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On John Paul The Great, Eternal Truths, And Rejecting Fear

26 April 2014 @ 18:25

Truth can never be confined to time and culture; in history it is known, but it also reaches beyond history.

—Pope John Paul The Great, Fides et Ratio

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exodus, 3:14

I was not surprised that John Paul met the requirements of Sainthood rapidly, for it was evident from his first public appearance on the balcony of Saint Peter’s that Karol Wojtyla was a man chosen of God to walk the Earth in His name, reminding all Mankind of the importance of Eternal Truths — that they existed and were eternal — and that the greatest Truth was still as was declared by God to Moses on Mount Sinai: ‘I am that I am’.  Knowing that God exists means, ultimately, one does not have to fear living life for God is always with us — He is our strength and our salve.  This is why, I believe, John Paul said on the balcony: ‘Be not afraid’.

Mark Steyn on the canonization and the man:

As The New York Times reported upon his death:

Among liberal Catholics, he was criticized for his strong opposition to abortion, homosexuality and contraception…

Shocking: a Pope who’s opposed to abortion, homosexuality and contraception; what’s the world coming to? The Guardian’s assertion that Karol Wojtyla was “a doctrinaire, authoritarian pontiff” at least suggests the inflexible authoritarian derived his inflexibility from some ancient operating manual – he was doctrinaire about his doctrine, dogmatic about his dogma – unlike the Times and The Washington Post, which came close to implying that John Paul II had taken against abortion and gay marriage off the top of his head, principally to irk “liberal Catholics”. But, either way, the assumption is always that there’s some middle ground a less “doctrinaire” pope might have staked out: he might have supported abortion in the first trimester, say, or reciprocal partner benefits for gays in committed relationships.

The root of the Pope’s thinking – that there are eternal truths no-one can change even if he wanted to – is completely incomprehensible to the progressivist mindset. There are no absolute truths, everything’s in play, and by “consensus” all we’re really arguing is the rate of concession to the inevitable: abortion’s here to stay, gay marriage will be here any day now – it’s all gonna happen anyway, man, so why be the last squaresville daddy-o on the block?

When Governor Jim McGreevey announced he was stepping down, he told the people of New Jersey: “My truth is that I am a gay American.” That’s a very contemporary formulation: “my” truth. To John Paul II, there was only “the” truth. To the moral relativists, everyone’s entitled to his own – or, as the Governor continued, “one has to look deeply into the mirror of one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world.” Among liberal “Catholics” in Manhattan and Boston, the pontiff may be a reactionary misogynist homophobe condom-banner but, beyond those stunted horizons, he was a man fully engaged with the modern world and shrewder at reconciling it with the splendor of the eternal truth than most politicians. Western liberals claim the Pope’s condom hang-ups have had tragic consequences in Aids-riddled Africa. The Dark Continent gets darker every year: millions are dying, male life expectancy is collapsing, and such civil infrastructure as there is seems likely to follow. But the most effective weapon against the disease has not been the Aids lobby’s 20-year promotion of condom culture in Africa but Uganda’s campaign to change behaviour and to emphasise abstinence and fidelity – ie, the Pope’s position. You don’t have to be a Catholic or a “homophobe” to think that the spread of Aids is telling us something basic – that nature is not sympathetic to sexual promiscuity. If it weren’t Aids, it would be something else, as it has been for most of human history. What should be the Christian response? To accept that we’re merely the captives of our appetites, like a dog in heat? Or to ask us to rise to the rank God gave us – “a little lower than the angels” but above “the beasts of the field”? In The Gospel Of Life, the Pope wrote:

Sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited: …it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts. Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated…

Had the Pope signed on to condom distribution in Africa, he would have done nothing to reduce the spread of Aids, but he would have done a lot to advance the further artificial separation of sex, in Africa and beyond. Indeed, if you look at The New York Times’ list of complaints against the Pope they all boil down to what he called sex as self-assertion.

Thoughtful atheists ought to be able to recognize that, whatever one’s tastes in these areas, the Pope is on to something – that abortion et al, in separating the “two meanings” of sex and leaving us free to indulge in one while ignoring the other, have severed us almost entirely and possibly irreparably from traditional impulses, like societal survival. Given what Aids has done to African mortality rates and what abortion has done to European demographics, John Paul II’s eternal truths look a lot more rational than those of the hyperrationalists at The New York Times. John Paul II championed the “splendor of truth” not because he was rigid and inflexible, but because he understood the alternative was a dead end in every sense. To Karol Wojtyla, truth was not just splendid but immutable: he proved his point in the struggle against Communism; one day the west will recognize that he got it right closer to home, too.

We live in an age where the Eternal Truths are under relentless attack, where they are denigrated and slandered every moment of every day somewhere in the world.

John Paul The Great understood this and spent the whole of his Papacy trying to open our eyes to this fact and remind us of our duty to resist Evil, within this World and within ourselves.

He also sought to make us comprehend, as Mark Steyn reminds us in his post, of Veritatis Splendor – The Splendor Of Truth.

He also, through his speeches and his writings and his actions, sought to remind us of The Splendor Of Life.

You need not be Catholic to embrace John Paul.  He spoke to all peoples.

As we continue to face the Evil that is seeking to encompass The Camp Of The Saints And The Beloved City be must always remember that we are not alone as we suffer and we die.

‘Be not afraid!’

 

2 Comments
  1. 26 April 2014 @ 22:47 22:47

    While I am a Protestant, I understand the meaning behind what John Paul II was trying here. We need to understand that truth is an absolute, and that sexual mores are a deep matter that we should be reluctant to change.

  2. 28 April 2014 @ 10:25 10:25

    Reblogged this on Pixie Place II and commented:
    Beautiful. Thanks, Bob.

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