Oct 7, 2021
It’s sometimes said Pope St. John Paul II was the most intellectually gifted occupant of the See of Peter ever, but inasmuch as the line of popes stretches back two millennia and includes some known to history only by their names, there is no realistic way of verifying that.
What is certain, though, is that Karol Wojtyla was an original thinker who made important and lasting contributions to the Catholic intellectual tradition.
Partly his intellectual stature reflects the time he spent in the 1950s and 1960s as a member of the philosophy faculty at Poland’s University of Lublin – an era when, one commentator remarks, the Lublin philosophers were considered to be “among the most creative anywhere.”
And in part it reflects not just the remarkable volume of his output as pope – 14 encyclicals as well as literally hundreds of other important documents – but also its highly original contents. One thinks, for instance, of the Wednesday audience addresses in which he set out a new, much discussed “theology of the body” as well as the many expositions of his distinctive personalism.