The Philosopher Pope Review

This blog, The Philosopher Pope Review, is devoted to the thought of Karol Wojtyła, the man who became Pope . This blog could as well be named The Polish Pope Review, or The Poet Philosopher Review. For Karol Wojtyła was a man of many gifts and talents. Mary Craig, when assigned the task of writing a biography of the new Pope, subsequently published with the title, Man from a Far Country, opened her book with this query: “Which Wojtyla do you want me to talk about? Wojtyła the priest? Wojtyła the church leader? the poet? the philosopher? the actor? the student hero? the friend of the poor? the country lover? the contemplative? the sportsman? It may take several months, but where would you like me to begin?” The wealth of talent and gifts of Wojtyła emerged early in his life. In Pope John Paul II: The Life of Karol Wojtyła, Fr. Mieczyslaw Malinski recounts a story from Mgr Zacher that it was during graduation from high school that Wojtyla first came to the attention of the Archbishop of Kraków Adamo Stefano Sapieha: “I remember Prince Sapieha once came to the school and Karol made a welcoming speech which he had shown me beforehand. Afterwards the Cardinal said to me “Does that boy intend to become a priest? I replied: “not as far as I know. He has a passion with theatre, and he is fascinated just now by Dr. Kotlarczyk.” “That’s a pity,” the Cardinal replied.’ And near the end of his life, his student and colleague Stanislaw Grygiel observed: “His humanity was poetical in a priestly way, and priestly in a poetical way.”

The life and work of Karol Wojtyła/Pope John Paul II is difficult to encapsulate both because of the extraordinary times in which he lived and because of the many talents and achievements he exhibited throughout his life. But a whim of alliterative insight we must consider the following aspects of his life and work:

  • Poland: He was deeply shaped by his native country and culture, Poland.
  • Poet: He took a first shine to languages,  studied philology and literature, and developed his talent for acting, play writing, and poetry.
  • Prayer and Piety: From an early age, influenced by both parents, Karol Wojtyła showed a fondness for religious shrines and pilgrimages; he prayed often; he loved the Carmelite tradition; his Marian devotion was legendary.
  • Priest: during the crucible of war torn and Nazi occupied Poland, young Karol Wojtyła decided for the priesthood and he abandoned the theater. In priesthood he responded to the call to lift up to God all of creation in an act of praise and thanksgiving. He was inspired by Saint Brother Albert (born Adam Chmielowski in 1845), an artist who gave up his art to serve God as a Franciscan in ministry to the poor. Karol Wojtyła wrote a play about him, God’s Only Brother. He was named a Bishop, which was an intensification of the priestly ministry.
  • Philosopher and Professor: he began the study of philosophy for the seminary and ordination, but was sent to Rome to study at the Angelicum. He learned the philosophy of Aristotle and St. . But he also found an interest in the new currents of phenomenology which he incorporated into this philosophy as a supplement to Thomism. He was a very successful and beloved professor at the Catholic University of Lublin. His great book on The Acting Person was published the year he became Pope and it was overshadowed by his new ministry and writings as Pope.
  • Politician: He admitted that he was not that interested in Politics until he became a bishop and he had to stand up to the communist’s abuse of authority and to defend the Church in the political arena. There are many books on this topic, the most of which is an excellent work by Paul Kengor, A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, nd the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century (2017).
  • Pope: as the Bishop of Rome, he brought all of the talents and aspects to bear upon his work and his witness to the dignity of the human person and the mercy of God. His first encyclical, Redeemer of Man, showed all of these talents and gifts, especially his priestly ministry and his philosophy.

In the first entries to this new blog we hope to explore these many aspects of the life and thought of Pope John Paul II. Please forward to us any submissions you would like to make on these topics. Our email is jp2forum@gmail.com.

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