April 8, 2005


Greatness Is By Nature Enigmatic (Paul J. Cella, 04/08/2005, Tech Central Station)

It is understandable that there would be serious confusion in properly evaluating a man such a Karol Wojtyla. For one thing greatness is by nature enigmatic -- and there can be no doubt that John Paul II was a great man. But more importantly, this confusion derives from the decay and dissolution of our politics, which accompanies the decay and dissolution of the modern age. Thus we discover (or at least, the media has discovered) that while John Paul was fairly orthodox in his theology, and while he firmly opposed Communism, he also tended toward a certain religious or sentimental Liberalism. Theologically John Paul II was indeed orthodox, which in the dominant terminology of Liberalism can only mean that he was a "traditionalist." In fact theological orthodoxy is not traditionalism but simply Christianity.

But outside of core Catholic doctrine -- doctrine, it should be noted, that a pope has no authority to change -- it is difficult to call him anything but a Liberal: While no pacifist, and loyal to the Just War tradition, his pronouncements on war placed him squarely in opposition to most conflicts. His apologies for past Christian sins, though in many ways magnificent and wholly just, were extravagant gestures indeed, leaving one with the impression that the Church had condemned events that needed no condemnation. When visiting the United States he argued that mass immigration was a duty for wealthy countries like America, and that the Culture of Life required solidarity with not only "the elderly, the infirm, the unborn," but also, discordantly, the immigrant. He was a tireless ecumenist, both within Christianity and outside it, which caused many to wonder whether he was minimizing theological and philosophical differences of the utmost gravity, and attenuating, ever so slightly, the imperative distinction between truth and falsehood. His particular solicitude for Islam, at a time when Christians everywhere need to be reminded of the great struggle their fathers waged against this most relentless rival and foe, from Manzikert to Jerusalem, from Tours to Vienna, in retrospect seems unfortunate and demoralizing.

In short, John Paul seemed to embody the kind of disorder that the end of the modern age augurs for our politics. Conservatives adored him despite his Liberalism, even cited his Liberalism as justifying their admiration; while Liberals, ignoring his agreement with them on so much, despised him for his unwillingness to open the Church to the full "spirit of Vatican II."

Nothing better demonstrates the adulthood of conservatives and the childishness of the Left than that the Right could deal with their occassional disagreements with the Pope while liberals couldn't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 8, 2005 6:57 PM
Comments for this post are closed.