Rocco Buttiglione: The Work That Was John Paul The Great

It is simply not possible to speak of greatness without referring to Karol Wojtyla (pronounced Why-tee-wah), otherwise known as John Paul II.  No other person than Rocco Buttiglione, Professor of politics, social ethics and economics at the International Academy for Philosophy in Liechtenstein (pronounced Lick-ten-stein) has grasped the significance that was John Paul II.  He continues to pour out treatises inviting readers to enjoy the work of a new philosophy of man; to participate in the work of its construction, which was initiated by Karol Wojtyla during the 1950’s, but only to see its culmination in other writers like Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri De Lubac.

Karol Wojtyla interprets this new philosophy of man as perfecting the tradition so eloquently elaborated upon by Aquinas, as Thomist realism, one that never denies individual identity, conscience or objectivity, but permits their expression and perfection along trajectories that was discovered in modern philosophy.  Pope John Paul The Great pursued thinking to see in which way man is a person, in which way the metaphysical structure proper to his being are reflected in his consciousness.  To think about consciousness and freedom, the twin discoveries of modern philosophy.  All without renouncing the realism of being as expressed by Aquinas.

In this project, human freedom itself, opens itself to this discovery that is a binding truth; the truth of being a creature.  The truth that is human liberty.  John Paul The Great has written that “consciousness and freedom have the the task of making the interiorization of truth and the gift of self in love, possible.”  This has profound social implications for those writers who believed that modern man was incapable of managing his future!  (See my posts on Churchill and Raymond Aron, Eric Fromm,  Huxley and George Orwell.)

How else can one reveal the power that was John Paul II.  What exactly did he wish to achieve?


For Wojtyla and many throughout the Eastern block that fervently embraced the secular humanism that was Marxism, it ultimately became necessary to discover that faith itself assists the person in the discovery of humanness.  Faith becomes an attitude that shapes the fundamental dispositions of existence.  This is a profound difference from the modern focus on disembodied forces.  For Wojtyla, the human person is a dependent creature that must live in accordance to its nature, or to put it philosophically:  in accordance with the structure of their being.

John Paul decided early in his life to give himself over to the task of overcoming the opposition between modernity and Christianity.  He desperately wanted to show, to demonstrate that a philosophy of being and Christianity were able to do justice to consciousness and freedom.

“The one who loves us, wants for the beloved a greater good than his love is capable of giving, that perfect happiness which is God himself.”

Rest in Peace, Johannes Magus Palus.

About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
This entry was posted in Hans Urs von Balthasar, Identity Development, John Paul II, Morality, Mysticism, Philosophy, Pope Benedict XVI, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Rocco Buttiglione: The Work That Was John Paul The Great

  1. De Lubac was/is one of my favorite R. Catholic theolog’s. I have several of his works. I was reading my copy of the Theology In History the other day. And John Paul liked him very much.

  2. Dear Fr. Robert, I am posting my essay ‘tonight’ on a critique of Eastern Orthodoxy, made especially for you. I hope its good ‘food for thought’ as you end your summer. I also have to email it to Father Steve (the Orthodox Priest), look for it tonight.

  3. William,

    Thanks mate, I look forward to it!

  4. Roy S. Tenn says:

    Very interesting commentary on Pope John Paul, II as regards his writing on humanism based on the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was famous for his writings of the Summa Theologica, but perhaps his great legacy was based on his influence by St. Louis Marie de Montfort after reading “True Devotion to Mary,” and also his study of St. John of the Cross when he was sent to study theology at the Pontifical International Athenaecum Angeliicum, where he earned a licentiate and later a doctorate in sacred theology. This doctorate was the first of two based on the Latin disssertation,The Doctrine of the Faith According to Saint John of the Cross.

  5. Yes, you’re correct to cite so many formidable sources. I was always happy to see John Paul elaborate on John of the Cross, most especially his theology against the dominate feature to view grace in extrinsic terms, for that John of the Cross was indispensable. I hope you read more of what I’ve written.

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