The extraordinary achievements of Blessed Pope John Paul II show that such a thing as historical inevitability does not exist. The situation does not have to be as it is, the curve of history can be bent toward a more humane way. This view was expressed by the best-selling author of biographies of the pope, world famous philosopher George Weigel during the International Symposium at UCU “The Church in the Twentieth Century: The Challenges of Ministry in a Globalized World.”
As part of the symposium the UCU publishing house presented a translation of Weigel’s new book “The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II - The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy,” which was a continuation and complement of the best seller “Witness to Hope.”
According to the philosopher, the Western world went through a deep anthropological crisis: “This crisis the pope considered to be basis and foundation of all the horrors of the twentieth century. The revolution of conscience, which he started, overthrew the largest tyranny in the world. This Karol Wojtyla achieved by talking not about politics, economics, philosophy, but about human truth.”
According to George Weigel, Western civilization has reached the point where it draws from its last spiritual and cultural resources: “What we call ‘Western civilization’ emerged from the fruitful interaction of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, that is, from biblical religion, Greek rationalism, and human rights. In the nineteenth century, the high Western culture rejected Jerusalem. It seems that the next will be Athens.”
Accordingly, if to discard the Judeo-Christian understanding that God gave man fundamental reason, then reason begins to doubt its ability to know the truth. “In the best case there is yours and my truth, but no absolute truth, which will lead to a decline in the rule of law.”
Therefore, the philosopher outlines a new task for the church: to again establish connections and connect Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome in a new cultural synthesis that will give humanity a new understanding of freedom.
“The Ukrainian Catholic University has global significance: what is being built here will affect the entire global culture and the Catholic Church. I am grateful to my colleagues for translating my work into Ukrainian. I hope that it will help you build a free and virtuous society here in Ukraine,” he said.
Other speakers at the International Symposium were Bishop Borys Gudziak, rector of UCU and the Bishop of the Paris Eparchy; Myroslav Marynovych, human rights activist, journalist, religious studies expert, vice rector of university mission; Viktor Yelenskyi, Catholic University professor, president of the Ukrainian Association of Religious Freedom; Oleh Turiy, UCU vice rector for research, Chair of Church History Department.