St. John Paul II Is More Relevant Than Ever, by John Hittinger

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(Photo credit: CNA / L’Osservatore Romano)

By John Hittinger, Crisis Magazine, March 1, 2019

An informative, comprehensive, well written and persuasive book, The Splendor of Marriage was published by Angelico Press to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968). In a culminating chapter, Richard Spinello lays out the argument of Humanae Vitae and makes it clear why the document is so central to Catholic doctrine and life. But this analysis is bolstered by a thorough account of St. John Paul II’s defense and elaboration of its central concepts and arguments. Through a well-developed Thomistic personalism, Pope John Paul II wrote some powerful and insightful accounts of love, marriage, and family. From his early treatise on Love and Responsibility, to various essays on love, marriage, and ethics, and his Person and Act, Cardinal Wojtyła used philosophical reason and phenomenology to clarify and defend the truth about the human good, particularly as it pertains to marriage and family. As pope he wrote various encyclicals and exhortations such as Familiaris Consortio, Letter to Families, Gospel of Life, Splendor of Truth, and his sustained meditations on human sexuality and marriage now compiled and called the theology of the body.

Drawing upon so many resources to make his case—the literary, the theological, philosophic, and phenomenological—John Paul II is rightly praised by his successor Pope Benedict as offering “a way of thinking in dialogue with the concrete, founded on the great tradition, but always in search of confirmation in present reality. It is a form of thought that springs from an artist’s gaze and, at the same time, it is guided by a pastor’s care…. This comprehension of man beginning not from abstractions and theoretical principles, but seeking to grasp his reality with love, was—and remains—decisive for the pope’s thought” (My Beloved Predecessor, pp. 8-9). Thus, Pope John Paul II must be credited with raising out of Humanae Vitae an exquisitely articulated and argued account of Catholic doctrine on marriage which displays the beauty and explains the rightness and goodness of a life lived out of profound respect for the gift of fertility. Those enemies of the Church without and the legion of dissenters within must continue to resort to caricature and reduction of Humanae Vitae to its prohibition of artificial contraception and to ignore its ample defense made by Wojtyła/John Paul II…..Read entire article…