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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

New book by St John Paul shows early political, social philosophy

A new two-volume manuscript on political and social philosophy, authored by St John Paul II in the 1950s, will dispel views of him as “an intellectual cut off from social concerns” and clarify his lifelong stance on political and ideological issues, said the book’s editor.

The 120,000-word collection by then-Fr Karol Wojtyla, released for the first time, is expected to require the updating of biographies and reinterpretation of aspects of St John Paul’s teaching.

Katolicka Etyka Spoleczna (The Catholic Social Ethic) shows Fr Wojtyla “had a deep knowledge of social problems in the 1940s and 1950s and was looking for a key to solve them; while he was convinced a world shaped by capitalism was a bad world, he also saw how communism had made simplistic promises of social change,” said Fr Alfred Wierzbicki, one of the book’s editors.

“This may well affect wider interpretations of his teaching. At the very least, it reveals there are really very few differences between St John Paul II and Pope Francis on social questions,” he said.

Agnieszka Lekka-Kowalik, director of the John Paul II Institute at Poland’s Catholic University of Lublin, said the book would be “a new source for those researching his ideas, showing how they developed from Wojtyla the philosopher to Wojtyla the pope.”

Picture: This two-volume collection on political and social philosophy by Fr Karol Wojtyla, now St. John Paul II, was published for the first time by his former Catholic university in Poland. (CNS photo/Jonathan Luxmoore).