Benedict XVI Remembers John Paul II
"He Engendered Many Sons and Daughters in the Faith"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2009 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today at the Mass to mark the fourth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death, held in St. Peter's Basilica.

* * *

[In Italian]

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Four years ago, exactly today, my beloved Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, ended his pilgrimage on earth, after not a brief period of great suffering. We celebrate the Holy Eucharist for the repose of his soul, while thanking the Lord for giving him to the Church for so many years as zealous and generous Pastor. His memory, which continues to be alive in people's heart, brings us together this afternoon, as demonstrated also by the uninterrupted pilgrimage of faithful to his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes. Therefore, I preside over this Mass with emotion and joy, while greeting you and thanking you for your presence, dear faithful coming from different parts of the world, especially from Poland, for such a significant event.

[In Polish]

I would like to greet the Poles, particularly Polish youth. On the fourth anniversary of the death of John Paul II, accept his appeal "Do not be afraid to entrust yourselves to Christ. He will guide you, he will give you the strength to follow him every day and in every situation" (Tor Vergata, Vigil of Prayer, Aug. 19, 2000). I hope this thought of the Servant of God will guide you on the paths of your life, and lead you to the happiness of the morning of the Resurrection.

[In Italian]

I greet the cardinal Vicar, the cardinal archbishop of Krakow, and the other cardinals and prelates; I greet the priests and the men and women religious. I greet you in a special way, dear young people of Rome, with this celebration you prepare yourselves for the Word Youth Day that we will live together next Sunday, Palm Sunday. Your presence brings to mind the enthusiasm that John Paul II was able to infuse in the new generations. His memory is a stimulus for all of us, gathered in this basilica where on many occasions he celebrated the Eucharist, to let ourselves be illumined and challenged by the Word of God, just proclaimed.

The Gospel of this Thursday of the fifth week of Lent proposes for our meditation the last part of Chapter 8 of John, which contains a long dispute over the identity of Jesus. Shortly before he had presented himself as "the light of the world" (12), using on three occasions (24, 28, 58) the expression "I am," which in a strong sense alludes to the name of God revealed to Moses (cf. Exodus 3:14). And he adds: "If any one keeps my word, he will never see death" (51), thus declaring he was sent by God, who is his Father, to take to men the radical deliverance from sin and death, indispensable to enter into eternal life. However, his words wound the pride of his interlocutors, and also the reference to the great Patriarch Abraham became a motive for conflict. "Truly, truly , I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (8:58).

Without mincing words, he declares his pre-existence and, therefore, his superiority in respect of Abraham, arousing -- understandably -- the scandalized reaction of the Jews. But Jesus cannot be silent about his own identity; he knows that, in the end, the Father himself will vindicate him, glorifying him with death and resurrection so that, precisely when he is raised on the cross, he is revealed as the only begotten of God (cf. John 8:28; Mark 15:39).

Dear friends, meditating on this passage of the Gospel of John, the consideration arises spontaneously of how difficult it is to witness to Christ. And our thought goes to the beloved Servant of God Karol Wojtyla -- John Paul II -- who from his youth showed himself a bold and daring defender of Christ: He did not hesitate to consume all his energies in order to spread the light everywhere; he did not accept to give in to compromises when it was a question of proclaiming and defending [Christ's] truth; he never tired of spreading [Christ's] love. From the beginning of his pontificate until April 2, 2005, he was not afraid to proclaim to all and always that Jesus alone is the Savior and the true Liberator of man and of all men.

"I will make you exceedingly fruitful" (Genesis 17:6). If giving witness of one's adherence to the Gospel has never been easy, we are certainly comforted by the certainty that God makes our commitment fruitful, when it is sincere and generous. The spiritual experience of the Servant of God John Paul II also seems significant to us from this point of view. Looking at his life, we see realized in it the promise of fruitfulness made by God to Abraham, which is echoed in the first reading, taken from the Book of Genesis. It could be said that, especially in the years of his pontificate, he engendered many sons and daughters in the faith. You are visible signs of this, dear young people present this afternoon: you, young people of Rome and you, young people from Sydney and Madrid, who represent ideally the multitude of boys and girls who have participated in the by now 23 World Youth Days in different parts of the world. How many vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life, how many young families determined to live the evangelical ideal and to tend to holiness are united to the testimony and the preaching of my venerated Predecessor! How many boys and girls have been converted, or have persevered on their Christian path thanks to his prayer, his encouragement, his support and his example!

It is true! John Paul II was able to communicate a great amount of hope, founded on faith in Jesus Christ, who "is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8), as the motto of the Great Jubilee of 2000 stated. As affectionate father and attentive educator, he indicated sure and firm points of reference indispensable for all, in a special way for youth. And in the hour of agony and death, this new generation wished to manifest to him that it had understood his teachings, silently recollected in prayer in St. Peter's Square and in so many other places of the world. Young people felt that his disappearance constituted a loss: "Their" Pope was dying, whom they regarded as "their father" in the faith. They realized at the same time that he was leaving them as inheritance his courage and the consistency of his testimony. Had he not underlined many times the need for a radical adherence to the Gospel, exhorting adults and young people to take this common educational responsibility seriously? I have also wanted to take up this longing of his, pausing on different occasions to speak of the educational emergency that concerns families, the Church, society and especially the new generations today. In the age of growth, young people need adults capable of proposing their principles and values: They see the need for persons that are able to teach with their life, rather than with words, to spend themselves for lofty ideals.

But where can one get the light and wisdom to carry out this mission, which involves every one in the Church and in society? It is certainly not enough to take recourse to human resources; it is necessary to trust in the first place in divine help. "The Lord is faithful forever": This is how we prayed a while ago in the Responsorial Psalm, certain that God never abandons those who remain faithful to him. This reminds us of the theme of the 24th World Youth Day, which will be held at the diocesan level next Sunday. The theme is taken from St. Paul's first Letter to Timothy: "We have our hope set on the living God" (4:10). The Apostle speaks in the name of the Christian community, in the name of all those who have believed in Christ and are different from "others who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13), precisely because they hope, nourish confidence in the future, a confidence not based on ideas or human foresight, but on God, the "living God."

Dear young people, we cannot live without hope. Experience shows that every thing, and our own life, runs the risk, can collapse for any reason internal or external to us, at any moment. It is normal: Everything that is human, hence hope, has no foundation in itself, but needs a "rock" on which to anchor itself. This is why Paul wrote that Christians are called to base human hope on the "living God." He alone is sure and trustworthy. What is more, only God, who has revealed the fullness of his love in Jesus, can be our firm hope. In him, our hope, we have in fact been saved (cf. Romans 8:24).

However, pay attention: In times such as these, given the cultural and social context in which we live, the risk can be stronger of reducing Christian hope to an ideology, to a group slogan, to an exterior coating. There is nothing more contrary to Jesus' message! He does not want his disciples to "recite" a part of his teaching, perhaps that of hope. He wants them to "be" hope, and they can be so only if they remain united to him! He wants each one of you, dear young friends, to be a small source of hope for your neighbor, and to be, all together, an oasis of hope for the society in which you are inserted. Now, this is possible with one condition: That you live of him and in him, through prayer and the sacraments, as I have written you in this year's message. If Christ's words remain in us, we will be able to carry high the flame of that love that he has enkindled in the earth; we can carry high the flame of faith and hope, with which we advance toward him, while we await his glorious return at the end of time. It is the flame that Pope John Paul II has left us as inheritance. He has given it to me, as his Successor; and this afternoon I hand it over once again, in a special way, to you, young people of Rome, so that you continue to be morning watchmen, vigilant and joyful in this dawn of the third millennium. Respond generously to Christ's call! In particular, during the Priestly Year that will begin next June 19, make yourselves readily available if Jesus calls you to follow him on the path of priesthood and of consecrated life.

"This is the favorable moment, this is the day of salvation." Along with the Gospel, the liturgy has exhorted us to renew now -- and every instant is a "favorable moment" -- our determined will to follow Christ, certain that he is our salvation. Finally, this is the message that John Paul II repeats to us this afternoon. While we entrust his chosen soul to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom he always loved tenderly, we very much hope that from heaven he will not cease to accompany us and intercede for us. That he will help each one of us to live, as he did, repeating with full confidence day after day to God, through Mary, Totus tuus. Amen!


Relating to the Opposite Sex

Interview With Author of "Men and Women Are From Eden"

GAITHERSBURG, Maryland, FEB. 14, 2007 ( Mary Healy says she has the key to helping men and women in their relationships with each other.

Healy is the author of "Men and Women Are From Eden" (Servant Publications), a study guide to Pope John Paul II's theology of the body.

In this interview with ZENIT, she discusses getting to the root of the problems between the sexes, and from there, finding the most effective solutions.

Q: With so many books coming from the secular press on relationships and the differences between men and women, where does this book on the theology of the body fit in?

Healy: The topic of the differences of the sexes never gets old, because in every generation men and women experience the challenge of relating to one another. Yes, there is an avalanche of secular books offering relationship advice, some of it helpful and some less so -- and some that should be tossed in the trash!

But no advice really gets to the heart of the matter unless it goes all the way back to the beginning -- to God's original plan for man and woman, as it was unveiled in the garden of Eden, before the Fall.

And of course the only complete access we have to that original plan is through Scripture, authoritatively interpreted by the Church.

Pope John Paul the Great left the Church a great gift by presenting the biblical teaching on men, women, sex and marriage in a new and compelling way, in his catecheses known as the theology of the body.

The purpose of my book is to try to make the theology of the body accessible to ordinary people, and to give them a tool for studying it in-depth.

When people are introduced to the theology of the body, they usually find that it resonates with the deepest stirrings of their hearts and begins to transform their whole approach to relationships, from the inside out.

Q: The title seems to allude to the popular relationship book from the United States entitled "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Is your book a Catholic version of that best seller? What inspired the title?

Healy: Yes, you caught the hint. The title is inspired by John Paul II's insight -- based on the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4 -- that the key to understanding who we are as men and women is found in the book of Genesis, in the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.

As John Paul II noted, the creation accounts in Genesis are "mythic," not in the sense of being fictional, but in that they recount the events at the dawn of history using symbolic language so as to convey profound truths about God and the human condition.

Only by understanding those truths will we be able to fully appreciate our identity as men and women and fulfill our longings for authentic love.

Q: While much of what popular theories say about the differences between men and women is true, is there something lacking about how these theories view maleness and femaleness, and then the dynamics of relationships between the two?

Healy: The best that a secular approach can do is explain the biological, psychological and social reasons why men and women have trouble relating, and then offer practical advice for dealing with those differences. But as John Paul II shows, those differences are not merely accidental; they are part of God's marvelous design for humanity. In fact, they even hold the clue to the meaning of our existence.

Our sexual complementarity reveals what he called "the spousal meaning of the body" -- that is, the body's capacity, in its masculinity or femininity, to be a vehicle and expression of self-giving love. Adam and Eve discovered that when they encountered one another and, in the words of Genesis, became "one flesh."

So, God has stamped in our very bodies the call to a communion of persons, an exchange of love in which each person becomes a gift for the other.

But because of the Fall -- our first parents' decision to disobey God -- the complementarity that God designed for life-giving union became instead a source of conflict. Ever since then, relationships between men and women have often been characterized by lust, selfishness, manipulation and abuse.

So you can see why relationship advice remains on a very superficial level unless it gets to the root of the problem, which is sin, and the key to the solution, which is our restoration to God's magnificent plan through the grace of Christ. Once that key is found, then people begin to deal with the dynamics of relationships on a much more profound level.

Q: John Paul II explains that the response to the human being's quest for happiness is to be found in the Garden of Eden. Can you explain this?

Healy: As Pope John Paul II explains, the story of our origins presents a vision for why we were created and what is the deepest purpose of our lives.

According to Genesis, when God wanted an image of himself in the created world, he didn't fashion isolated individuals, but rather a married couple. This means that both are needed to complete the picture.

Why? Because it is their communion of love with one another that most reveals God! Only in the New Testament is the truth fully revealed that God himself is a communion of persons, an eternal exchange of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

And God has destined us to share in that exchange. This is the meaning of our sexual complementarity and of the vocations in which it is lived out, whether in marriage or in consecrated life.

By becoming a gift to one another in a communion of persons we learn to love and be loved as God loves, and so prepare to share in his life forever. This is our dignity and our destiny, and the quest for happiness depends on discovering it and living it out.

Q: Who is this book written for? Youth? Couples in crisis? Engaged couples? Can a beginner with no background in theology or philosophy understand it?

Healy: All of the above!

My book does not focus on practical advice, but rather on the doctrinal foundations people need to guide their practical decisions. It was written with the goal of helping ordinary people understand the theology of the body and apply it to their real-life situations.

John Paul II writes on a very theoretical level, but as a priest he had counseled hundreds of couples, and he well understood the issues people face. The theology of the body is not too abstract or difficult for anyone. It is true that those who try to put it into practice will find it very challenging on a personal level -- in fact, eventually they will find that it is simply impossible without the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Even solid Catholics may find that it causes a revolution in their whole perspective on sex, marriage and relationships. But that is part of the whole point, because the grace to change is there for anyone who asks.

Regarding youth in particular, I have taught theology of the body to teens and young adults, and I have found them in every case to be extremely receptive to and hungry for these teachings. This generation has reaped the bad fruits of the sexual revolution, and they see the fallout in broken families and broken lives all around them.

Many of them are not impressed by the false promises of the permissive culture they've grown up in. They are ready for something new. The theology of the body gives them hope and enables them to pursue their vocation, whether to marriage or celibacy, with a deep sense of purpose and vision.

Q: What impact do you hope the book will have on the Catholic world?

Healy: I hope my book will help many people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, discover the theology of the body and the dramatic impact it can have on their lives. In Europe and America, Christians do not have a very good track record for presenting a lifestyle different from the surrounding secular culture -- as shown by our statistics on divorce, abortion, contraception and premarital sex.

But that is beginning to change. I am convinced that as the theology of the body is embraced by the current generation, marriages will be strengthened, families will be healed, respect for human life will be renewed, and young people will be rekindled in their zeal to live for God.

At the Death of John Paul II
Excerpt From Book "A Life With Karol"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2007 ( Here is a translation of an excerpt from the book that recounts Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz's memories of his longtime collaboration with Pope John Paul II.

"A Life With Karol" is the title of the volume, written by journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, former deputy director of L'Osservatore Romano.

The volume was recently released in Italy and will be published by Doubleday for the English-speaking world. This excerpt is taken from Chapter 35.

* * *

It was 9:37 p.m. We realized that the Holy Father had stopped breathing; however, just in that moment we saw in the monitor that his great heart, after having beaten for some instants, had stopped. Dr. Buzzonetti bent over him and, raising his gaze slightly, mused: "He has passed to the House of the Lord." Someone stopped the hands of the clock at that hour.

We, as if deciding all together, began to sing the Te Deum, not the Requiem, because it wasn't mourning, but the Te Deum, in thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift he had given us, the gift of the person of the Holy Father, of Karol Wojtyla.

We wept. How could one not weep! They were, at once, tears of sorrow and joy. Then all the lights of the house were turned on. Darkness came over me, within me. I knew that it had happened, but it was as if, afterwards, I refused to accept it, or I refused to understand it. I placed myself in the Lord's hands, but as soon as I thought by heart was at peace, the darkness returned.

Until the moment of farewell arrived.

There were all those people, all the important people who had come from afar. But, above all, there were his people, his young people. There was a great light in St. Peter's Square, and then the light also returned within me.

The homily over, Cardinal Ratzinger made that reference to the window, and said that he was surely there, seeing us, blessing us. I also turned around, I could not but turn around, but I didn't look up there. At the end, when we reached the doors of the basilica, those who carried the coffin turned it slowly, as though enabling him to have one last look at the square, his final farewell to men, to the world.

Also his last farewell to me? No, not to me. At that moment, I wasn't thinking of myself. I lived that moment along with many others, and we were all shaken, distressed, but for me it was something I shall never be able to forget. Meanwhile, the cortege was entering the basilica; they were to take the coffin to the tomb.

Then, precisely at that moment, I began to think: I have accompanied him for almost 40 years, first 12 in Krakow, then 27 in Rome. I was always with him, by his side. Now, at the moment of death, he walked alone. And this fact, my not being able to accompany him, pained me much.

Yes, all this is true, but he has not left us. We feel his presence, and also so many graces obtained through him.


John Paul II on War in the Name of God
Excerpts From "A Life with Karol"

ROME, JAN. 26, 2007 ( Here is a translation of two excerpts from the book that recounts Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz's memories of his longtime collaboration with Pope John Paul II.

"A Life with Karol" is the title of the volume, written by journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, former deputy director of L'Osservatore Romano.

The volume was recently released in Italy, and will be published by Doubleday for the English-speaking world.

The two passages, which recount John Paul II's reaction to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the beginning of the Iraqi war in 2003, are taken from chapter 34: "To Kill in the Name of God?"

* * *

On Sept. 11, 2001, the Pope saw the collapse of the Twin Towers on television.

The Holy Father was in Castel Gandolfo. The telephone rang, and from the other side he heard the frightened voice of Cardinal Sodano, Vatican secretary of state. He requested that the television be turned on, and was able to see those dramatic images, the collapse of the towers and, within them, so many poor, imprisoned victims. He spent the rest of the afternoon between the chapel and the television, burdened with all his suffering.

The following day in the morning, the Pope celebrated Mass. Afterward, he held a special general audience in St. Peter's Square. I remember his words: "A dark day in the history of humanity." And I also remember that, before the prayer, the faithful were asked not to applaud, not to sing. It was a day of mourning.

He was worried, extremely worried, fearing that it would not end there; that the attack might unleash an endless spiral of violence. In part, because, from his point of view, the growth of the terrorist plague stemmed, among other reasons, from the state of acute poverty, the lack of possibilities of education and cultural development, which many Arab peoples were experiencing. Therefore, to defeat terrorism, it was necessary at the same time to eliminate the enormous social and economic inequalities between the North and South.

* * *

In March 2003, the Pope tried to avoid the second Gulf War.

Saturday, March 15. Along with Cardinal Sodano and Archbishop Tauran, the Holy Father received Cardinal Pio Laghi, on his return from the mission in the United States. And Laghi, despite the fact he still did not feel the battle was lost, recounted what he had told the U.S. president. Bush understood perfectly the Pope's moral reasons, but he could no longer turn back. He had given Saddam Hussein a 48-hour ultimatum.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Etchegaray had already given the answer, not too negative, but certainly ambiguous, of the Iraqi leaders: They were willing to collaborate with the United Nations inspectors, but were reluctant about the so-called "weapons of mass destruction."

By then everything was known that had to be known. Thus, from that meeting on March 15, came the text of the Angelus the following day, with an urgent and determined appeal both to Saddam Hussein as well as to the countries that made up the U.N. Security Council. And, on reading it from his window, the Holy Father wanted to support that last hope that spread across the paths of the world. On three occasions he repeated: "There still is room!" "It is never too late!"

However, all this, evidently, did not seem enough to him. He had intuited that the situation was about to precipitate, and that it was moving toward war, with the risk, moreover, that it might be transformed into a war of civilizations or, worse still, a "holy war."

Then he felt the need to say what was in his heart, to offer his personal testimony. He wished to remind that he belonged to the generation of those who had lived through the war and, therefore, also for that reason, he felt the duty to affirm: "Never again war!" I could see his profile, from where I was in the study, and his right hand which seemed to want to give still greater force to his words.


Exclusive from Poland: Who Was Spying on Karol Wojtyla

Names, reports, and documents from the network of informants who kept watch over the life of the great churchman, before and after his election as pope. From “L’espresso” no. 3, January 19-25, 2007

by Gigi Riva

“Wojdyla,” that’s how it’s written. In 1949, the future pope was a misspelled name in the reports sent to the secret police by a turncoat priest in the Krakow curia. But they would get to know him very well – and how to spell his name – over the next forty years, until the death of the regime, while his life was bugged, filmed, followed, and analyzed “24/7.” Day and night. Everywhere. In Poland, and in Rome. In the airports, and on the trains. It was an extensive network that involved, in an unbroken relay, dozens and dozens of agents, moles, priests, journalists, intellectuals, blue and white-collar workers, secretaries, administrators. They included acquaintances, neighbors, and even some friends who came with him to Italy.

This was already known, because it couldn’t have been otherwise. But now there is proof of the spider’s web spun around the seminarian, then the priest, then the bishop, then the cardinal, and then the pope, thanks to documents found among the 90 kilometers of papers in the Polish Institute of National Memory. This is the same institute that produced the dossier that forced the resignation, last January 7, of the newly named archbishop of Warsaw, archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus. Wielgus, 67, was forced out under charges of collaborating with the communist authorities. The institute’s documents have also led the Polish Church to dig into the past of all its prelates.

There is an inexplicable gap in the dossiers on Karol Wojtyla, and it concerns the assassination attempt by Ali Agca in 1981. Here there are only a few fragments of little interest. The historian Andrzej Friszke maintains it is likely that “the Polish [secret] services kept clear of it, because it would have been too risky for them.” And if in that forest of documents there isn’t even a detailed account of the event, he recommends that one “seek this out in Moscow.”

His colleague, the historian Andrzej Paczkowski, who has had a seat on the board of the Institute of National Memory for six years, recalls that many documents concerning the Church were deliberately destroyed. But he adds a qualifier: “The archives were merged in 2000. It took us three years just to get everything organized. Scholars have now been working on them for another three. It will take a long time just to read everything.”

There’s no lack of surprises. Many would like to discover the identity of “Seneka,” an agent active in both Krakow and Rome, someone very close to the pope. Was he a philosopher? It is clear that interest was concentrated from the very beginning upon the curious name “Wojtyla.” Now the whole world, and not just Poland, knows how to say the name “Wojtyla.” But back then, just after the war, it was a cipher that could lead to an error, that could be turned to “Wojdyla.” And that’s where our story begins.

Krakow, November 17, 1949. The mole, using the code name “Zagielowski” (but who also used the name “Torano” and in the future would give his real signature), sent the police a “top secret” report on a meeting in the curia during which this “Wojdyla” was pointed out as someone to keep an eye on.

“Zagielowski” was recruited in 1948 and would be active until his death in 1967. His age would remember him by his real name, Wladyslaw Kulczycki. Father Kulczycki. He had been interned in a Nazi concentration camp, and it was for this reason that he was viewed as more approachable: he had seen of what evil man was capable. Besides, he had a sin that compromised his priestly character – a sexual weakness. In 1953 a note from Department IV of the interior ministry, the one charged with watching over the Church, gave this assessment of him: “His evaluation is good. He is the only one working in Krakow who can be approached.” He was the pastor at Saint Nicholas, and was the friend – and perhaps even the confessor - of the legendary cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (in the photo, with Wojtyla). He showed bitter enmity against young Karol from Wadowice. Kulczycki couldn’t explain how he climbed the ecclesiastical ranks so easily. A document written in 1960 contains this outburst: “I don’t understand why Wojtyla is chosen for all the important tasks. The man is well educated, he knows the communists, he has ties among the workers, and he frequently organizes pastoral visits to Nowa Huta.”

The infiltrators didn’t know each other. That’s how things worked, whatever the location. And who knows how many times Fr. Kulczycki met at the chancery with another key pawn for the regime: Tadeusz Nowak, the treasurer for the curia, who was also the administrator of “Tygodnik Powszechny,” the Catholic weekly dear to the future John Paul II.

Nowak was “active” from 1955 to 1982, with a nickname he had chosen himself: “Ares,” the Greek god of war. Those who knew him can’t hide their amazement. What? A spy was hiding behind that festive fellow with the wagging tongue that was prone to joking? Yes, precisely. And not a common spy in terms of his role and contacts. His confidences were collected directly by the official Jozef Schiller, a man whose professionalism would be admirable if it hadn’t been put at the service of an ignoble cause. His recruiting methods were so refined, and the network he built was so effective, that he made for himself a brilliant career in the dark night of totalitarianism. After Krakow, he would become director of the fourth department.

Schiller was the link between Nowak and Ares. And the treasurer of “Tygodnik Powszechny,” composing on typewriter, diligently recounted how much money the curia had, who complained about the taxes imposed by the central government – and how indignantly. Then, in public, he appeared at Wojtyla’s side with the absurd bauble he was authorized to wear after receiving the medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, given to him by Paul VI – the highest honorary then bestowed in Poland by the Church of Rome after the second world war.

The ceremony for the conferral of the medal (April 17, 1965) was described in a meticulous note (that also related Nowak’s great emotion) by the agent “Erski” or “Pantera.” This was none other than the distributor of the Catholic newspaper, Waclaw Debski. He had been a radical opponent of communism and had been given a life sentence for this, but was freed after 1956 and the end of Stalinism. He was recruited, and for twenty years he regularly received payment that amounted, at the time, to a salary. This generosity was justified by the quality of the services he rendered: he not only watched the Catholics in the editorial offices, he also used his free access to bug the offices and gave the office keys to his superiors in his second job so that they could carry out secret nighttime searches.

Ares and Erski were the recipients of a “tajne” (secret) document drafted in Krakow on October 9, 1969, probably with the help of a psychologist. Karol Wojtyla had already become a cardinal, and a few months earlier he had challenged the regime by laying the first stone for a church to be built in Nowa Huta. It was very clear how dangerous he was, so everything about him had to be known. The document is made up of two questionnaires (see below) now kept at the Institute of National Memory and classified with the code Kr 08/141, t, l, k. 588-591 e Kr 08/141, t, l, k. 592-594. The spies had to reply to nine pages of questions about Wojtyla’s habits, even the most apparently insignificant ones (Does he wear glasses? Sunglasses? What kind?), and about his personality: Is he analytic, synthetic, objective, subjective, creative? Is he an idealist? Does he love to take risks? For now, the replies to the questionnaires have not been found, but they would be valuable above all for understanding the obsessions of the police. Because of the intimate nature of the information sought, they certainly must have been delivered to close collaborators, even friends. To priests, even.

Michael Jagosz, a canon at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome and head of the historical commission for the cause of beatification for John Paul II, has already tried to dismiss the suspicions circulating around him: “They also tried to get me. I was contacted, but I never gave any information.” This is disproved by the work of historian Marek Lasota, author of the book “Donos na Wojtyle” (The Denunciation of Wojtyla), a tireless researcher on the relationships between the secret services and Catholic circles in Krakow. Lasota affirms, kindly but firmly: “Jagosz was recruited in what I would call a dramatic situation during the 1970’s. He began to collaborate, and then he broke off all ties at the beginning of the ‘80’s, when he went to Rome.” Lasota doesn’t want to explain what the “dramatic situation” was. In general (though not necessarily in this case), the historian Paczkowski points out, there were three “weaknesses” through which priests could be blackmailed: “Sex, money, and alcohol.”

Who knows what convinced Mieczyslaw Malinski, who went to the seminary with the pope and became his friend and first biographer, to become agent “Delta” and to meet frequently with Captain Podolski. Fr. Konrad Hejmo, who organizes trips from Poland to the Vatican, also defends his innocence and admits only that there were attempts to recruit him. But he’s nailed by 20 receipts released by the fourth department of the interior ministry, in addition to a dossier that, according to historian Jan Zaryn, numbers “about 700 pages.” Fr. Hejmo had at least three nicknames: “Hejnal,” “Wolf,” and “Dominican” (he belongs to that order). And he reported to at least as many others. In the middle of the 1970’s, when he was working for the monthly “On the March,” he met with police functionary Waclaw Glowacki. In Rome, he saw both a person nicknamed “Peter,” a functionary at the Polish embassy, and “Lacar,” an agent who worked for both Warsaw and the East Germans.

The scandal that exploded with archbishop Wielgus convinced another priest to resign: Janusz Bielanski, pastor of the cathedral of Wawel and a friend of Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was secretary to John Paul II and is now the cardinal archbishop of Krakow. It was also natural that Dziwisz’s entourage would have been infiltrated. It is estimated that 2,600 priests were collaborating with the communist government by the end of the 1970’s – that’s around 15 percent of the clergy in Poland. The curia of Krakow was truly a crossroads for spies, whether in clerical garb or not.

The deputy for the business manager of “Tygodnik Powszechny,” Nowak, was named Antoni Ocheduszko, codenamed “Orski.” He had been a secret agent in the 1920’s, and was then persecuted during the Stalinist period. He was perfectly cut out for blackmail. He was elderly, suffered from heart problems, and was popular with the young. It seems that he was rather careful never to divulge anything that could harm anyone. He often pretended to be sick in order to avoid meeting with the person sent to interrogate him. When he simply couldn’t avoid it, he talked about what the priests or journalists ate.

“Rumun,” who was Stefan Papp, the technology editor for “Tygodnik Powszechny,” had disgrace written into his name: his father was a German of Hungarian origin who lived in Romania. The cosmopolitan character of his family brought him into suspicion. Furthermore – who knows how? – his “guardian angels” had learned that he wasn’t a believer. So he had two “faults,” and the sense that these were sins to be expiated. But how? By revealing the reactions to certain public news items inside the newspaper offices.

And then there was “Blade,” Jozef Wilga, who had come from the countryside with the desire to become part of the intelligentsia in Krakow. He had failed a minor examination at university, and so he wasn’t able to embark upon the career as a judge that he had dreamed about so much. The shifty, smooth-talking Schiller dangled in front of him the possibility of an intervention with the tribunal so that he could obtain permission to continue his studies. And in exchange, Blade wrote reports on the members of the clubs of Catholic intellectuals, describing their meetings, detailing the personal conflicts, and relating what each one thought about Wladyslaw Gomulka, the party head at the time, and about the party itself.

One of Schiller’s masterpieces was the recruitment of Sabina Kaczmarska, agent “Jesion,” also called “Samotna,” meaning “alone.” She was unmarried and homely, and corrected drafts at the newspaper while dreaming of becoming the editor. Schiller flattered her: Write a report for us on the edition about to be published, a real review; we’re so interested in your opinion, and you’re so very capable. The hapless woman responded. “A report” became a collaboration lasting 12 years. And “Jesion” was used, as one document reveals, in part to influence the foreign reporters who came through Krakow. She is now almost 80, and the dream of being an editor is gone.

Roman Gracyk, author of the book “Tropem SB”, or “On the Trail of the SB” (an acronym for Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, the secret service), and one of the supporters of the need for “lustracja,” or shedding light on the dossiers, admits that he felt a certain “human pity” in studying certain cases. Here human pity does not mean absolution. Not even now that we know how the story ended, with Wojtyla at St. Peter’s and communism defeated. Because even during those difficult times, it was possible to rebel. This is shown by the many documents in the archives about those who refused to collaborate.


Two questionnaires, 97 questions

Karol Wojtyla was a genuine obsession for the Polish secret services, beginning in the late 1960’s. They wanted to know everything about him: about his opinions, habits, hobbies, state of health, and family. And two documents found in the archives of the Institute of National Memory are particularly chilling.

The first, which is more generic, bears the date of October 9, 1969, and is classified as “secret.” It is signed by “Boguslawski, deputy head of Department IV at Krakow headquarters,” and contains a list of questions that must be answered by the spies following Wojtyla. They include questions about his intellectual capacity, courage, and fidelity to the Church; about his attitude toward the Vatican and the “socialist reality” of Poland. Typical bureaucratic stuff.

But a second document, bearing no date but also concerning Wojtyla, is truly maniacal. It contains 97 questions for the spies shadowing the man who was by then a cardinal.

The first question: “What time does he get up on weekdays and on Sunday?” The second: “What does he do after he gets up, and in what order?” The third: “How often does he shave, and with what implements?” The fourth: “What are the toiletries that he uses?”

This continues in the section “Daily life” with police curiosities such as: “What does he do before starting work?”, “What time does he eat lunch?”, “Does he play bridge, cards, chess?” There’s no lack of questions about alcohol: “What kind?”, “How much?”, “When?” The secret services also wanted to know where Wojtyla kept the keys to his house and office, and who did his laundry.

Another section asks about his “interests in audiovisual media.” They wanted to know what kind of radio Wojtyla had, and whether he also owned a television set. They asked if he went to concerts, if he liked lyric opera. There are questions about the kind of music the future pope liked, what newspapers he read and which sections interested him. There was no lack of curiosity about his habit of listening to Western radio stations, and whether and with whom he “[talked] about politics.”

The health of the future pope certainly did not escape the secret services: they wanted to know, apart from general matters, who was his dentist, whether he wore glasses, and what medicines he kept at home. They also wanted to know if he collected stamps, if he enjoyed taking photographs, and whether he knew how to type. It was important to know how many suitcases Wojtyla had and what kind, and how he dressed for winter and summer sports.

His family was also an object of inquiry: “conflicts, inheritances, material help.” Finally, the police wanted to discover who his “most intimate” friends were, and who were the advisers to Cardinal Wojtyla.

Such a tremendous waste of money, energy, and human resources. Because, in the end, Wojtyla won, and communism lost.


 Wojtyla's Walk Among the Philosophers  By George Weigel   Posted: Monday, December 4, 2006


Publication Date: December 1, 2006

**On December 1, EPPC Senior Fellow George Weigel delivered the keynote address at a Duquesne University conference exploring "The Phenomenology of John Paul II." Weigel's address follows.**

Karol J?zef Wojtyla was a singular man: an intellectual with a deep respect for popular piety; a mystic who was an active sportsmen for decades; a celibate who wrote with great insight about human sexuality; a priest and bishop who marveled for decades at the gift of his priesthood and episcopate -- and whose closest and oldest friends included lay men and women he had first met when they were university students. An orphan before he reached his majority, he nevertheless came to embody paternity for millions of people in a world bereft of fatherhood. John Paul II was the most visible man in human history, and some two billion people participated, in one way or another, in his funeral; yet he had a deeply ingrained sense of privacy and his most intense experiences were ones he couldn't describe, for they took place in a dialogue with God that was, literally, beyond words.

His singularity extended to Karol Wojtyla's life among the philosophers. He never took an undergraduate or graduate course in philosophy. He never taught as a full-time faculty member in a department of philosophy and never held a rank higher than docent, the lowest on the Polish academic ladder. His philosophical masterwork remained unfinished. Yet this autodidact philosopher, who liked (as he put it) to do philosophy from the standpoint of Adam, seeing the world afresh, drew the professional respect of Thomists and phenomenologists, Catholics and agnostics, classicists, medievalists, moderns, and perhaps even a few post-moderns. Wojtyla's philosophical convictions also had a profound impact on the history of our times -- "solidarity," for Wojtyla, was a way of understanding authentic human being-in-the-world before it was a banner erected in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk. Marx famously remarked that, while philosophers analyzed the world, he intended to change it; Karol Wojtyla did both, and the changes he helped advance were the embodiment in history of the understandings he had achieved -- as those understandings reflected the Truth which had seized his life and his imagination.

As I am not a professional philosopher, I cannot bring a specialist's perspective to the work of this conference. But perhaps I can bring something else of use -- a biographer's perspective that locates Karol Wojtyla's philosophical work within the broader context of his singular life. Before he came to the world's attention, Wojtyla had hammered out his philosophy on the anvil of his experience as a man, a priest, and a Pole -- and did so at a time, and in a place, where the stakes were high indeed. Revisiting that time and place may help us understand something of Wojtyla's earlier experiences among the philosophers, which will then help us understand his walk among the philosophers as the Bishop of Rome.

Things As They Are

In an extended interview with the French journalist Andr? Frossard, John Paul II confessed, perhaps a littler sheepishly, that his first encounter with philosophy had been an unpleasant one. In 1942, Karol Wojtyla had been accepted into the clandestine seminary being run by Archbishop Adam Stefan Sapieha of Krak?w. As part of its comprehensive assault on Polish intellectual and cultural life, the Nazi Occupation had shut down the archdiocesan seminary, which Sapieha then reconstituted on a clandestine basis. Seminarians like Wojtyla continued their jobs while coming to the archbishop's residence to serve Mass, receive spiritual direction, and get academic assignments: books were assigned, with exams to follow on a future visit to Sapieha's residence. Early in this process, Wojtyla was told to read and learn Kazimierz Wais's text, Metaphysics, a 1926 tome written in the arid formulas of one style of early twentieth century neo-scholasticism. Wojtyla was flummoxed. He was a literary man, who had read widely and deeply in poetry, fiction, drama, and history, but he had never encountered anything like Wais. His later description of the experience to Andr? Frossard is worth a quote:

"My literary training, centered around the humanities, had not prepared me at all for the scholastic theses and formulas with which the manual [Wais?s book] was filled. I had to cut a path through a thick undergrowth of concepts, analyses, and axioms without even being able to identity the ground over which I was moving. After two months of hacking through this vegetation I came to a clearing, to the discovery of the deep reasons for what until then I had only lived and felt. When I passed the examination I told my examiner that...the new vision of the world which I had acquired in my struggle with that metaphysics manual was more valuable than the mark which I had obtained. I was not exaggerating. What intuition and sensibility had until then taught me about the world found solid confirmation."

It was an important moment in Wojtyla's life among the philosophers. For all the suffering he inflicted, Wais gave Wojtyla an intellectual inoculation that lasted a lifetime: an inoculation against radical skepticism about the human capacity to know the truth of anything. In dungarees splattered by watery lime at the Solvay chemical factory where he worked, Wojtyla discovered what he would later call a "new world of existence" in the dusty propositions of Wais's Metaphysics: an intellectual universe built around the central Aristotelian-Thomistic conviction that the world is, in fact, intelligible. That conviction stuck with him to the end, and it profoundly shaped his way of doing philosophy. The agonies of the war and a life already filled with suffering had given young Karol Wojtyla a sharp, even harsh, experience of reality. Those nights slogging through Wais's Metaphysics gave the nascent philosopher the first building blocks for what would become a philosophical position that was proof against epistemological skepticism and its cousins, moral relativism and metaphysical boredom.

After priestly ordination in 1946, two years of graduate study in Rome, and a few months in a rural parish, Father Karol Wojtyla's first extended assignment was at St. Florian's Church, near Krak?w?s Old Town. The parish was a traditional magnet for the Cracovian Catholic intelligentsia; Archbishop Sapieha sent Wojtyla there to launch a second chaplaincy to university students. At St. Florian's, Wojtyla organized study groups that read Thomas Aquinas in the original and explored basic philosophical issues of apologetics -- an urgent matter in a country choking intellectually on the cultural smog of late Stalinism. Ski trips and other outings became an occasion for the young priest to get his student-friends thinking philosophically. Almost a half-century later, Jerzy Janik, who later became a distinguished nuclear physicist but who had never studied metaphysics, remembered being fascinated in the late 1940s by Father Wojtyla's "way of thinking, in which one could speak coherently and in a connected way about everything," from their ski poles to God. (Others, perhaps not so speculatively inclined, remember young Father Wojtyla's sermons as being rather philosophically dense, a trait from which he liberated himself after some useful criticism from his lay friends.) In an environment of communist mendacity in which truth was a function of power, Wojtyla's fledgling efforts as a philosophical tutor, however dense and challenging, were received by his young parishioners and friends as an intellectual liberation.

That Wojtyla was not entirely satisfied with the neo-scholasticism in which he had been trained was evident, however, from the criticism his first doctoral dissertation had received from Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., his dissertation director at Rome's "Angelicum." Garrigou-Lagrange, the master of mid-century neo-scholasticism, was unhappy that Wojtyla, writing about the concept of faith in St. John of the Cross, did not refer to God as the "Divine Object" ? and docked his grade accordingly. One assumes that this point had been discussed between director and student; and, judging from the result, the conversation didn't persuade Wojtyla. He remained a Thomistic realist; but he seems to have been looking for a different method to get at the truth of things.

Encountering Max Scheler

His opportunity to do just that, in a more concentrated way, came when Cardinal Sapieha's successor, Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak, ordered him to leave the student chaplaincy at St. Florian's in order to write his Habilitationsschrift, which would qualify him to teach at the university level. Wojtyla decided to write on the German phenomenologist Max Scheler, an associate of Edmund Husserl in the original phenomenological school that included Roman Ingarden, Edith Stein, and Dietrich von Hildebrand.

Why was Wojtyla attracted to Scheler, a mercurial character and difficult thinker, whose work he had to translate from German into Polish? Perhaps it was because of phenomenology's intention to see the world whole and thus arrive at a realistic analysis of things-as-they-are. Specifically, Wojtyla wanted to see if Scheler could help Catholic philosophers provide a secure philosophical ground for Christian ethics. This attraction to a modern philosophical method like phenomenology was not, I should add, a matter of conducting a frontal assault against the neo-scholasticism he had been taught; Wojtyla had no interest in pursuing a war of attrition against the entrenched, semi-official Catholic philosophical method of the time. If certain forms of neo-scholasticism were a barrier to an encounter with modern philosophy, Wojtyla simply went around them, having gratefully absorbed what seemed to him enduring about the neo-scholastic approach: its conviction that philosophy could get to the truth of things-as-they-are. On the basis of that conviction, he was prepared to encounter other philosophical systems on their own terms, and would later recall that wrestling with the second categorical imperative of Immanuel Kant had been "particularly important" for his later thinking. (That this was, in fact, wrestling was neatly illustrated one night after dinner, when John Paul II rolled his eyes and groaned, "Kant! Mein Gott! Kant!").

His experience as a pastor, a confessor, a teacher, and a writer had given Wojtyla what we might call a "natural phenomenologist?s" intuition, which certainly helped him in his analysis of Scheler. He appreciated Scheler's personalism, which seemed to him to rescue ethics from Kantian abstraction and to restore the pathos, the tragedy, and indeed the ethos to the human condition. Wojtyla also appreciated Scheler's defense of moral intuition and his analysis of moral sentiments like empathy and sympathy, which helped break philosophy out of the prison of epistemological solipsism. Above all, Wojtyla appreciated Scheler's effort to analyze the realities of moral choosing, which struck him as a more satisfactory approach to the foundations of ethics than a formal, abstract system like Kant's. But could Scheler do for contemporary Christian philosophy and theology what Aristotle had done for Aquinas?

Wojtyla's basic answer was "No." For Wojtyla, moral acts are real: the acts of real persons, which have real consequences. Scheler, in his view, had not grasped how moral choices actually shape a life. So Wojtyla judged that, in Scheler's ethics, morality remained "outside" the human world. Wojtyla was also critical of Scheler's tendency to overstress the emotional aspects of experience and knowing, which he thought led to a truncated view of the human person. Here, as in his critique of Scheler's analysis of moral choices, Wojtyla-the-philosopher was influenced by his pastoral experience -- he knew that the young men and women he had helped guide through their own moral difficulties were not simply composites of their various emotional states.

Nonetheless, Wojtyla came away fom the Scheler dissertation convinced that phenomenology was an important philosophical instrument for probing the human condition. Phenomenological inquiry had to be grounded, however, in a resolutely realistic general theory of things-as-they-are. That was the path he intended to explore in his own future philosophical work, and the result would be what Wojtyla would later call a way of doing philosophy that "synthesized both approaches:" the metaphysical realism of Aristole and Aquinas and the human sensitivity of Schelerian phenomenology. And for Wojtyla, this philosophical modus operandi was an intellectual conviction with consequences. If men and women could not know good and evil, if moral choices were only matters of personal preference, then all choices were, ultimately, indifferent. That, he believed, would empty human freedom of its drama and deprive men and women of their most distinctively human quality: the capacity to know the good and to choose it freely.

If Wojtyla's habilitation was his first sustained effort to marry the realist objectivity he had learned from Thomism to the subjectivity of modern philosophy, it would not be his last such effort. Thus the Scheler dissertation previewed the philosopher and theologian who would later write about love and responsibility, freedom and self-denial, democracy and a vibrant public moral culture, the free economy and solidarity. Wojtyla's instinct for synthesis was, to be sure, a sign of contradiction in the late modern and post-modern intellectual and philosophical worlds, and in North Atlantic high culture in general. One might see in that instinct, however, both a Christian sensibility and a reverence for the wisdom of the past. Jesus tells his disciples, after the multiplication of loaves and fish, "Gather up the fragments, that nothing may be lost" [John 6.12]. Karol Wojtyla's pastoral experience had taught him that fragments of a life could be gathered into a whole; his philosophical instinct was to reconnect fragmented human understandings. That, he believed, was the best way to account for the complexities of the human drama while remaining in conversation with the great minds who had laid the intellectual foundations of western civilization. He was most intensely engaged in that conversation during his years of teaching at the Catholic University of Lublin, a school almost unknown outside Poland, where large ideas were being explored.

The Lublin Philosophers and Their Project

The Catholic University of Lublin [KUL] was founded in 1918. Curiously, one of its midwives was Lenin, who allowed Father Idzi Radziszewski to take the library of Petrograd's Polish Academy of Theology back to Poland when the priest was trying to get KUL launched. Chartered by the interwar Second Polish Republic, the university was shut down by the German Occupation, with numerous professors imprisoned, tortured, or killed outright. Its state charter permitted KUL to survive the imposition of Stalinism in Poland after the war, and KUL became the only Catholic university behind the iron curtain, a distinction it maintained throughout the Cold War. As one of its senior scholars put it, the Catholic University of Lublin during the Cold War was "the only place between Berlin and [South Korea] where philosophy was free."

Its faculty and students pursued the academic life in a situation of constant confrontation with the communist regime. Between 1953 and 1956, the faculties of law, social science, and education were shut down. Even after the political thaw of 1956, the student population was kept artificially low, KUL graduates found it difficult to obtain academic positions elsewhere, and KUL faculty had trouble publishing their work. These pressures helped turn KUL into a university with a vocation. At a time when many influential figures in European intellectual life were flirting with Marxism (and sometimes more-than-flirting), KUL defended the unique dignity of the human person against an aggressive ideological opponent while demonstrating that Catholic faith and human reason were allies in the mission of reconstituting western humanism.

KUL's Faculty of Philosophy was established in 1946 in response to the great hunger for philosophy evident throughout Polish intellectual life. The war and the Nazi attempt to decapitate Polish culture had created a distinctive intellectual situation in Poland. In the immediate post-war period, philosophy lectures at Krak?w?s reopened Jagiellonian University were delivered to overflow audiences. In Lublin, lectures in metaphysics were standing-room-only, with students sitting on the floors, in the aisles, and on the window sills of the lecture hall. There, they heard different members of the KUL faculty explore the philosophical issues posed by the hard experiences of the immediate past and the present -- life under Nazi occupation and in Stalinist Poland.

Everyone who had lived through the brutalities of the Occupation and the imposition of communism had confronted the ancient philosophical question, "What is a human being?" in urgent, unavoidable ways. Why had some people acted like beasts while others had shown remarkable heroism? Why were some people grotesquely self-serving, to the point of betraying their friends, while others were nobly self-sacrificing, laying down their lives for others they may have known only slightly? The only way to get at these problems, the KUL philosophers agreed, was through a deepening of philosophical anthropology. How is that curious blend of matter and spirit, the human person, constituted ? How are we to explain the difference in kind between human beings and other sentient creatures? What, if anything, is the point or goal of life? These hardy perennials in the garden of philosophical inquiry took on an especially sharp edge at KUL in the late 1940s and the early 1950s.

Convinced that a crisis in modernity's understanding of the human person lay at the root of the century's distress, the KUL philosophers of that period began to sketch out an ambitious philosophical initiative, in which metaphysics and anthropology would meet in ethics. As a sub-discipline of philosophy, ethics may once have been a handmaiden to other, grander specialties, but the KUL philosophers believed that the problem of ethics posed itself in a particularly urgent way because of the political situation. Communism was not only a matter of bad metaphysics (with its reductionistic account of things-as-they-are) and bad anthropology (with its caricature of humanism); communism's totalitarian politics stripped men and women of their power of choice, of responsibility, and thus of their humanity.

The counter to both communist materialism and communist politics, the KUL philosophers thought, was a more complete humanism that gave a more compelling account of human moral intuitions and human moral action. In proposing to do this without falling into the quicksand of thinking about thinking about thinking, the KUL philosophers set themselves no small task. Indeed, it involved nothing less than challenging the entire direction of philosophy since the Enlightenment. Moreover, it was a project with a distinctive edge, for the KUL philosophers proposed to fight the great political-philosophical battle on Marxism's own ground -- the question of the true liberation of the human person.

The KUL project was defined by a quartet of relatively young men who, in a nice piece of irony, had become professors at KUL because Poland's Stalinist rulers had expelled the older teachers: Jerzy Kalinowski (a specialist in logic and the philosophy of law); Stefan Swiezawski (a historian of philosophy and follower of Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson); Father Mieczyslaw Albert Krapiec, O.P. (a Dominican specialist in metaphysics); and Father Karol Wojtyla. This quartet was subsequently amplified by Fathers Marian Kurdzialek (who specialized in ancient philosophy) and Stanislaw Kaminski (a specialist in epistemology). The Lublin philosophers were different personalities with divergent interests and academic specialities. They nonetheless achieved what Professor Swiezawski later called a "rare and exceptionally fruitful collaboration," built around four agreements which were crucial to Karol Wojtyla's philosophical project.

They began with an ancient conviction -- they would be radically realistic about the world and about the human capacity to know it. If our thinking and choosing lacks a tether to reality, the KUL philosophers believed, raw force takes over the world and truth becomes a function of power, not an expression of things-as-they-are. A communist-era joke in Poland expressed this realist imperative in a way that everyone could grasp: "Party boss: ?How much is 2+2?? Polish worker: ?How much would you like it to be??" (The "political" meaning of the realist assumption of the KUL philosophers was later expressed in the famous Solidarity election poster that read, "For Poland to be Poland, 2+2 must always = 4.") Human beings can only be free in the truth, and the measure of truth is reality.

The KUL philosophers also agreed on a modern starting-point for philosophical inquiry: they would begin with a disciplined reflection on the human person and on human experience rather than with cosmology. The stakes were high here. If philosophy could get to the truth of things-as-they-are through an analysis of human experience, then the path to a reconciliation between Catholic philosophy and the scientific method could be opened while, concurrently, modernity would be pulled loose from the quicksand pits of thinking-about-thinking-about-thinking. Adopting this starting-point was also important in the confrontation with Marxism. There, the serious questions did not involve who understood physics better, but certain very basic issues: What is the human vocation? How do we build history? Is history best understood in material and political terms, or does history have a transcendent dimension?

The KUL philosophers also shared a profound commitment to reason. Others may have had the cultural, economic, and political freedom to speculate about the alleged absurdity of life. The KUL philosophers, veterans of the cultural resistance against Nazism, had no such luxury. They had lived through a brutal Nazi occupation and thus knew what irrationalism could do if it got loose in history with sufficient material force. But the KUL philosophers' commitment to the method of reason was coupled with a determination to illuminate the good, and the human capacity to know and choose the good, so that men and women might, in fact, choose the good.

Finally, the KUL philosophers agreed to practice an ecumenism of time. If they refused to be imprisoned inside their own consciousness, they also declined to be slaves to the contemporary. They believed that the history of philosophy had things to teach the present, that the past had not been made completely disposable by modernity.

These were men whose vocational conviction that ideas were not intellectuals' toys had been amply confirmed by hard experience. Ideas had consequences, for good and for ill. Defective understandings of the human person, human community, and human destiny were responsible for mountains of corpses and oceans of blood in the first half of the twentieth century. If philosophy could help the world get a firmer purchase on the truth of the human condition, in a way that was both distinctively modern and grounded in the great philosophical tradition of the West, the future might be different.

The KUL philosophers were a community of personal and intellectual friendship and that great rarity in academic life, a genuine team. Once he had been granted a faculty position at KUL in 1954, Karol Wojtyla commuted from Krak?w to Lublin every two weeks. And on virtually every one of those trips over the next seven years, Wojtyla and his colleagues met as a group to talk through the common project in which they were engaged, in a gathering of equals who, as John Paul II later recalled, found it a "great advantage" to learn from each other's distinctive perspective and current work.

At the same time there were real arguments and intellectual differences among the KUL philosophers, some of whom (like Father Krapiec) had combative personalities. Karol Wojtyla's continuing interest in phenomenology and his ongoing investigation of modern and contemporary philosophy raised eyebrows among some of his more traditional colleagues, as did his philosophical and professorial style. He had a generally "unfootnoted" way of doing philosophy: -- he did philosophy "like a peasant," his premier student later noted -- and he was far more concerned with mapping the terrain of things-as-they-are than with providing an extensive academic apparatus of citations and cross-references for every proposal or assertion. Father Wojtyla was also singularly free of that professorial gravitas usually associated with senior academics in European universities.

To say that the KUL philosophy faculty had its disagreements and, in some respects, its rivalries is simply to say that it was a faculty of men, not angels. The important thing about the KUL philosophers was the boldness of their intention. They conceived their project in part as a response to the peculiar circumstances of their time and place, and in part as a response to the general cultural conditions of the mid-twentieth century. The range of its reach and its capacity to shed light on the human condition in very different situations would only come into focus when Professor Dr. Karol Wojtyla, by then working under a different name, took the most adventurous part of the Lublin project to an audience whose numbers vastly exceeded the readership of Polish philosophical journals.

At the Foundations of Freedom

Karol Wojtyla succeeded Fr. Feliks Bednarski, O.P., in the Chair of Ethics at Lublin in 1957 and remained an active faculty member of the university until his election to the papacy in 1978; during his first months as pope, he continued to serve as a reader of KUL doctoral dissertations, and he retained the Chair of Ethics at KUL for some years before ceding it to his prot?g? and friend, Fr. Tadeusz Styczen, S.D.S. Wojtyla's most intense involvement at KUL took place between 1954 and 1961, after which his pastoral responsibilities in Krak?w made it impossible for him to commute to Lublin any longer; for the next seventeen years, his doctoral seminar came to Krak?w for two-day work periods at the archbishop?s residence. From 1954 to 1961, and in addition to teaching the basic undergraduate ethics course and directing his doctoral students, Wojtyla gave a series of graduate lectures. The 1954-55 lectures, on "Act and Experience," explored the philosophical ethics of Scheler, Kant, and Aquinas. The 1955-56 lectures were on the subject "Goodness and Value," and involved an extensive dialogue with Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Kant, and Scheler. Perhaps anticipating a set of problems that would emerge in a post-communist world, Wojtyla dedicated his 1956-1957 lectures to Hume and Bentham under the rubric "Norm and Happiness." His 1957-1958 and 1958-1959 lectures focused on sexual ethics, and eventually led to his first book, Love and Responsibility. In 1960-1961, Wojtyla gave his last graduate lectures at KUL on the "Theory and Methodology of Ethics." One might hope that these "monographic lectures," as they're known in Poland, might some day be available in English; it would be fascinating to enter into Wojtyla's dialogue with philosophical ethicists representing a wide range of methods and judgments.

From 1962, when he was elected Vicar Capitular of Krak?w on the death of Archbishop Baziak, until his translation to Rome in 1978, Karol Wojtyla's energies were increasingly absorbed by pastoral responsibilities in Krak?w and by his expanding role in the world Church. He did what he could to continue his walk among the philosophers, directing his doctoral seminar from (and in) his residence at Franciszka_ska 3 in Krakow?s Old Town, where he also hosted evening philosophical seminars where a wide variety of philosophical schools were represented. As circumstances (rarely) permitted, he lectured abroad, including a well-received visit to the Harvard Summer School in 1969; his intervention at the international Thomistic Congress at Fossanuova in 1974 so impressed Josef Pieper that the venerable German philosopher immediately got in touch with Professor Joseph Ratzinger at Regensburg, urging him to read Wojtyla's work. Moreover, it was during this period of intense pastoral activity that Wojtyla attempted his philosophical masterwork, Osoba y Czyn [Person and Act].

I say "attempted," because Person and Act is part of the unfinished symphony of Karol Wojtyla's philosophical project. He never produced a revised and completed version in Polish, although a third edition edited by his principal students and collaborators is available. The extant translations in other European languages are of varying quality. The currently available English translation is not trustworthy, for it bends the entire work in a direction that does not do justice to the author's intent to maintain the tension between subjectivity ("person") and objectivity ("act") that was a hallmark of his thinking. All of that being said, however, Person and Act is the closest thing we have, and now ever will have, to a full statement of Wojty_a?s mature philosophical position. So a brief review of its origins and key themes may be helpful in filling out this biographical portrait.

The origins of Person and Act are unclear. In an unpublished memoir of his work as a philosopher which he gave me while I was preparing Witness to Hope, John Paul II remembered that a Cracovian priest, Msgr. Stanislaw Czartoryski, had told him, after the publication of Love and Responsibility, "Now you must write a book on the person." Later in that same memoir, the Pope points us in a slightly different direction, writing that he wanted to work out in much greater detail the issues involved in marrying an Aristotelian-Thomistic "philosophy of being" to a Schelerian "philosophy of consciousness." Wojtyla's leading philosophical disciple, Father Styczen, gave me a third explanation of the origins of Person and Act: the book was intended, Styczen told me, to move philosophy from the Cartesian Cogito ergo sum, which had eventually led philosophy into the prison of solipsism, to Cognosco ergo sum [I understand, therefore I am a human person] -- which move, Stycze_ believed, would re-connect thinking-about-thinking, or philosophy's turn to the subject, to the things that were to be thought and understood. (Father Styczen, I should note, was a disciple with edge; when Wojtyla showed him the manuscript of Person and Act and asked for his comments, Styczen replied, "It's an interesting first draft. Perhaps it could now be translated from Polish into Polish to make it easier for the reader -- including me.") Person and Act is also a product of the Second Vatican Council, and in two senses. The first sense is personal: not even so assiduous a listener as Karol Wojtyla could sit quietly in the Council aula listening to gusts of Latin rhetoric day after day, month after month, over four years. Thirty years after the Council, John Paul II would admit to me, a little sheepishly, "You know, I wrote many parts of books and poems during the sessions of the Council." Thus Person and Act gave Wojtyla a connected piece of intellectual work to do amidst the fragmentation of conciliar debate; it also gave him the opportunity to pull together the threads of exploration in his monograpic lectures into a single philosophical tapestry.

There is another, deeper way in which Person and Act is connected to Vatican II, however. The Council had affirmed that the human person, precisely as a person, has a right to religious freedom, and that the right of religious freedom exists so that we may freely seek the truth, including the ultimate Truth who is God in his self-revelation. Wojtyla thought that this assertion had to be given a more secure philosophical demonstration, by showing that man's search for meaning is directed toward the good and that the man who seeks the good wants to seek what is objectively good: the subjectivity of the person, which expresses itself in our freedom, is ordered by its own internal dynamics to the question of what is, in reality, good -- which is also what is, in reality, true. Wojtyla also believed that the personalism of Gaudium et Spes [Vatican II?s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World] had to be put on a more secure philosophical foundation. For here, as he told Fr. Henri de Lubac, S.J., the great debate of late modernity was being played out: "The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation, indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person. This evil is even much more of the metaphysical order than of the moral order. [Against] this disintegration...we must [propose] a kind of 'recapitulation' of the inviolable mystery of the person." That is what Person and Act was intended to do.

The book begins with an introduction in which Wojtyla reflects on human experience and how human beings know the world and the truth of things. He then tries to show how our thinking about the world and ourselves helps us to understand ourselves precisely as persons. Some things simply "happen to me," but I have other experiences in which I know that I am making a decision and acting out that decision. In those experiences, I come to know myself as a person, a subject, or, in the classical term, the "efficient cause" of my actions. Some things don't simply "happen" to me. I am the subject, not merely the object, of actions. I make things happen, because I think through a decision and then freely act on it. Therefore, I am somebody, not simply something.

Wojtyla then shows how, in moral action, that somebody begins to experience his or her own transcendence. Our personhood, he argues, is constituted by the fact of our freedom, which we come to know through truly "human acts." In choosing one act (to pay a debt I have freely contracted) rather than another (to cheat on my debt), I am not simply responding to external conditions (fear of jail) or internal pressures (guilt). I am freely choosing what is good. In that free choosing, I am also binding myself to what I know is good and true. We can discern the transcendence of the human person in this free choice of the good and the true, Wojtyla suggests. I go beyond myself, I grow as a person, by realizing my freedom and conforming it to the good and the true.

Freedom, on one modern reading of it, is radical autonomy -- I am a self because my will is the primary reference point for my choosing. Wojtyla disagrees. Self-mastery, not self-assertion, is the index of a truly human freedom, he argues. And I achieve self-mastery, not by repressing or suppressing what is natural to me, but by thoughtfully and freely channeling those natural instincts of mind and body into actions that deepen my humanity because they conform to things-as-they-are. Empiricists try to find the human "center" in the body or its processes. Kantian idealists try to find it in structures of consciousness. Wojtyla leapfrogs the argument between empiricists and idealists by trying to demonstrate how moral action, not the psyche or the body, is where we find the center of the human person, the core of our humanity. For it is in moral action that the mind, the spirit, and the body come into the unity of a person.

That person lives in a world with many other persons. So Person and Act concludes with an analysis of moral action in conjunction with all those "others" who constitute the moral field in which our humanity realizes itself and transcends itself, or grows. Here, philosophical anthropology touches the border of social ethics -- How should free persons live together? As might be expected, Wojtyla takes a position beyond individualism and collectivism. Radical individualism is an inadequate anthropology because we only grow into our humanity through interaction with others. Collectivism strips the person of freedom, and thus of his or her personhood. Once again, Wojtyla suggests, the issue is best posed in "both/and" terms, the individual and the common good.

In working out his theory of "participation," Wojtyla analyzes four "attitudes" toward life in society. Two are incapable of nurturing a truly human society. "Conformism" is inauthentic because it means abandoning freedom. "Others" take me over so completely that my self is lost in the process. "Noninvolvement" is inauthentic, because it is solipsistic. Cutting myself off from others eventually results in the implosion of my self. "Opposition" (or what might be called "resistance") can be an authentic approach to life in society, if it involves resistance to unjust customs or laws in order to liberate the full humanity of others. Then there is "solidarity," the primary authentic attitude toward society, in which individual freedom is deployed to serve the common good, and the community sustains and supports individuals as they grow into a truly human maturity. "It is this attitude," Wojtyla writes, "that allows man to find the fulfillment of himself in complementing others."

He could not have known, when he first wrote about it in Person and Act, that "solidarity" would become the rallying cry which dramatically changed the history of the twentieth century.

The Philosopher as Pope

As far as circumstances permitted, Karol Wojtyla continued to walk among the philosophers after his election as pope. He hosted biennial humanities seminars during the summers at Castel Gandolfo, at which distinguished philosophers were always present; the cast of characters and the themes were predominantly continental European, flavored on several occasions by the Canadian Charles Taylor. He kept himself informed of developments at Lublin, where his former philosophy department colleague Father Krapiec, now the rector, found a way around the communist regime?s academic regulations to name Wojtyla "Honorary Professor," a title he held until his death. From a distance, he encouraged the work of a second successor generation of Polish philosophers including Fr. Andrzej Szostek, M.I.C., and Dr. Wojciech Chudy, whose habilitation thesis, "Philosophy in the Trap of Reflection" John Paul once called "the most important book in our 'school'" in thirty years. What leisure time he allowed himself as pope was often filled by reading contemporary philosophy; he was particularly interested in the philosophers of dialogue, and was likely the only man in the world who read Emmanuel Levinas for fun.

As pope, Wojtyla signaled his ongoing concern about contemporary culture's emphasis on instrumental reason in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis; he continued to develop that theme in the 1991 encyclical, Centesimus Annus, in his reflections on the foundational cultural requisites of the free and virtuous society. Seven years later, in September 1998, John Paul II issued Fides et Ratio, the highpoint of his magisterial reflection on the importance of philosophy in itself, for the Church and theology, and for human culture.

The encyclical was the first major papal statement on the relationship between faith and reason in almost one hundred twenty years. In 1870, the First Vatican Council had taught that human beings could know God's existence through reason; Leo XIII?s 1879 encyclical, Aeterni Patris, had proposed the philosophy and theology of Thomas Aquinas as the model for a synthesis of faith and reason. But a lot had happened in the world since the penultimate decade of the nineteenth century -- not least, philosophy's drastically diminished confidence in its capacity to know the truth of anything with certainty.

In Fides et Ratio, John Paul called this philosophy's "false modesty," and suggested that it had prevented philosophy from probing the big questions -- Why is there something rather than nothing? What is good and what is evil? What is happiness and what is delusion? What awaits me after this life? Philosophy's true vocation was to be a servant of the truth; the contemporary discipline's "false modesty" demeaned that vocation and helped open the door to a culture dominated by other forms of hubris -- an instrumental view of other human beings, a false faith in technology, the triumph of the will-to-power -- whose lethal effects had made the twentieth century into an abattoir. It was past time, John Paul argued, for philosophy to recover the sense of awe and wonder that directs it to transcendent truth. The alternative would be yet another century of tears.

Philosophy ordered to transcendent truth also remained crucial for religious believers, John Paul wrote. Ancient Greek philosophy had helped purge religion of superstition. The temptation to superstition is perennial, though, and sometimes takes the form of the claim that faith is not subject to rational analysis -- which, in contemporary culture, means stressing faith as a matter of feeling and experience. Citing Augustine, John Paul flatly rejected such fideism: "Believing is nothing other than to think with assent....Believers are also thinkers: in believing, they think and in thinking, they believe....If faith does not think it is nothing." In a twenty-first century destined to be heavily influenced by resurgent religious faith, this call to a reasonable faith, which found an important echo in Pope Benedict XVI?s September lecture at Regensburg and the recent response to it by thirty-eight senior Islamic leaders, looms large.

To postmodern theorists willing to allow religion a place at the table of intellectual life because religious truth is one possible truth among others, Fides et Ratio says, in effect, "No, thank you." Unless thinking is open to what John Paul terms the "horizon of the ultimate," it will inevitably turn in on itself and be locked in the prison of solipsism. The synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology in the patristic period taught a wiser lesson: human beings can know the true, the good, and the beautiful, even if we can never know them completely. Recovering that sense of confidence, John Paul asserted, is essential to creating a genuine humanism in the third millennium. The path to a wiser, nobler, more humane future thus runs through the wisdom of the first centuries of encounter between Jerusalem and Athens.

The separations of reason and faith, science and religion, philosophy and theology over the past several centuries have been caused by both philosophers and theologians, John Paul suggested. When theologians demean reason and philosophers deny the possibility of revelation, both are diminished, humanity is impoverished, and the development of a genuine humanism is frustrated. "Faith and reason," John Paul wrote, "are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth," and we can be sure that we will need to fly with both wings in the third millennium. The quest for truth is an instinct built into us. And the grandeur of the human person, the Pope concluded, is that we can choose "to enter the truth, to make a home under the shade of Wisdom and dwell there."

That Fides et Ratio was issued amidst the celebrations of John Paul II's twentieth anniversary as pope was entirely appropriate. In 1978, Karol Wojtyla had begun his pontificate with the clarion call, "Be not afraid!" Twenty years later, John Paul II continued to preach courage in Fides et Ratio. "Be not afraid of reason," the encyclical proposed. Be not afraid of the truth. For the truth, dispelling delusions, will set humanity free in the deepest meaning of liberation. The pope of freedom, the pope of a new humanism, had remained faithful to a vision of human possibility and civilizational transformation which had been deepened by his fifty-year-long walk among the philosophers. Confounding the expectations of skeptics and enemies, he had made the Catholic Church the world's premier institutional defender of human reason. Voltaire must have been spinning in his grave.

A Crisis and a Proposal

Karol Wojtyla's philosophical project will be assessed by professional philosophers for centuries. All those who admire intellectual courage will remain impressed by his effort to bridge the gap that had been opened in the seventeenth century between the world we want to grasp and the intellectual processes through which we think about that world. Yet it should be emphasized that philosophy, however seriously he took it (and he took it very seriously indeed), was never an end-in-itself for Wojtyla. Wojtyla's walk among the philosophers was an integral part of his life as priest and bishop. Leaving the professional assessment of his philosophical accomplishment to his philosophical peers, perhaps I can close with a biographer's appreciation of the large ideas that Wojtyla's philosophical work put into play in early twenty-first century culture.

His first achievement was to demonstrate that a "Law of the Gift" is, as he wrote in 1974, "inscribed deep within the dynamic structure of the person." Which is to say that the "threshold of hope" (as he styled his international bestseller) was not so much ahead of us as above us, in the dramatic struggle to surrender the persons we are to the persons we are called to be. That struggle can only be resolved by self-giving; it cannot be resolved by self-absorption or by radical personal autonomy. Wojtyla's demonstration and explication of the Law of the Gift can be engaged by anyone willing to work through a philosophical argument. Those who take the time and trouble to do so will discover a concept of goodness with traction, one that does not collapse into a mere "social construct."

Wojtyla's second achievement was a function of his extraordinarily wide range of interests. Wojtyla took his literary training and theatrical experience and married them to rigorous philosophical analysis in order to produce a picture of human life as inherently, "structurally" dramatic. We are not adrift in a cosmos without meaning. We are not the accidents of galactic biochemistry, nor is human history a by-product of the exhaust fumes generated by the means of production. As moral actors, we can become the protagonists, not the objects (or victims), of the drama of life. Wojtyla's demonstration of these truths of the human condition had immense appeal to those living under totalitarian repression and led to new forms of political resistance. His demonstration of those truths should also be attractive to those oppressed by a sense of powerlessness rooted in nihilism.

Then there was utilitarianism. It is instructive that Wojtyla was dissecting Bentham in 1956-57, when Bentham could hardly have been a major figure in Polish intellectual circles. Somehow, Wojtyla had intuited that the western humanistic project faced dangers beyond and after communism. So, over the years, Wojtyla's walk among the philosophers gave rise to his deep-reaching critique of a modern culture in which others are too often measured by their financial, social, political, or sexual utility; and he took that critique in a positive direction by his exploration of the claim that our relationship to truth, goodness, and beauty is the true stuff of our humanity. In doing so, Wojtyla showed that accepting the moral truth involved in the Law of the Gift is not a limit on our freedom or our creativity. Rather, truth makes us free and enables us to live our freedom toward its goal, which is happiness.

Rocco Buttiglione, an insightful commentator on Karol Wojtyla's walk among the philosophers, once suggested that there is a "hidden theological tendency" in Wojtyla's personalism. In Person and Act, his method was strictly philosophical; but the inspiration was Christian. It is in God the Holy Trinity, a "community" of self-giving "persons" who lose nothing of their uniqueness in their radical self-giving, that we see confirmed the Law of the Gift and the truth about freedom as freedom-for-self-donation. Thus Wojtyla's philosophy, like every other aspect of his life, was touched by his ongoing dialogue with God in prayer -- and that, too, may have something to say to contemporary philosophers.

Writing in Die Welt in 1982, the Yugoslav dissident Milovan Djilas remembered that, even after the assassination attempt that came within a few millimeters of ending his life, John Paul II seemed a man utterly without fear. Why was that, Djilas asked? Father Tadeusz Styczen suggested an answer to me, recalling John Paul's response to a question from Andr? Frossard. The French journalist had asked the Pope what the most important word in the Gospel was. "Truth," John Paul immediately said, for Christ had been born to bear witness to the truth, which was not a truth-for-Christians, but the truth of the world. Secure in that truth, and having deepened his understanding of the dynamics of the human apprehension of truth by his walk with the philosophers, Karol Wojtyla could be a man without fear -- and could summon others to fearlessness. Here was a philosophical walk with consequences.

New, More Faithful Translation of “The Theology of the Body”
8/18/2006 - 10:07 PST

New York, NY, August 18, 2006—The Theology of the Body remains one of John Paul II’s greatest gifts to the universal Church. However, official translations could not deliver the work in the form the Pope had intended.

Thanks to the meticulous research of a noted biblical scholar, John Paul II’s masterpiece has been newly translated and restored to its original meaning. In a series of essays, the book shows the divine plan for human spousal love and the spousal meaning of the body as proclaimed by Christ.

The new translation is the work of Dr. Michael M. Waldstein , Director of the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Gaming, Austria. Dr. Waldstein was no stranger to The Theology of the Body. The highly respected doctor of theology and professor had studied and taught its concepts of the spiritual communion of life, love, marriage, and sexuality for 10 years. “I had worked very hard to understand the order of the argument,” he remembers. “I thought I had made real progress, but I always wished I could get my hands on a division of the work by John Paul II himself.”

The many problems inherent in translating the inspirational lectures the Pope delivered to his General Audience between 1979 and 1984 are well known and frustrating to clergy, scholars, and lay readers alike. Given the circumstances under which these translations occurred, problems were inevitable.

Soon after each catechesis was delivered, it was sent to the English editorial office of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, to be translated by whomever was on duty at the time.

Because the several translators were dealing with individual catecheses, the results were inadvertent omissions, intentional edits, and many inconsistencies. For example, the key concept “spousal meaning of the body” is translated in eight different ways. Subsequent translators could not go back to change earlier text because it had already been published.

Therefore, existing English translations were simply a compilation of these slightly errant Osservatore transcripts. While theologically true and pedagogically helpful, they lacked the coherence originally conceived by John Paul II.

Realizing the compelling need for a new, systematic perspective that considered The Theology of the Body as a whole, Dr. Waldstein was confident that somewhere among John Paul II’s papers there had to be an outline he himself used while writing such a large and complex work.

Based on that conviction, Dr. Waldstein decided to delve into the John Paul II archives in Rome’s Casa Polacca. Not knowing Polish, he took with him a Polish colleague, Fr. Wojtek Janusiewicz.

The director of the archives said he was not aware that any outline existed. He gave the men folders of documents pertaining to The Theology of the Body, which contained the Italian typescript of the catecheses and some handwritten corrections by John Paul II. Initially, their investigation led to nothing new.

Further probing led to additional folders containing a Polish version of The Theology of the Body, but the archivist explained that the Italian text was the original and the Polish simply a translation. He insisted that they would not find anything that was not in the Italian.

When Dr. Waldstein and his colleague examined the documents, they were astonished to find that the Polish text contained an elaborate system of 219 section and sub-section headings—a crucial element of the work—consisting of some 1,600 words.

After careful consideration, they realized that this evidence proved that the Polish was not a translation from the Italian, but in fact the exact opposite. In their hands, they held an original manuscript of The Theology of the Body that was completely unknown to scholars.

Their conclusion was later confirmed when the scholars managed to track down the religious sister who had typed the original manuscript for Cardinal Karol Wojtyla while he was still in Krakow and before his elevation to Pope. This revelation was further supported by a note in John Paul II’s own handwriting, explicitly stating that the structure of the work remained the same when he adapted it for his Wednesday audiences.

Preparing to bring this original text to the English-speaking public, Dr. Waldstein realized the responsibility that lay before him. “As a scripture scholar, my main focus is to study the word of God, and to make it more accessible to people,” he explains. “When I began my translation, I was flooded more and more with a great sense of urgency, that this work desperately needed be made available to the Church.”

Dr. Waldstein’s faith and perseverance, and his dedication to the text have led to the scheduled publication this September of The Theology of the Body: A New Translation Based on the John Paul II Archives.

For this new edition, John Paul II’s original system of chapter headings has been translated from Polish for the first time. Dr. Waldstein believes that the headings will provide a substantial help for readers. “That alone would have made it worthwhile to produce a new edition,” he explains. “In studying the book, the impression of many people is that you don't know where you are and where you're going. You understand that it's all extremely interesting and profound, but you feel a bit at sea. Restoring the Pope's own structure and headings really breaks open the text. I think the orientation people will feel when they read it is a qualitative leap from what was possible before.”

Six additional catecheses printed in the Polish edition are also published for the first time in English. The Pope’s trademark use of italics, much of which had been lacking in the first translation or removed by subsequent editors, has been restored. Inconsistencies caused by different translators have been corrected, and sentences have been properly reconstructed.

“The biggest difference my translation provides is the rigor of the Pope’s thinking and the clear order of thought throughout the work. The task of the translator is to disappear as much as possible,” says Dr. Waldstein. “I wanted to make John Paul II’s own words available.”

Dr. Waldstein’s introduction presents the growth of the Pope’s theological and philosophical thinking to explain the root issues of his writing. While clearly articulating its rigorous structure and arguments, Dr. Waldstein also reveres the beauty and poetry of the Pontiff’s language. “There are many passages about love that are transparent and hauntingly beautiful,” he says.

Dr. Waldstein adds that reading The Theology of the Body is like climbing a very high mountain. “It takes a good amount of effort, but you climb up all the time, which means that you reach higher and higher levels. And from the top, the view is breathtaking. The Pope’s words can be read by everybody.”

In his Foreword, Christopher West, himself an authority on the work, sums up the importance of The Theology of the Body: A New Translation Based on the John Paul II Archives: “It is my sincere hope that this brightly polished edition of John Paul II’s revolutionary catechesis inspires a new generation of bishops, priests, theologians, religious educators, and lay enthusiasts to study, live, and proclaim the theology of the body to the world in the new evangelization.”

Biographical Notes: Dr. Michael M. Waldstein.
Dr. Michael M. Waldstein is Founding President (1996-2006) and now Francis of Assisi Professor of New Testament at the International Theological Institute, Austria. He and his wife, Susan, are members of the Pontifical Council for the Family. After his academic training (B.A. Thomas Aquinas College, California; Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Dallas; Licentiate in Scripture, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome; Th.D. in New Testament, Harvard Divinity School) he taught for eight years at the University of Notre Dame where he became Associate Professor of New Testament. Dr. Waldstein and his wife are the parents of eight children.


Issue Date:  July 14, 2006

Unpublished work by John Paul II speaks debate


A little-known and unpublished work by Fr. Karol Wojtyla has touched off debate among experts across the globe about whether the future Pope John Paul II, as a young academic, had developed an appreciation of some aspects of Marxism as well as a strong critique of U.S.-style capitalism.

The John Paul II Institute in Lublin, Poland, which is charged with Wojtyla’s pre-papal writings, has plans to publish the work in the near future. However, interpretations of the two-volume Katolicka Etyka Spoleczna (Catholic Social Ethics) have been bitterly contested, a debate touched off in Wojtyla’s homeland of Poland and beyond when the authors of this article first wrote about the unpublished volume in a cover story for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet last January.

The text contradicts views promoted by neoconservative thinkers who depict the pontiff as a lifelong fan of U.S.-style liberal capitalism. It also raises questions of why, when every detail of Wojtyla’s life has been combed over by researchers and biographers, mention of this 511-page work has apparently been avoided.

Catholic Social Ethics originated as a series of lectures by Wojtyla in 1953-54, and was typed and bound for students and academics. It provides no evidence that the future pope had any direct political affiliation. However, it shows Wojtyla had acquired by his early 30s a sophisticated knowledge of Marxism and an empathy with its critique of capitalist injustices. It shows he had already rejected both “socialist totalism” and “individualistic liberalism” as prerequisites for a well-organized society.

“The church is aware that the bourgeois mentality and capitalism as a whole, with its materialist spirit, acutely contradict the Gospel,” Wojtyla writes.

“From the church’s standpoint, it is a question of ensuring, by way of various economic-structural forms, just participation by all members of society, and especially people of work, in possessing sufficient amounts of assets and participating at least to some extent in productive goods.”

Statements like this have proved hard to accept in some church quarters.

In his 1999 biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope, George Weigel relegated the work to a footnote, claiming Wojtyla had used course notes from an older colleague, Professor Jan Piwowarczyk, and could not be regarded as the author. Catholic Social Ethics was, in any case, “a rather conventional presentation of the church’s social doctrine in the 1950s,” Weigel assured his readers.

In a January letter to The Tablet, Weigel again dismissed what he called an “alleged Wojtyla text,” claiming the pope “did not regard the work as his own.” This is rejected by Polish experts on John Paul II, who insist Catholic Social Ethics, though drawing on Piwowarczyk, is indeed Wojtyla’s work, and could significantly affect interpretations of his philosophical development.

“It shows, clearly and unequivocally, how deeply he believed Christians had to resist injustice and oppression,” said Fr. Jan Glowczyk, an expert with Rome’s John Paul II Foundation. “Though it can’t be treated as an official text, it should be studied and interpreted accordingly.”

The recent attention to the work has provoked negative reactions in Poland, too, particularly at Catholic University of Lublin, where the future pope once taught.

In March, Lublin Archbishop Jozef Zycinski summoned a meeting of professors and declared “support for the views of George Weigel,” dismissing suggestions that Wojtyla had expressed “sympathy for Marxism” and “criticism of capitalism.” Wojtyla might have shown “social sensitivity,” the archbishop added. But this shouldn’t to be “identified with the position of the left.”

Zycinski has worked with Weigel on “Free Society” summer schools in Poland, alongside U.S. neoconservatives Michael Novak and Fr. Richard Neuhaus. He announced he was setting up a special Web site to counter “false interpretations of “John Paul II’s views at various stages of his life.”

Meanwhile, the Polish church’s official Catholic Information Agency insisted Wojtyla had only criticized capitalism out of deference to Pope Pius XI, and defended Zycinski’s demand for “rational restrictions” to be imposed on discussion of the pope’s outlook.

Zycinski and his supporters will have trouble controlling public comment once Catholic Social Ethics is published. The bulk of the work is written as a response to Marxism. Wojtyla’s aim, he makes clear, isn’t to apply Marxism to Christianity, but to give Marxist concepts a Christian meaning, and win back the ideas of social justice that Marxism had expropriated.

Wojtyla traces communism itself back to Christian tradition, even subtitling one section “The Objective Superiority of the Communist Ideal.” But he makes clear he is using the term generically to mean common ownership. The church believes “the private ownership principle” can be upheld while “enfranchising the proletariat.”

“In the contemporary communist movement, the church sees and acknowledges an expression of largely ethical goals,” the future pope concedes.

“In line with patristic traditions and the centuries-old practice of monastic life, the church itself acknowledges the ideal of communism. But it believes, given the current state of human nature, that the general implementation of this ideal -- while protecting the human person’s complete freedom -- faces insurmountable difficulties.”

This does not, however, invalidate the use of struggle to change the social and economic order, he writes. Since human beings are endowed with free will, they are able to “choose spiritual goodness.” Yet violent upheavals can be ethically justified as a means of resisting unjust rulers, and as “the supreme penalty for concrete guilts and crimes in the sphere of socioeconomic life.”

Catholicism cannot “agree with materialism” or the “primacy of economics,” Wojtyla writes. But it recognizes that “various facts and historical processes” are economically determined. “In a well organized society, orientated to the common good, class conflicts are solved peacefully through reforms. But states that base their order on individualistic liberalism are not such societies. So when an exploited class fails to receive in a peaceful way the share of the common good to which it has a right, it has to follow a different path.”

“Class struggle should gain strength in proportion to the resistance it faces from economically privileged classes, so the systemic social situation will mature under this pressure to the appropriate forms and transitions,” Wojtyla continues.

“Guided by a just evaluation of historical events, the church should view the cause of revolution with an awareness of the ethical evil in factors of the economic and social regime, and in the political system, that generates the need for a radical reaction. It can be accepted that the majority of people who took part in revolutions -- even bloody ones -- were acting on the basis of internal convictions, and thus in accordance with conscience.”

Wojtyla was not the only Polish priest writing about Marxism at the time. Archbishop Stefan Wyszynski, who also wrote extensively on Catholic ethics, claimed in his prison diaries to have “gone through Das Kapital three times,” and makes clear he would have supported communist “socioeconomic reform” if not for the party’s “narrow atheism.”

In this context, Wojtyla’s controversial style could be said to reflect the language of the epoch. Although the text’s ideas are couched in Marxist language, the meaning behind them accords with Christian teaching, and conveys in unconventional terms what popes from Leo XIII onward had said about the abuses of liberalism and unchecked competition.

That, however, isn’t how Catholic Social Ethics is being viewed in the Polish church.

Tomasz Styczen, who heads Lublin’s John Paul II Institute, said the work wasn’t submitted for publication in Poland originally for fear its analysis of Marxism would offend the communist censors. Once Wojtyla was pope, Styczen said, it was considered “unpropitious” to draw attention to it.

Virtually every other piece of Wojtyla’s writing has been published, from the youthful poetry he penned as a teenager to the weighty conference papers he delivered as a cardinal. When a collection of his handwritten lectures as a parish priest in 1949 was published toward the end of his life, a leading Catholic ethicist insisted they had “lost none of their relevance” for the present.

Can a work of such importance as Catholic Social Ethics simply have slipped through the net?

That question is being asked in Poland. In a front-page spread, the Zycie Warszawy daily accused the Lublin institute of attempting to “censor the pope” by withholding the text from John Paul II’s Polish beatification tribunal, which ended April 1 after just five months’ work.

Meanwhile, the Polityka weekly criticized church leaders like Zycinski for showing short memories. “Whoever knows a bit about postwar church history in Poland knows there’s nothing surprising or morally dubious in the polemics and discussions of church hierarchs and intellectuals with Marxist doctrine,” wrote Polityka columnist Adam Szostkiewicz. “They also know what a great challenge Marxism posed to Wojtyla’s generation. It spoke in a language pleasant to the ears of Catholics disappointed by the failures and faults of interwar Poland.”

Fr Andrzej Szostek, rector of the Catholic University of Lublin, has insisted no attempt was made to suppress the text. The John Paul II Institute had merely found “more important texts” to publish during John Paul’s 26-year pontificate, Szostek said in April. Meanwhile, the beatification tribunal had only considered Wojtyla’s officially published texts.

Speaking at a Lublin conference in May, Szostek admitted that Wojtyla had used Catholic Social Ethics to “formulate fundamental intuitions concerning capitalism and Marxism.” That should qualify the work for fair and open study by historians. It should also raise doubts about using the pope to bless any single ideology.

But Zycinski has rejected suggestions that there can be “valid differences of view and interpretation” about John Paul II’s early life and work. Meanwhile, Szostek has warned that an “authentic version” of the text must be prepared, with “commentaries to help with its understanding.”

“Editing this script isn’t a simple matter,” Szostek cautioned in an April statement. “It requires scientific reliability.”

Jonathan Luxmoore and Jolanta Babiuch write from Oxford, England, and Warsaw, Poland. Their latest book, Rethinking Christendom: Europe’s Struggle for Christianity, is published by Gracewing.


Retranslating the Theology of the Body
Interview With Michael Waldstein

GAMING, Austria, JUNE 1, 2006 ( The discovery of Polish texts predating Pope John Paul II's pontificate sheds new light on his catechesis about love and sexuality, says a leading scholar.

Michael Waldstein, the founding president of the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, changed his perspective on John Paul II after the discovery of the texts.

Waldstein, who is expecting the publication of his new translation of the theology-of-the-body series in September, shared his views on this catechetical work with ZENIT in this interview.

Q: What is the necessity of publishing a new translation of John Paul II's theology of the body?

Waldstein: There are many problems in the existing translation. For example, the key concept "significato sponsale del corpo" -- spousal meaning of the body -- which John Paul II uses 117 times, is translated in eight different ways. The reason is easy to understand.

On any given Wednesday when John Paul II delivered one of the catecheses at the general audience, the Italian text was sent over to L'Osservatore Romano and whoever was on duty at the English desk translated it. The translators did not have the work as a whole before them, but they translated each catechesis individually. These various inconsistencies indicate that there were several translators.

Later translators could not go back and change the translation, because it had already been published. The edition by Pauline Books and Media is simply a compilation of these translations.

And so there is a need for a systematic translation that considers the work as a whole to make decisions about particular terms in light of the whole.

I began to retranslate passages that I needed for the book about the theology of the body I have been working on for the past five years. At a certain point the decision to translate the whole text became the logical next step, so I contacted Pauline Books and Media.

It seemed a providential moment, because the Daughters of St. Paul had become increasingly aware of the need for a new translation and were praying that God would show them some way to produce it.

It has been both wonderful and fun to work with them. They are professional and animated by a strong love for John Paul II.

There is a second reason why we need a new edition. It is even more important.

The current translation does not contain John Paul II's own headings. Just imagine reading a complex work like Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" with all the headings gone. You would get lost like someone in the fog. You wouldn't know where you are or where you are going. The headings help to organize the work as a whole.

Q: Why did earlier editions not have these headings? Where did you find them?

Waldstein: I found them at the John Paul II archives in Rome. It was an exciting discovery.

Like many people, when I began reading the "Theology of the Body" I felt disoriented. A deep argument seemed to be going on, but its overall structure was not clear to me.

Some people say the "Theology of the Body" is like this because John Paul II was a phenomenologist rather than a Thomist, or a mystic rather than a theologian, or a Slav rather than a Western European. In the work for my book, I thought I had made some real progress in understanding the overall structure.

Still, I wanted to know how John Paul II himself thought of it. I felt sure he must have had an outline when he wrote the work.

So about half a year ago I went with a Polish friend to the Dom Polski, the Polish Pilgrim House in Rome, on the Via Cassia, where the John Paul II Archives are kept.

We looked through the Italian materials, but found nothing. We were disappointed, but asked the director of the archives if he had anything else. Yes, he said, we have the materials of the Polish translation, but you will not find anything there that is not in the Italian, because the Italian is the original text.

We decided to take a look nevertheless and found a Polish text that had a five level division with headings I had never seen before. It turns out that Cardinal Wojtyla wrote the theology of the body in Polish before his election in 1978. It seems to have been ready for publication.

We became fully sure about the priority of the Polish text only when we managed to contact the sister who actually typed the manuscript in Krakow before John Paul II's election.

In the archives we also found a handwritten note from John Paul II to his secretary that explains that the structure of the theology of the body would remain exactly the same when he adapted it for the series of catecheses.

Having these headings is a revelation. It opens up the text in amazing ways. You see how rigorous John Paul II's writing really is.

The reason why other editions don't have these headings seems to be the relatively isolated life of the individual catecheses. John Paul II delivered them one by one without, of course, saying, just to take one example, We are now in Part Two -- The Sacrament; Chapter Two -- The Dimension of Sign; Section Two -- The Song of Songs; Subsection Three -- Eros or Agape?

That would have been unintelligible. When he was finished, the catecheses were collected and assembled, but the knowledge of the structure of the whole was lost. Only John Paul II's Polish collaborators had this knowledge. I don't know why it did not cross the language barrier into Italian.

Q: What reasons could you give for the growing attraction of people to the theology of the body?

Waldstein: To all men and women, their own body is very precious, and what happens with that body, especially in love, in erotic relations, is very significant.

Nobody can be indifferent to sexuality. To make sense of sexuality, deep sense, penetrating sense that shows the beauty of union between man and woman, and also the beauty of celibate life, is worth a good amount of effort.

This is the main reward of climbing the tall mountain of the theology of the body. You see your own body differently. You see it as being full of meaning. This is my experience and the experience of the many students with whom I have studied the theology of the body here in Austria.

Q: What is particularly revolutionary about John Paul II's ideas of the human person and sexuality?

Waldstein: In his preface to the new translation, Cardinal Schönborn singles out three striking theses that are relatively new in Catholic magisterial teaching.

One, the image of God is found in man and woman above all in the communion of love between them, which reflects the communion of love between the persons of the Trinity.

Two, in God's design, the spousal bodily union of man and woman is the original effective sign through which holiness entered the world.

Three, this sign of marriage "in the beginning" is thus the foundation of the whole sacramental order.

I am not sure though whether "revolutionary" is quite the right word, because John Paul II's roots in the tradition are so deep and he stands in such substantial continuity with it.

In the introduction that I wrote for the new translation I show that John Paul II is deeply rooted in St. John of the Cross, in particular in the Mystical Doctor's spousal understanding of Christian life. On his deathbed, when his brothers prayed the traditional prayers for the dead, St. John of the Cross waived them off and asked them to read the Song of Songs.

Of course there are many tributaries to John Paul II's vision of sexuality, but at the very heart of his vision, John Paul II unfolds the implicit theology of marriage in St. John of the Cross. When Karol Wojtyla was 21, before he entered the seminary, he learned Spanish to read St. John of the Cross in the original, and seven years later he wrote his dissertation under Garrigou-Lagrange about his favorite poet and theologian.

In comparison with much theological writing about marriage in the Catholic tradition, which approached marriage often from the point of view of law -- to help confessors and those who had to judge marriage cases -- John Paul II's approach is decidedly "personalistic" and focused on the actual experience of love. He himself helped to form this fresh vision of love during Vatican II and it is the predominant form of his thinking in the theology of the body.

He explains that in some streams of the Catholic tradition sex itself got blamed for the trouble it seems to cause so many people because of the intensity of the pleasure.

The theology of the body rejects that mechanism of shifting the blame from the heart to sex. John Paul II is radically anti-Manichaean. Human sexuality is good, created by God as a "language of the body" to express love, to express the gift of self between man and woman.

Q: What are some of the main themes emphasized in this new translation?

Waldstein: I try out to bring out in the introduction that the theology of the body responds to a split between the person and the body as seen in the history of philosophy.

It goes back to the reconstruction of knowledge for the sake of power over nature in Francis Bacon and Descartes and the scientific revolution they spearheaded. We owe the "scientific" rationalist way of looking at nature to this ambition for power.

John Paul II is very conscious of this history and of the modern split between person and body. He explicitly attempts to overcome it. There are many passages in which he says, directly against Descartes, that the human person "is a body," not just "has a body."

The human body with the sexual language created by God has a deep kinship with the person. The sentient body is created for the person as an _expression of personal love.

In fact, the body is immediately and directly personal, because the person "is a body." A great Thomist, Charles De Koninck, came up with a variation on Descartes' famous statement: "Sedeo ergo sum, I sit therefore I am." This is much in the spirit of John Paul II.

It was important to get the passages about the relation between the person and the body absolutely clear. They were a bit obscure in the old translation.

One theme is very decidedly de-emphasized in the new translation, namely, lust. In the existing English translation, Jesus says, "Whoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" -- Matthew 5:28, following the Revised Standard Version.

John Paul II's translation is much closer to the Greek original. It has "Whoever looks at a woman to desire her." The difference is important. Desire can be good or bad; lust is a vice.

In the Italian text of the theology of the body, you can find the word "lust" -- lussuria" -- four times. You can add six instances of lustful -- "libidinoso" -- and 11 of "libido" for 21 defensible instances of "lust."

In the existing English translation, you have "lust" 343 times. That is a massive multiplication of "lust." The reason is the RSV translation of Matthew 5:28 -- "looks lustfully."

When John Paul II discusses Jesus' words in detail and repeatedly uses the word "desire" -- "desiderare" or "desiderio" -- in agreement with his own translation -- "looks to desire" -- the existing English translation tries to preserve the connection with the term "lustfully" and often translates "desire" as "lust."

It multiplies "lust" further by frequently using it to translate "concupiscenza." But concupiscence is a wider concept than lust. Sexual concupiscence is only one of its species. The multiplication of "lust" introduces a note of pan-sexualism that is foreign to John Paul II.

Q: Has the target audience changed from the original translation? Would the average lay person find this text easy to read, or is it more of a scholarly work?

Waldstein: The target audience is the universal Church. The theology of the body is a catechesis designed for the universal Church, for everybody, though in different ways.

It is a difficult work, though it has many passages that are fantastically powerful, poetic and clear. John Paul II seems to have written it as one would write a theological journal: with all the philosophical and theological resources available to him.

Vatican II says about preaching and catechesis that they are the primary means for a bishop to exercise his teaching office. In accord with that principle, the ordinary magisterium of the Pope consists mainly in his preaching and catecheses.

It is clear that John Paul II intended these catecheses for the universal Church. In that way, the theology of the body is for everybody. Since it is a difficult text, there needs to be much work of explaining and popularizing.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the academic world, the theology of the body has not been studied much. My Introduction is an attempt to open up the text a bit for academic study.

In the theology of the body John Paul II was really wrestling with the fundamental questions of our age, the question of progress, of the nature of science, of technology and its good as well as dangers, etc. It is a powerful contribution to the debate about those questions and deserves a hearing.

Q: What kind of long-term impact do you foresee for this theology of the body on the world?

Waldstein: The love of people for John Paul II has grown tremendously in the years since he first delivered his catecheses. One could see the outpouring of love after he died.

In his theology of the body, John Paul II left us the core of his great vision, a vision focused on the mystery of love that reaches from the Trinity through Christ's spousal relation with the Church to the concrete bodies of men and women.

I am convinced it will increasingly speak to people and have a profound impact. It is what our culture needs.