The next Synod would do well to emulate his style, at once clear and deeply moving
Pope Saint John Paul II was a prophet – as Tom Hoopes reminded us in his column yesterday – evidenced by the Pope’s writings on the indispensable role of marriage and families in building and preserving a civilization worthy of the human person.
Saint John Paul II was no less a poet. Today, in honor of his first feast day as our beloved saint and intercessor, I want to call to mind his gift of poetry – not his actual poems (profound and lyrical as they are) – but his unmatched ability to explain doctrine with both clarity and poetic images and language. It is the poetry that breathes immediacy and life – sometimes tender, sometimes powerful – and, really, the presence of God, into the teaching. John Paul marries catechesis and evangelization, truth and beauty, law and mercy, engaging both mind and heart as only a poet can. Let me give just a few examples.
Saint John Paul lucidly affirms doctrine: “The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder” (Evangelium Vitae [EV], 58), and “I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being” (EV, 62).
Yet he touches our hearts by speaking of unborn children in words like these:
He also shows tender compassion and encouragement for the mothers who have aborted a child:
He states the doctrine simply: “I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person” (EV, 65).
And he gets to the heart of what euthanasia is here:
Saint John Paul communicated the gravity of euthanasia both from the doctrinal perspective and from God’s perspective in his landmark March 20, 2004 allocution, “Address to the International Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State