Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wojtyla and Newman

Few saints have famously taken on the intellectual elite of an entire nation and proved themselves the wiser in the end. John Henry Cardinal Newman and Karol Wojtyla have done so in England and Poland respectively. And they have inspired others to do the same:

1) Newman’s influence reaches all the way to JRR Tolkien’s lifelong fidelity to Catholicism
2) Wojtyla’s influence on Jerzy Popieluszko I have written about elsewhere

Since I have just finished Humphrey Carpenter’s biography on Tolkien, I think it’s worth noting that the Birmingham Oratory which Newman established as a Catholic refuge for priests in England housed the foster-father of Tolkien himself (Father Francis Morgan). Indeed, Father Morgan financed Tolkien’s education at Oxford—the very same institution Newman had attended during his years of conversion to Rome.

John Paul II writes of that conversion:

Newman’s search was shot through with pain. Once he had come to that unshakeable sense of the mission entrusted to him by God, he declared: ‘Therefore, I will trust Him... If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him... He does nothing in vain... He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me. Still, He knows what He is about’

Where his intellectually elite friends at Oxford were “taken away”, Newman formed his own society of those who were unafraid to embrace the cross. The Pope continues, “In the end, therefore, what shines forth in Newman is the mystery of the Lord’s Cross: this was the heart of his mission, the absolute truth which he contemplated, the ‘kindly light’ which led him on.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Warsaw Archbishop Interview 02/02/2015

Expressing his disappointment in a Polish interview, Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw said that the wisdom of Karol Wojtyla has been deemed “too difficult” to incorporate into marriage and family life. More pointedly, he stated that the teaching of St. John Paul II has been “betrayed” by the lack of pastoral application[1]. Perhaps this is exactly why, by God’s design, a Synod on the Family has been called; if so, then why hasn’t the Slavic Pope's Institute on Marriage and Family been referenced?[2] Thus far, no such attempts to discuss how to incorporate Wojtyla’s teaching have been brought to light.

As a result, the Archbishop is led to say the following (translated below): Powiem brutalne: Kościół zdradził Jana Pawła II. Nie Kościół jako oblubienica Chrystusa, Kościół naszego Credo, bo Jan Paweł II był wyrazem, głosem autentycznego Kościoła, ale praktyka duszpasterska zdradziła Jana Pawła II. To jest teza, pod którą się podpisuję, gdyż 40 lat mojego kapłaństwa poświęciłem małżeństwu i rodzinie i w tym czasie wypromowałem hasło „ewangelizacji intymności małżeńskiej”. W Polsce jest i było lepiej pod tym względem. W wielu innych krajach, po kontestacji nauczania Kościoła, wyrażonego przez bł. Pawła VI, zaprzestano praktyki duszpasterstwa rodzin.[3]

The attitude that the teaching is “too difficult” is precisely what Wojtyla warned was a defeatist response in the face of concupiscence (the tendency toward sin and selfishness). Instead, he very clearly called for an “ethos of redemption” whereby the faithful witness to the fact that Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection have an efficacious impact in their lives. Without such witness, accusation and suspicion reign. Likewise, without praxis, the “ethos of redemption” called for by Karol Wojtyla lacks any point of reference. This is why the final October 2015 sessions of the Synod on the family must address both the ethos of JPII and the praxis. There must be true witness to how his teaching is authentic and practical at the local level. I agree with Weigel that incorporating representatives of the Institute on Marriage and Family is essential to effectively communicating the “Gospel of the Family” in these trying times.


[1] Niedziela: February 2nd issue “Interview with Archbishop Hoser of Warsaw”. http://www.niedziela.pl/artykul/13870/Abp-Hoser-odejscie-od-nauczania-Jana

[2] Weigel, George. “Between Two Synods”. First Things: January 2015 issue. Weigel raises the question in the first place: “Why were no faculty members of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family invited as auditors or observers of the synod? The institute’s home base is the pope’s own Roman university, the Lateran; it has faculties around the world; Stanisław Grygiel, the Institute’s founding director, and his wife, Ludmilla, had given magnificent papers on the Christian idea of marriage at a European conference on family matters shortly before the synod. But the Grygiels were not invited to the synod, nor was the distinguished moral ­theologian who is now the Rome institute’s director, Msgr. Livio Melina. Given the ways of the Vatican, this could not have been an accidental omission. It seems far more likely that it was a deliberate decision by the synod’s general secretary, Cardinal ­Baldisseri, who was presumably uninterested in having the Kasper approach and the Kasper ­proposals challenged by the magisterium of John Paul II—even though that magisterium had shown itself over the past two decades to have been the Church’s most successful response to the sexual revolution and the severe collateral damage that upheaval had done to marriage and the family.”

[3] Niedziela: February 2nd issue “Interview with Archbishop Hoser of Warsaw”. http://www.niedziela.pl/artykul/13870/Abp-Hoser-odejscie-od-nauczania-Jana I will tell you brutally. The Church has betrayed John Paul II. Not the Church as the Bride of Christ, not the Church of our Creed, because John Paul II was an expression, an authentic voice of the Church; but it is the pastoral practice that has betrayed John Paul II. The pastoral practice also betrayed Pope John Paul II because they did not follow his voice, they did not acquaint themselves with his teachings. Everyone says that it is difficult, even pastors and lay people often say, the Church documents are too difficult, that ‘we do not understand them.’

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Karol Wojtyla’s Namesake: St. Charles Borromeo

Benedict XVI, in an Angelus dated November 4th 2007, recalls both St. Charles Borromeo and Karol Wojtyla as “two great men of the Church, distant in time but close in the Spirit”.

He goes on to say of Borromeo: ‘model of the pastor known for his exemplarity in charity, doctrine, apostolic zeal and above all prayer.’ The Pope recalled the bishop's words, ‘We conquer souls on our knees.’

Lastly he remembers, “venerable predecessor John Paul II, who with devotion bore St. Charles' name."

Blessed John Paul II, the former Karol Wojtyla, was indeed named for Charles Borromeo and during his pontificate, November 4th was a national holiday for Vatican City State.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Pope of Subsidiarity

Local issues need local solutions. In other words, on a personal level, I am responsible for me, then my spouse, then my children, etc. in a kind of ripple effect. Karol Wojtyla’s thought applied the principle of subsidiarity on these personal levels, knowing that the Gospel itself spreads person to person.

The co-founder of the Acton institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, Fr. Robert Sirico calls St. John Paul II “the Pope of Subsidiarity” for a number of excellent reasons: opposition to Marxism, opposition to impersonal market economies, importance of the dignity of human work for persons, debt-forgiveness, opposition to population control, and fostering entrepreneurship. Most of these points appear in his encyclical Centesimus Annus, but also in Laborem Exercens.

JPII’s call for a year of jubilee at the second millennium was no ideological game. He truly meant for persons enslaved to debt, even nations enslaved by other nations, to be relieved of their burdens in some small way:

I don’t recall John Paul ever saying that the debts of developing nations should simply be forgiven unconditionally. He was very conscious of the Church’s teachings about commutative justice and the way that this demands that we keep our promises. He was not blind to the fact that there was a strong likelihood that outright debt cancellation would destroy many developing nations’ credit ratings which are essential to obtain foreign capital. John Paul did, however, ask lending nations to be generous in the way that they sought to lighten the debt burdens of many developing nations.[1]

That said, there was an entire movement called Jubilee Coalition leading up to the year 2000 to implement debt relief as represented by a majority of the world’s economy at the time 1998 (US, UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Russia). In response,

US Congress responded to the growing pressure to address debt relief issues in 2000 by committing $769 million to bilateral and multilateral debt relief.[2]

While subsidiarity is not all about debt relief or even solely a financial issue, it is impressive to know that JPII’s call for jubilee was carried out in a semi-effective way. I will close with 2 qoutes from Fr. Sirico similar to my opening remarks on locality, and the latter on work as defined in Laborem Exercens:

1) In a sense one might indeed refer to John Paul as the Pope of Subsidiarity. No previous pope, including Pope Pius XXI, has outlined in such depth and detail and applied it so manifestly to the modern Welfare State as John Paul did. He showed the levels of society needed to meet human needs where they actually existed: when “neighbors act as neighbors to those in need” and also identified the way in which an erroneous effort leads only to creating expensive and ineffective bureaucracies that fail to see the deepest needs of the human heart.

2) The encyclical underscores the Christian tradition that there are two dimensions to human work. The first is the objective-transitive dimension: the effect of an act of work upon the world. The second is the subjective-intransitive dimension: the effect of the same act of work upon the person who initiates it. It can either promote virtue or vice.

[1] http://www.acton.org/global/article/john-paul-ii-wojtyla-pope-subsidiarity-interview-r

[2] E. Carrasco, C.McClellan, & J. Ro (2007), "Foreign Debt: Forgiveness and Repudiation" University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development E-Book

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) was established by St John Paul II in 1988. Unlike the SSPX, they are loyal to Rome and in line with the Papal Magisterium. Like the SSPX, they celebrate with special devotion the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite according to the liturgical books of 1962. Oftentimes, they are placed near high concentrations of the SSPX, so as to combat the schism in my understanding.

In their own words, here are some of the charisms of FSSP:

1) A deep love and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
2) Faithful following of Christ the High Priest, source of all grace, our example and our inspiration.
3) Filial love and true devotion to Mary the Mother of Priests and patroness of our seminary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
4) Loyalty and fidelity to, and dependence on, the Magisterium of the Church and the successor of Saint Peter, our Patron.

Two current publications that follow the dealings of SSPX and FSSP are the Remnant and the Wanderer, respectively. In one article from the Wanderer, which happens to be the one of the two publications loyal to Rome, Fr. John Emerson gives more background as to the establishment of FSSP:

It came into being on July 18th, 1988, at a meeting at the Cistercian Abbey of Hauterive near Fribourg, Switzerland. We met there — I wasn’t yet a member, so I wasn’t there — the Society met there, about 10 priests and a number of seminarians, all of them, except one or two, persons who had just left the Society of St. Pius X because of the schismatic consecration of four bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre.[1]

Keep in mind that FSSP says rightly: The Fraternity was founded in response to the Holy Father’s (JPII’s) call to ecclesial unity and the new evangelization.[2]

Despite the accusations of modernism and break with Tradition from the SSPX against Rome, it is clear across the board that SSPX must repent and return to the House of God and not vice versa.

[1] Fr. John Emerson. The Wanderer. St. Paul, MN: 1990 http://realromancatholic.com/2013/07/14/fr-john-emerson-fssp-speaks-on-the-original-sspx-break-with-rome/

[2] https://fssp.com