John Paul II Brightens the Earth with His Holiness and Truth | Fr. Zbigniew Tyburski, Ph.D. | HPR
Engaged so deeply in earthly human affairs and believing in each persons’ goodness, John Paul seems to be calling us from heaven with a special request for solidarity of those who live on earth, and those living, though yet unborn.
Being a significant thinker and a moral conscience to the world, Karol Wojtyla—who from 1978 to 2005 was known as Pope John Paul II—provided a clear diagnosis of the moral sickness of man in modern society. At the same time, he drafted a long-term outline for the spiritual and moral renewal that he consequently implemented into the practice of the Church’s life, through all 27 years of his papacy, despite the criticism he faced.
Based on his philosophy that the human being is the pillar of society on its most fundamental level, John Paul II began to strongly promote the concept of “personhood” in the modern world. He reminded us that each human life is sacred, and that men are characterized by a free will and a conscience, both granted by God.
In his first pastoral visit to America, during his homily at Mass on the Washington Mall on October 7, 1979, John Paul said the following words: “I do not hesitate to proclaim before you and before the world that all human life—from the moment of conception and through all subsequent stages— is sacred, because human life is created in the image and likeness of God.” He then strongly underlined his point: “We will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life …” (Homily, No. 3 & 6).
The two most important factors by which the human being is characterized are conscience and freedom. Some people recognize conscience as an “inner voice” in the human heart based on natural moral law, by which a person is able to distinguish good from evil, and truth from fallacy. This is a proper understanding, but John Paul II expands upon this definition of the conscience by adding that it is the “most secret core” and our innermost “sanctuary” in which we are “alone with God” to listen to his voice (Tyburski 95). Our conscience, the inner voice from God in every human heart, is the foundation of Christian morality. However, John Paul strongly underlines that “conscience is no lawmaker.” Conscience itself does not create norms, but discovers them from God’s laws.
John Paul II was aware that in the modern secular world, many people have disfigured their consciences, and have false philosophies of human freedom, because of the crisis of truth.