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Welcome to the new Religion & Liberty!

We have the same serious content we have always had, but with a fresh, livelier new look. For many of you, R&L will arrive electronically, permitting us to reach more people at less cost – good economic stewardship!

R&L also has a new editor: me. After years of faithful service, Stephen Wolma has left the editorship to continue his preparations for ministerial service. We thank him for his work and wish him well.

You'll notice some changes, but we trust that you will still find R&L an appointment with Acton that you look forward to four times a year. (Yes, we're now quarterly instead of bi-monthly.)

I've been around Acton from a distance for more than a decade, and I look forward to working closely with my new colleagues, many of whom are already friends. And I hope you, the readers, will take the time to introduce yourselves by dropping a note or an e-mail.

This first issue of the new format is unlike any we have published before. It is devoted entirely to the late Pope John Paul II. He was decisive in my priestly vocation (see R&L May 2001 on our website) and in the lives of many others. But we devote this issue to him, because he was also decisive in the work of the Acton Institute. So much of what we do at the intersection of religion and liberty depends upon a correct understanding of the human person and of human freedom. In the last generation, no person has contributed more to that understanding than Pope John Paul II.

You will have read much about the late pope already. But I think you will find something new here from Acton's distinct perspective. Professor Mary Ann Glendon speaks about how the pope was genuinely interested in the social sciences, our field of study. Jerry Zandstra and Daniel Lapin illustrate that John Paul's influence – like Acton's work – is not limited to the Catholic faith alone.

I had the great blessing of being in Rome during John Paul's funeral, along with Acton's own Father Robert Sirico. We were both doing media work, helping tell the great story of those historic and holy days. I consider it another blessing that this first issue of the new R&L is devoted to the man whose story so enthralled the world: Pope John Paul II.

Father Raymond J. de Souza is a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ont., where he serves as chaplain for Newman House, the Catholic chaplaincy at Queen's University. Before entering the seminary, he studied economics at Queen's and the University of Cambridge, England, including a year abroad doing research in economic development in the Philippines. In addition to his priestly duties, Fr. de Souza teaches at Queen's, is frequently invited to be a guest speaker, and writes for several publications, both religious and secular.