Liberalism as Catholic Social Teaching: The Case of Józef Tischner

Michal Luczweski

Abstract


Karol Wojtyła, in a conversation with Vittorio Possenti, described Catholic Social Teaching (hereafter ‘CST’) as a ‘revolution of the Spirit’ that will make the world more humane. In CST ethics comes before politics and economics—justice before effectiveness. The foundation for engaging in this-worldly matters is reliable conscience and a readiness to witness to the truth, that is, a readiness to sacrifice. Wojtyła saw the strength and originality of CST in its joining of Gospel hope with the realism expressed by the teaching of original sin.
For Wojtyła the most important test of Catholic theory is Catholic practice; bringing forth good fruit. According to Possenti, practice is precisely where the teaching of the Church is ailing most. Wojtyła did not agree with such criticism and invoked his own experience as a worker during the German occupation and his experience of cooperation with workers in communist Poland. Three months after this conversation Wojtyła unexpectedly became the head of the universal Church. A year later he made his first pilgrimage to Poland and launched a flood of enthusiasm that made Solidarity burst upon the scene. Here was the proof Possenti wanted: a ten-million movement of workers that became a national movement; a national movement that changed the face of Europe. Solidarityprovided the best test for the theory in this way.

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