Pope John Paul II, 1978-

Gerald Darring


Vernon Ruland, S.J. "The Catholic Double Standard." Christian Century 98 (16 December 1981) 1311. "Even before Pope John Paul II completed his vigorous American tour, many auditors had dropped breathless behind, straining to reconcile two voices that sounded so disparate. There was first his gracious reprieve addressed to all humankind: pleas for brotherhood, social justice, peace, an end to the arms race. He was reaching out to show respect, his sermon delivered in Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral stated, 'beyond the limit of the Catholic faith, even beyond all religion--for man, for the humanity that is in every human being.' But by this time a second voice had emerged--dour, specific, more parochial. It censured contraception in Catholic marriages, selfish divorce, the excessive claims of feminism, the sly erosions of celibacy and religious vows."

Paul Johnson. Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Restoration (1981) 97. "There were two points he was determined to hammer home. First, the church has always been interested in social and economic conditions, has clear views about, and is continually updating them--as, for instance, in the question of land reform. Hence he repeatedly emphasized the continuity of Catholic social teaching.... John Paul becomes impatient at the suggestion that the church is a late and reluctant warrior on the field of social reform; it has always been there. Secondly, he does not think the church should shy away from radical solutions at times; but when it embraces them it must do so in unity, using its established processes of consultation and chains of command."

James V. Schall, S.J. Oliver F. Williams, C.S.C., and John W. Houck, eds. The Judeo-Christian Vision and the Modern Corporation. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982, p. 127. "Generally, John Paul II has taken the view that there are certain deficiencies in the present international order. He has, however, insisted on a specifically Catholic social approach that is neither Marxist nor liberal in emphasis or origins. Following Catholic tradition, John Paul II has argued that the spiritual principle that is 'new' in the world should and can lead to a better order, one authentically human, even though it need not do so."

Thomas Sieger Derr. Barriers to Ecumenism. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1983, pp. 15-16. "This conception of the Church as separated from the temporal order is reflected in John Paul's repeated insistence that priests and nuns be a caste apart.... John Paul claims that the direction he has charted is not a reversal of or recoil from the so-called openness of the Church to the world set in motion by the Second Vatican Council, especially the council's talk of the common priesthood of the laity. But to many observers it appears to be just such a turning back to otherworldiness, a conception in which many of the pope's themes--insistence on discipline and loyalty to the pontiff, movement to restrain dissent, emphasis on clerical celibacy as permanent, restrictions on the laicization of those who wish to leave the priesthood, prohibition of non-Catholic Christians from the Eucharist, and limits on the forms for mixed marriages--all combine with the general themes of separation of the Church from the world to form a consistent picture."

David Hollenbach, S.J. In Houck and Williams, eds. Co-Creation and Capitalism (1983), pp. 59-77; at pp. 74-75. "John Paul II gives primacy to a style of theology which is more metaphysical and ontological over theological approaches which are more historical and social. This approach is quite capable of denouncing all situations which do not conform to the structure of human personhood as this structure is discerned through ontological analysis. Its danger, however, is that it will lack the categories which are necessary to guide action in non-ideal circumstances."

Peter Hebblethwaite. Religion and America (1983) 282. Paul VI was right when he said in Octogesima Adveniens that it is difficult to give one teaching that covers all situations or to offer universally valid solutions. "But John Paul regards such an attitude as defeatest and fainthearted. That is why he needs a revived Catholic social doctrine as a form of universal teaching on social questions. He is unwilling to relinquish this task to the local churches."

Giuseppe Chiarante. Telos (Winter 1983-84) 80-81. "John Paul II's papacy is different. Wojtyla's goal is much more ambitious than a mere restoration. It is rather the attempt to exploit the Catholic Church's new energies, acquired through the Council's organizational and cultural reforms, to pursue a new role as a great 'moral power' in the world. In so doing, the Church can also exploit the strength deriving from her institutional continuity. The Pope's plan focuses primarily on anthropological teaching and socio-ethical problems. It is not accidental that the topic emphasized by John Paul II is not the formulation of economic and social answers conforming with Christian principles (in which case we would have a return to 'Catholic social doctrine') but 'Christian humanism' as the basis for the protection of human values. Wojtyla's 'Christian' anthropology is certainly up to date, is based on the conclusions of the Council debate, and takes into account various currents of modern culture from Hegelianism to Marxism, phenomenology, and existentialism. The Council debate is seen as closed, and the resulting 'Christian humanism' is presented once again as adequate to answer all problems of contemporary life on its own and with no need of help by 'other humanisms.' This is the basis of that 'certainty' which characterizes Wojtyla's teaching and his conviction that the Council has cured all the shortcomings the Church had in confronting the modern world."

Kenneth Leech. "Some Recent Trends in Catholic Social Theology" (1985) 371. "It seems that John Paul wishes to revive the idea of 'Catholic social doctrine' as an alternative to liberation theology.... This return of social doctrine language has gone hand in hand with a decline in the language of 'discerning the signs of the times.' The Pope's approach is deductive and didactic: he knows the answers in advance, and lectures the Catholic world, including that large and growing section of it in Latin America, as to what the answers should be. It is less clear that he has listened to the questions."

Ron Darwen, S.J. "Look Back on Gaudium et Spes." Month (1985) 392. "He is well aware that political intervention is the only way to reform and he wants to put the voice of the Church behind those who are struggling for justice; the Church must make a preferential option for the poor, realizing that the voice of God may be expressed in their cries. There is no doubt in my mind that John Paul is a radical when it comes to his socio-economic outlook on the world. Whether he is in other areas is another issue."

John T. Pawlikowski, O.S.M. "Modern Catholic Teaching on the Economy" (1986) 18-19. John Paul II sees the primary focus of economic change in the human dignity of the worker rather than in the faith of the worker. He sees work for economic justice as a way of manifesting Christ to the world and making visible the human dignity inherent in the theology of the Word-made-flesh. "We have come full circle from Leo XIII's concern that continuing economic injustice might erode the faith of the European working classes. We are back to a link between faith and economic justice ... but one that is integral rather than consequential."

Drew Christiansen. Social Thought (Spring-Summer 1987) 69-70. "In John Paul's Augustinian view of history, secular virtues need to be transformed by a faith-based charity if they are to have any worth at all. The Council's view that the Spirit works in all peoples, in non-believers as well as believers, is neglected. The interpenetration of Church and World taught by the Council is set aside. As a result, the Church is the privileged, exclusive locus of Christ's redemptive work in the world, and its role is primarily one of prophetic denunciation."

Joe Holland. Social Thought (Spring-Summer 1987) 89. "John Paul asserts that modern culture is in crisis. In his view, since politics follows culture, and since modern culture is in crisis, the primary task is not to struggle politically within the modern framework, but to seek transformation at the cultural root."

Alfred T. Hennelly, S.J. "A Spirituality for the World Church" (14 May 1988) 503. "John Paul's major effort has been to articulate as clearly as possible and to commend to all religious people, as well as to all persons of good will, one overriding concern: the urgent need today for a new spirituality for the world church. This is far more important in the long run than his social analysis, although that analysis is certainly arguable."

Penny Lernoux. People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism. New York: Viking, 1989, p. 51. Vatican II had encouraged local churches to develop their own responses to different realities, and Paul VI in Octogesima Adveniens had offered not specific suggestions but critical/prophetic values which could be used by individual churches to apply in their own societies. "John Paul, on the contrary, wished to homogenize church teaching on social questions so that there would be a Roman Catholic formula for every eventuality.... Nevertheless, local churches found that they could read what they wanted into John Paul's encyclicals."

"The Enormity of 'Real World' Capitalism's Myth." National Catholic Reporter (29 March 1991) 28. "In one sense, if the Sermon on the Mount and papal socioeconomic encyclicals are two bars in a two-rail hurdle that capitalism's defenders find hard to jump, then John Paul II keeps raising the top rail."

Bruce F. Duncan. Lutheran Theological Journal (August 1991) 124. "Pope John Paul sees the present moment as a providential opportunity to refashion a more just and more humane world. He sees this not as a utopian dream, but as the fundamental Christian demand to prefigure the Kingdom which God will give at the end of time."

John Langan, S.J. "Solidarity, Sin, Common Good, and Responsibility for Change in Contemporary Society" (1991) 275. Pope John Paul II's social encyclicals "have puzzled many people in English-speaking cultures in the academic, public policy, and business arenas. They have appeared as signs of encouragement to many on the left who are often out of sympathy with much that the present Pope says on moral and religious issues, and as signs of contradiction to many on the right who applaud his opposition to Marxism and liberal permissiveness."

"The Conflict Over Conflict in the Catholic Church." National Catholic Reporter (5 June 1992) 20. John Paul's "anti-Marxist background makes him allergic to the term class. He prefers to describe the 'just social reaction' that creates a movement of solidarity among exploited workers as an ethical problem.... There is a problem, nevertheless, about his intransigent refusal to recognize the role of class in social relations. It suggests that the concept of class struggle was copyrighted by Marx once and for all, so that anyone who accepts it is inescapably a Marxist."

George E. McCarthy and Royal W. Rhodes. Eclipse of Justice (1992) 174-175. "John Paul's general approaches ... are characterized by principles that are personalist (the dignity of the person over what is falsely assumed as the natural order), antideterminist (where relations are not taken as given but as the changeable products of human history), communitarian (against egoism, possessiveness, and class antagonism), decentralist in power (against monopoly capitalism and collectivist socialism), and evolutionist in attaining justice (in which 'ideals' are only approximations spurring continued human decision and acting)."

Michael L. Budde. The Two Churches: Catholicism and Capitalism in the World System. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992, pp. 18-19. "Within Catholicism, the core/periphery split is most pronounced in the realm of social ethics, more specifically in different evaluations of the international economic order.... The role of the Vatican in this core/periphery clash remains ambiguous.... The Vatican's role is further complicated by the enigmatic personality and agenda of the current pope. John Paul II is clearly a centralizing, power-collecting prelate; his administrative conservatism fits poorly, however, with his economic progressivism.... His appointments to vacant dioceses (especially in Latin America) have been 'conservative,' more in terms of those bishops' degree of deference to Rome (nearly total) than in the content of their views on political economy. Further complicating matters, the present pope vigorously, almost vehemently, rejects the suggestion that class conflict might exist within the Church itself."

David Willey. God's Politician (1992) 199. "Until Pope John Paul's reign, no one had ever dared to suggest that Vatican employees had enforceable labor rights. Notwithstanding the Pope's commitment to workers' rights expressed in his 1981 encyclical Laborem Exercens, it took ten years of negotiations for him finally to agree to set up his own labor office.... In 1981 the Pope had rather offhandedly written to his Secretary of State about the prospects for organized labor inside his kingdom, 'It is not part of the social doctrine of the Church for this type of organization to indulge in strike action or class struggle, or to serve the interests of any political party."

Michael Novak. The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1993) 106. "As Leo XIII won the name 'pope of associations' for himself because he made free associations central to his social teaching, so 100 years from now, John Paul II may be accorded fame as 'the pope of economic enterprise,' because he made 'personal economic initiative' central to his social teaching."


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Williams, Oliver P., and John W. Houck, eds. The Making of an Economic Vision: John Paul II's On Social Concern. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991. See Richard T. DeGeorge, "Decoding the Pope's Social Encyclicals," pp. 24-43. J. Philip Wogaman, "The Economic Encyclicals of Pope John Paul II: Theological and Economic Perspectives," pp. 44-66. J. Bryan Hehir, "John Paul II and the International System," pp. 67-73. Michael Novak, "Countering the Adversary Culture," pp. 99-120. Robert Benne, "John Paul II's Challenge to Democratic Capitalism or Be Still and Know That I Am the Pope," pp. 121-38. Dennis P. McCann, "The Unconstrained Vision of John Paul II or How to Resist the Temptation of an Economic Counterculture," pp. 139-62. Ricardo Ramirez, "The Catholic Challenge to the United States Culture: The Social Teachings of John Paul II," pp. 163-75. Preston Williams, "African-American Perspectives on the Social Teachings of John Paul II," pp. 176-85. Ernest J. Bartell, C.S.C., "John Paul II and International Development," pp. 217-239. James E. Post, "Managerial Responsibility and Socioeconomic Systems: Assessing the Papal Encyclicals," pp. 312-31. Teresa Ghilarducci, "John Paul II and American Workers in the Emerging Fourth World," pp. 361-376.

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"The Social Teachings of Pope John Paul II." Social Thought 13 (Spring-Summer 1987) 6-167. Contains: Thomas P. Doyle, "The Dignity of the Human Person in the Thought of John Paul II," pp. 6-19. James Donahue, "The Social Theology of John Paul II and His Understanding of Social Institutions," pp. 20-34. Stephen H. Gratto, "To Live the Beatitudes: Parish Social Ministry in the Teaching of John Paul II," pp. 35-45. Helen Ginsburg, "Teachings of John Paul II on Work and the Rights of Workers," pp. 46-59. Drew Christiansen, "Social Justice and Consumerism in the Thought of Pope John Paul II," pp. 60-73. Lisa Sowle Cahill, "Women, Respect for Life and the Church in the United States," pp. 74-86 Joe Holland, "John Paul II on the Laity in Society: The Spiritual Transformation of Modern Culture," pp. 87-103. Edward B. Branch, "Justice, Liberation Theology and Black Catholics," pp. 104-19. Virgil P. Elizondo, "The Ministry of the Church and Contemporary Migration," pp. 120-32. Mary Rose Oakar, "John Paul II and Family Policy," pp. 133-38. Edward J. Ryle, "Option for the Poor in Catholic Charities Policy and the Social Teaching of Pope John Paul II," pp. 139-50. John M. Grondelski, "The Social Thought of Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II: A Bibliographical Essay," pp. 151-67.