardinal Timothy Dolan
117 min • Rated: PG

Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan each lost his father in his youth. Each clung to faith to guide him through difficult times. Both were actors. Each recognized the evil of atheistic communism and its oppression of human freedom. Each became a world leader, and each was shot and nearly killed in an assassination attempt in the spring of 1981. Most importantly, each believed his life was spared because God wanted him to play a role in the defeat of communism.

The two men bonded over this common goal — and, in the end, they triumphed, having exerted significant influence in such victories as the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War.

That all might sound a bit like that oft-published list of coincidences surrounding the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations, but it’s remarkably true. Most historians agree that this president and this pope played pivotal roles in bringing about popular and peaceful revolution across Central and Eastern Europe and liberating millions from the iron grip of communist rule.

That’s the premise of the documentary film The Divine Plan, which had a limited theatrical run in late 2019 and is now available on DVD, some streaming services, and through the Ignatius Press Parish Screening Program. By way of a retelling of the story along with the recollections and insights of historians, political figures, Church leaders, scholars, and journalists, The Divine Plan makes a rather compelling case.

Reagan and the pope both sensed they had a mission to fulfill, and that sense was only magnified by their near death experiences. In their private meetings, they spoke openly about this shared vision. Reagan himself was known to refer to the “DP,” or “divine plan,” of defeating communism. He felt he had a “rendezvous with destiny,” an apt term he borrowed more than once from FDR.

Reagan found the perfect ally in the Holy Father. Together, with help from above, they altered the course of history.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.



I Served a Saint: Reflections of a Swiss Guard in Honor of the Centenary of the Birth of St. John Paul II

Mario Enzler
Newman House Press, 127 pages


During the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II “we had an extraordinary example of human greatness, first with his apostolic vigor and then through his witness of faithfulness in suffering. Even in his end-stage illness, he pointed the way to an authentic human growth in all its dimensions, a growth nourished by spiritual food.” Through his reminiscences collected here from his daily personal contact, Former Swiss Guard Mario Enzler touchingly portrays the beloved pontiff as a man of immense faith, hope, joy, humility, intellect, and strength. The lessons he learned from John Paul are those we can all glean from this unique and marvelous work.

Order: Amazon

The Divine Plan: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Dramatic End of the Cold War

Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando
ISI Books, 288 pages

Did the Soviet Union collapse under its own weight? No way, say the authors of The Divine Plan. It wouldn’t have happened without the vision and collaboration of two remarkable world leaders, Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan. Each survived assassination attempts in the spring of 1981, and each came away recognizing their survival had a divine purpose – the annihilation of atheistic Communism, the cause of religious and political oppression, human-rights violations, and even death for hundreds of millions of people. Read this exhaustively researched work if you want to learn how the Cold War really ended.

Order: Amazon 

John Paul: Saint & inspiration

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan reflects on being in Rome for the Pope’s beatification . . .

Thomas Monaghan

I was privileged to be in Rome on May 1 for John Paul the Great’s beatification. I was there as a part of a pilgrimage led by Steve & Janet Ray and Legate Teresa Tomeo. The pilgrimage was handled by Legate John Hale’s Corporate Travel Co. They all did an amazing job!

During the trip, I pondered the far-reaching impact of this man, whom I and many other Legates had the privilege of meeting. Many things come to mind, yet it’s hard not to think back to the first time I met him. In 1987, I had the opportunity to receive Communion from him in his private chapel. I will always remember that experience, of looking into his eyes as I was about to receive the Eucharist. It truly served as the inspiration for Legatus. I had the idea for Legatus within hours of that encounter.

I don’t think we will fully comprehend the impact that this incredible man had on the Church and the world until we get to Heaven. How could we? His efforts over the years to implement the teachings of Vatican II, for example, encouraged the laity to be more active in the Church and to take more responsibility for evangelization and leadership in the Church. This corresponds directly to Legatus’ mission to study, live and spread the faith.

Tom Monaghan, Teresa Tomeo, George Weigel, Steve Ray

Many of John Paul’s encyclicals call all Catholics to know our faith and to spread it. He coined the phrase “new evangelization,” which became a rallying cry for a whole generation of Catholics. And his encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), which talks of the inherent dignity of work, is especially pertinent to us in Legatus. (See related story on page 15.)

This only scratches the surface of his impact on humanity. I invite you to thank God with me for the tremendous gift that Blessed John Paul has been to the Church — and to ask for his intercession for the world, the Church and for Legatus.

Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.

The End and the Beginning

George Weigel solidifies John Paul II’s legacy in this phenomenal volume . . .

weigelThe End and the Beginning
Doubleday, 2010. 608 pages, $32.50 hardcover

The book’s full title is a mouthful: The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy. As the follow-up to Witness to Hope (1999), Weigel’s new book draws on the last six years of John Paul’s life. He explores the Pope’s battle with communism, the Great Jubilee and visit to the Holy Land, the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. sexual abuse crisis, his efforts to build bridges with Eastern Churches, and his struggle with illness. A fine tribute to the man who changed the world and revolutionized the papacy.