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The founding of the initial Love and Responsibility Discussion Group in New York was motivated by the realization that not only is Pope John Paul II a good and great man worthy of our profound admiration, but it is also possible to know what he thinks. The Holy Father, while a priest and later as Pope, has authored many books, encyclicals, poems, and plays. It is possible to read these writings.

The book Love and Responsibility is a particularly appropriate starting point for understanding the Pope’s thinking, not only because it was published earlier in his life, in 1960, nearly two decades before he ascended to the throne of St. Peter in Rome, but also because it generously gives its attention to the greatest issue of our lives...and our afterlife: love.

Our experience with the Love and Responsibility Discussion Group in New York has been extremely positive. We’ve been meeting for over two years now, and our participants have not only grown in their understanding of the beauty of the Pope’s and the Church’s teaching on love and human sexuality, but we’ve become great friends as well. This past summer, twelve of us became partners and shared a summer house in the Catskill Mountains with many more guests.

A key to our success is that we have been moving very slowly through the Holy Father’s writings. We meet every two weeks or so, and sometimes seek to accomplish as “little” as getting through six pages in one session. But, the Pope’s thought is so rich that not only is such a slow pace called for, it allows the extraordinary wonder of the Pope’s thinking to “sink in.”

From time to time, we have special guest lecturers, and these speakers do not always have to talk directly about the relevant section of the book. We also keep our eyes open for other events in New York City that would be of interest to our group.

At each of our discussions, one of the participants will summarize the section for those in attendance. This can be helpful, particularly if the presenter is well-prepared and has given the section considerable thought. It also allows those who have not done their “homework” to participate more readily. The goal is to include as many people in the discussion as possible, even if they are not able to make every session or prepare always in advance.

Organizationally, it is essential that each Love & Responsibility Discussion Group have at least two partners running it. The mutual encouragement is vital, and there will be meetings where one or the other co-organizer can’t make it.

“Marketing” the group is an ongoing requirement. In New York, we have been fortunate to have several friends and participants enthusiastically spread the word. Maintaining a good e-mail list is a great help in this area.

We are pleased that our Boston Love & Responsibility Discussion Group has now entered its second year with a growing number of outstanding members, and our newest group, in Camden, New Jersey, is off to a fine start. We would welcome the founding of many more groups not only in the United States, but in other countries of the world, as well — and, thanks to our great experience at Toronto’s World Youth Day — it seems that our wishes will be granted.

We Catholics are insufficiently aware of the tremendous beauty of our Church’s teaching on love and human sexuality, and we do not appreciate as we should that with us on this Earth is one of the great thinkers ever on the subject — Pope John Paul II.

We invite you to join with us and experience the joy of getting to know his thought better!

Please feel free to e-mail us with any questions you may have. Thank you!