Tuesday, August 19, 2008

-- Coming Attractions --

Following our recent discussion of Humanae Vitae, and following the 30th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Pope Paul VI, in the coming weeks we will be noting the 30th anniversary of the election of Albino Cardinal Luciani as Pope John Paul the First (August 26), exploring the thought and teachings of the Holy Father known as "the Smiling Pope." Of course, his papacy was all too brief, lasting only 33 days before he died of a heart attack on September 28, 1978.

But as sad as his premature death was, it nevertheless opened the door to the election of one of the "great" popes, a man who was a steadfast rock in stormy times, Karol Józef Wojtyla, who took the name Pope John Paul the Second in honor of his beloved predecessor. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of his election on October 16, we will begin a discussion of his thought and writings, including his "Theology of the Body," which, among other things, expanded upon the work of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae.

The observant reader will have noticed that various elements of the Theology of the Body have already been discussed in these pages in the past in various contexts, albeit implicitly. In the coming months, we will engage in a more explict exploration of the Theology of the Body (although it is perhaps best considered not as being an isolated stand-alone teaching, much less a stand-alone teaching on human sexuality, but is best understood as being in the context of the greater questions regarding man and God, as well as the greater context of the Church's teachings as a whole, and thus, that is how it has heretofore been presented). The ideas and concepts of the Theology of the Body permeate much of John Paul II's teachings and, thus, if one has read his writings, he or she may already be familiar with his Theology of the Body without even realizing it. In addition to this magnum opus of John Paul the Great (santo subito), we will be reviewing some of his other monumental teachings.

On a historical note, it is of interest to learn that, although Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger both attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, they did not meet then, but actually met for the first time only much later, during the pre-conclave period in the vacancy of the Apostolic See, following the death of Pope Paul VI, 30 years ago.

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