George Weigel–John Paul II–The Pope Who Rescued Western Humanism

… it [does not] seem appropriate to call “premodern” one of the most intellectually engaged bishops in Europe in the years before and after Vatican II. Karol Wojtyla was a man who deliberately sought the intellectual companionship of philosophers, theologians, historians, scientists and artists from a wide range of intellectual perspectives; a man who, as both pastor and scholar, displayed a deep human sympathy for those caught in the modern crisis of belief; a man who was an avid reader of contemporary philosophy for more than a half century.

Then there is the record of the pontificate itself. Would a pope with a “premodern” intellectual perspective have written the first papal encyclical on Christian anthropology, making the renovation of Christian humanism the leitmotif and program of his pontificate? It seems unlikely.

Would a “premodern” pope have defended the universality of human rights before the United Nations in 1979 and 1995, while transforming the Catholic Church into perhaps the world’s foremost institutional promoter of the democratic project? It seems unlikely.

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