Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Pallium Lecture II: George Weigel on the legacy of John Paul II

On Monday night, I attended the second Pallium Lecture, given by George Weigel. He detailed ten things that this pope will be remembered for far into the future.

The full text of the first Pallium Lecture has been posted on the archmil website, and I am hopeful this one will be also --- I will post its link when it becomes available.

Some things Mr. Weigel spoke of that particularly struck me:

-----> Back in 1960, the commission in charge of preparations for the Ecumenical Council wrote every bishop in the world, seeking suggestions for the agenda. The responses to this request are the first 7 or 8 volumes of the Acts of the Council. Most of these responses are housekeeping details and laundry lists: change this rule, tweak that practice, let this or that dispensation be granted by the local ordinary without having to go to the Curia, etc., etc. One of them, however, stuck out of the crowd; it was no list of housekeeping details. The very junior auxiliary bishop of Krakow had sent in a philosophical treatise: Why had the twentieth century, which had started with so much promise, produced two world wars and dozens of local ones, three distinct totalitarian systems, and so on? He proposed that it was because the very idea of the human person had gone awry, and that the Council needed to rescue the idea of the worth of the human person, made in God's own image and redeemed by Christ. When he became pope, he wrote Redemptor hominis on just this subject, that so many years before he had proposed for the Ecumenical Council.

-----> In 1968, Pope Paul VI published Humanae vitae, which was prophetic in its assertions but which triggered a crisis in the Church. In addresses from 1979-1984, Pope John Paul II developed his response to this crisis in the form of a unified theology of the human body, with both philosophical and theological cores that are bombshells when taken seriously. Philosophically: There is a law of self-giving built into the nature of human beings. Human sex is not solely instinct bodily function, or such; but human sex is a manifestation of that self-giving love. Chastity makes us free to make this complete gift of self. Theologically: Humans and the world are sacramental in nature. Our embodiedness as male and female, and our mutuality, teach us about the nature of God. Married life is an icon of the internal life of the Trinity, and marital union is an act of worship. To sum it up, human sexuality is far greater than generally imagined.

-----> a few caught lines:
The Petrine office is an evangelical calling to be pastor, evangelizer, witness....._not_ the CEO of Catholicism, Inc.
Freedom is ordered to truth and finds its fulfilment in goodness.
Hope is not optimism; it is the assurance given by faith.
Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life.

The third and final Pallium Lecture will be on Tuesday the tenth, by Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ. I already have my van scheduled, only getting dumped in the hospital again will keep me away.

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