Cardinal: St. John Paul II Foresaw Challenges Facing World Today
Saint John Paul II served as pope for 26 years until his death in 2005, publishing 14 encyclicals and making pastoral visits to 129 countries.
KRAKOW, Poland — St. John Paul II accurately predicted the problems facing the world today, his longtime personal secretary said Friday, the anniversary of the Polish pope’s election.
In an essay marking the election on Oct. 16, 1978, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz said that John Paul II was accused of being out of touch with the world following the collapse of communism.
“Today, however, 15 years after he left for the House of the Father, we can see with what perspicacity he was analyzing the reality, and how accurate were his predictions of the problems we are facing today,” he wrote in the Polish newspaper Wszystko Co Najważniejsze (All that Really Matters).
John Paul II served as pope for 26 years until his death in 2005, publishing 14 encyclicals and making pastoral visits to 129 countries. This year, the centenary of his birth is being marked by events in Rome and Poland.
Cardinal Dziwisz, the former archbishop of Kraków, recalled that the pope did not share in the euphoria when the Iron Curtain fell and commentators spoke of “the end of history.”
“The events that followed have proved John Paul II right: not only had he accurately diagnosed the illnesses afflicting the Western world, but he was also able to point to remedies,” he said.
“In his opinion, the world’s future will not be decided on battlefields but, above all, in the bosom of families, and it will depend on the quality of relations with our loved ones. For this reason, he elevated studies on the phenomenon of the family to the rank of an academic science. The theology of the body he developed became an in-depth, comprehensive, and tested response to the identity crisis we are currently witnessing in the sphere of human sexuality.”
The 81-year-old cardinal argued that John Paul II also had a remarkable connection with young people.
He wrote: “John Paul II was the first world leader to identify young people as a separate social group, and addressed his message to them on the occasion of cyclical World Youth Days and numerous meetings with young people held during his pilgrimages around the world.”
“In this way he helped to raise an entire generation of young people with no fathers and no masters in life; he taught them what maturation essentially is: discovering one’s own identity, vocation, meaning and purpose in life.”
Cardinal Dziwisz said that John Paul II responded to the atomization of Western society by emphasizing “solidarity as a fundamental rule of collective life.”
“It seems that the philosophical principle that has governed the order of his attitude to the world was personalism, building one’s life primarily on personal relationships, first of all with the person of God himself, and then with other people,” he wrote.
“Such an approach excludes any instrumentalisation of the person used for mercantilist or political ends. It was from this point of view that John Paul II judged various sociological and economic systems, analyzing whether they did degrade a human being into a mere role of producer or consumer.”
In an article in the same publication, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, hailed John Paul II as “a tireless defender of the right to life,” describing his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae as “a manifesto of the defenders of life.”
The archbishop of Poznań also said that John Paul II’s 1999 “Letter to the Elderly” highlighted a “dramatic change” in Western civilization.
“In the past, the elderly were surrounded by deep respect. Today, ‘the idea of euthanasia has lost for many people the sense of horror which it naturally awakens in those who have a sense of respect for life.’ It is therefore possible to make polite conversations about putting ‘useless’ people to death and still consider oneself a person of ‘high society,’” he wrote.