St John Paul II – Access All Areas

Filed in Catholic by on August 7, 2014 6 Comments


JPII – Access All Areas was published recently by One by One Press, a project of the Irish Dominicans. The book comprises 23 short chapters which reveal in manageable chunks the thought of Saint John Paul II. What is exciting is that each chapter has been written by a member of the ‘JPII generation’. I was asked to write the chapter on John Paul II and catechesis, which was an immense joy, since I have a great love for both topics…

I just received a copy of the book at the weekend and read it on the train. It is a great read. Topics include World Youth Day, Theology of the Body, John Paul’s understanding of anthropology and women, Our Lady, work, moral theology, his Letter to Artists, and much more. I like the fact that the book is littered throughout with glimpses into the Saint’s life. So, as you’re deepening your understanding of these issues, you’re at the same time learning about a truly inspiring man.

That is the wonderful thing about the incarnational character of our Faith – what we believe becomes visible when it is ‘enfleshed’, when it moves from the realm of ideas into the realm of experience, when the ‘Word becomes flesh’. This was the wonder of John Paul II – we witness the drama of redemption in his thought and his teaching, but most profoundly in the events of his life. This is what a Saint is – one in whom the mystery comes truly alive.

Here is the blurb from the publisher:

“The intention of this volume is to introduce John Paul to a new public, a younger generation… this volume is a fitting tribute both to his memory and to the enduring effect of his papacy.” said Archbishop Charles Browne, Papal Nuncio to Ireland, who will launch the new publication in Knock Shrine on April 27th.

Divided into twenty-three short, readable chapters, this book enables readers of all backgrounds to understand better St John Paul’s various writings:

Breda O’Brien (Journalist) writes on John Paul II and the dignity of women. Ray Kinsella (UCD), recounts his mission for world peace. Ryan Connolly (Student) comments on his ‘Letter to Artists’, while John Waters (Writer) addresses his thoughts on the worker. Fr. Alan O’ Sullivan explains John Paul’s hugely significant restatement of Catholic teaching on sexuality, ‘the Theology of the Body’, while Niamh Uí Bhriain (Life Institute) outlines his teaching on life issues and human dignity. Fr Gerard Dolan writes on John Paul II and the Eucharist. Gareth Carroll (Youth 2000) discusses the ‘World Youth Day’ phenomenon.

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About the Author ()

Hannah Vaughan-Spruce is an experienced catechist and youth worker, who now works for the Diocese of Portsmouth. Some of her Jericho Tree articles were first posted at her personal catechetical blog Transformed in Christ. They are used here with permission. See

Comments (6)

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  1. kentgeordie says:

    John Paul was a great preacher of our faith, but he is the one who presided over and to some extent caused the terrible decline of the faith in these islands.
    How is this contradiction to be resolved? Not by hero worship.

    • Paul Rodden says:

      Hi kentgeordie.
      Can you unpack that please?

      • kentgeordie says:

        To put it more bluntly than one might wish, it was JPII who appointed the episcopate who have presided over the sorry decline of Catholicism in the UK and further afield.

        • Paul Rodden says:

          Hi Kentgeordie,

          Thanks for explaining.
          I can appreciate your point, and I’m almost certain Michael Voris would agree :)

          But, when I returned to the Catholic Church after years as an Evangelical, one thing I learnt ‘outside’ was my own responsibility as a Christian.

          I have a hunch that the rot had set in a long time before Vatican II even with a ‘clericalist’, ‘Yes, Father’ mentality in the pews (Frank Sheed remarks upon this mindset at the start of his ‘Theology for Beginners’), and the idea that he was there to provide ‘services’, which created a ‘passivity’ in the laity which is, sadly, still present today.

          From my perspective, Bishops are simply too remote to be worth bothering about in the context of your complaint. I have to ask myself what I am doing, and whether that’s causing decline or encouraging the little sparks of faith around me, and its surprising where they are if one’s hunting for them.

          In fact, Michael Voris quoted Pope Francis, to priests, the other day. But, his message is just as much to us, isn’t it?
          “Say it to his face, you’re a man, so if you have something against your bishop, go and tell him. There may be consequences, but pick up your cross, BE A MAN!”

          So, maybe you have a point, but it seems to me that’s water under the bridge. What am I doing today?, is my question…

          • kentgeordie says:

            Many thanks for your thoughtful response. I think I agree with what you say. We tend to get the bishops we deserve, and it is right that we should look to our own deficiencies before casting any stones.
            Even so, the Church must be led by its leaders, the flock must be guided by its shepherds, and there is a longing among many sections of the laity for bolder leadership. Thank God, we are beginning to see the emergence of prelates who wish to proclaim as well as to listen.

  2. Paul Rodden says:

    Thanks for the head’s up on this.

    There are so few books (if any, thinking on it) which unpack his ideas in an accessible format, apart from TOB.

    I trust your judgement on things like this, so it might be one of those books I keep always at hand to give away to folks.


    BTW when’s the Confirmation book being released?

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