October 18-20, 2002
volume 13, no. 119

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The Humanism of
John Paul II
    Part Fifteen:

A Plethora of Phenomenological Personalism

       "Basically, since Vatican II, and especially in the writings of John Paul II, instead of a clarification of teaching, we find obfuscation of the old and invention of novelty, together with plenty of convoluted phrases. Interestingly enough, it was Pope St. Pius X who, in his letter 'Our Apostolic Mandate,' observed that 'evil and error are presented in dynamic language which, concealing vague notions and ambiguous expressions with emotional and high-sounding words, is likely to set ablaze the hearts of men in pursuit of ideals which, whilst attractive, are none the less nefarious.' "
   On January 17, 2001, CNS News reported the following: "Pope John Paul II issues Call for Ecological Conversion . . . The world's people need to undergo an 'ecological conversion' to protect the environment and make the earth a place where all life is valued and can grow in harmony, Pope John Paul II said"

   Yes, that's how far we've come. Pope John Paul II, idly standing by as the Church in the USA has been infiltrated by homosexuals and perverts, calls us to convert ecologically. Pardon my human way of speaking here, but what the heck is the Pope doing beating the environmental drums while the Church is going to hell??!! Don't you think that's a bit of "misplaced priorities" here? Did Our Lady of Fatima appear in order to convert people ecologically so that natural disasters would be prevented?? Or did she not rather appear to ask for the conversion of sinners, that we turn from sin, so that God's punishment would not be meted out on the world? Now, Our Lady appeared in 1917 for the first time. May I ask: has the world gotten any better since then in terms of its sinfulness?

   A response to that need hardly be given. But the Church, starting from the top on down, has become totally twisted. We have a Supreme Pontiff now who, after all his scandals, sacrileges, blasphemies, and heresies now calls the faithful to ecological conversion. Yes, you got it: we have a "green" Pope! Just when you think you've heard and seen it all from John Paul II, something like this comes along. That's the same Pope who invited a Voodoo witchdoctor to share his thoughts on peace with Catholics. Beautiful. Surely, this must be the "new springtime" we keep hearing about. The Church has so blossomed in this "springtime" that worry about heresy can be replaced by worry about environmental issues. Heck, who cares if people are going to hell because they have followed a false gospel, as long as the trees are green! Of course there is no time to deal with the Novus Ordo bishops covering up for homosexual predator priests, when North Dakota's ladybugs have arthritis!

   In Australia, the bishops there have already called for a "green church." Salvation, they say, is not just for mankind, but for all of creation. I'm telling you, if this is not the Great Apostasy, then I sure don't want to be around when it gets here. You can read the story about the Australian green hippies here:

   Folks, ask yourselves: What's next? An encyclical on animal rights? A motu proprio on the dignity of flowers? An apostolic exhortation on how to avoid emitting carbon-monoxide? Please don't say it can't happen or it would be too ridiculous - since 1958, we've pretty much seen and heard it all. What Pope Pius XII would have insisted could never, ever happen is now considered "conservative." So, please.

   Anyway, I needed to give you this shocker because it's just unbelievable what we read about every day, coming from the Vatican, from the bishops, and from the other high offices in the Church. Now, after 14 installments of the humanism of our Pope, you probably wonder by now just what the reason might be for John Paul II's humanistic (and now ecologistic??) teachings. Just why humanism? Why not orthodox Catholicism? Why is John Paul such a humanist?

   I suppose only God and perhaps John Paul II can answer this question satisfactorily. However, we can at least make an attempt at understanding the possible motivation that lies behind his strange theology. As always, a messed-up theology originates in messed-up philosophy. When we look at John Paul II's philosophical interests and upbringing, we see that he admired and/or was influenced by Edmund Husserl, Max Scheler, Jacques Maritain, Henri de Lubac, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

   Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) was a mathematician and logician who became extremely well-known by inventing a new method of philosophical investigation known as "phenomenology," a method that would focus on--and be restricted to--investigation of what appears to consciousness. His two-volume work Logical Investigations (1900/01) introduced this new method. The way Husserl defined his phenomenology and the way he wanted it to work, it is not acceptable for a Catholic, because, among other things, it sets aside issues of reality and truth and falsehood. However, some people, even Catholics, have attempted to modify Husserl's phenomenology such that it could be used fruitfully in philosophical and theological investigations. Having studied the issue for quite a while, I must say that I find it to be, at best, nothing other than utterly verbose sophistry with little substance. But that would mean it is seriously harmful to a sincere search for the truth because it clouds the intellect and thereby inhibits its pursuit of truth and wisdom. Consider, for example, terms like "penetrating" and "reflecting"--some of the favorite buzzwords in phenomenology--in connection with phenomenological investigation. I'm sorry, but I just don't think there's much meaning behind them. And as a concrete example, I have yet to see a difference--in practice--between reflecting on a subject and reflecting on it specifically phenomenologically.

   For his Ph.D. dissertation in philosophy (1953), John Paul II (as Karol Wojtyla) wrote on the ethics of Max Scheler. While critical of Scheler's conclusion, Fr. Wojtyla was intrigued by Scheler's use of the phenomenological method to reflect on and "penetrate" Christian ethics.

   Now, John Paul II certainly loved Scheler's phenomenology, and this left a lasting impression on John Paul's thought. But John Paul did not only have a love of phenomenology, but also of anthropology, the study of man. Now, put the two together and you get phenomenological anthropology - and, I think, this is what we've been seeing in the encyclicals and homilies and other writings of this Pope. Fancy words and highly complicated expressions, spanning lots of pages, while saying very little, and constant references and allusions to man. I don't know about you, but that's how I experience John Paul II's writings.

   Just in his latest apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, we once again find his incessant and utterly unprecedented identification of Christ with man in general. Thus, for instance, the subtitle that begins paragraph 25 is "Mystery of Christ, mystery of man." He then says that the Rosary has "anthropological significance," and he claims, as he already did at the very beginning of his pontificate in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, that Christ's life reveals "the truth about man." Once again, John Paul's humanism is easily visible. Last time I checked, Christ didn't come to reveal truth about man but only truth about Himself and about God and about salvation. That Christ's teaching has implications for what is true about man, that's no doubt true. But John Paul treats it as though we would somehow have to discover something about man, as if man were the focal point. No pre-Vatican II Pope to my knowledge ever talked about there being some "big truth about man" that Christ came to reveal or that we have to glimpse. This is utterly novel, and wasn't made possible until Vatican II, the council of man!

   The Pope admits as much when he says that it was Vatican II that taught that "it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man is seen in its true light" (Gaudium Et Spes #22). Isn't that sickening? I mean, what the heck is this talking about! "Mystery of man"? Why is everything after Pius XII, and especially since John Paul II, a "mystery"? It is unbelievable. I think this is the phenomenological spirit that the Pope has picked up, which ends up mystifying everything. In the end, there is no more reality but only "profound mystery" to be "penetrated" and some "richness" in it all that ought to be "reflected on." Hello? Are we on the same planet here?

   Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to banalize Sacred Doctrine. St. Thomas Aquinas affirmed that our minds could never even grasp - really grasp - the essence of a fly! However, at the same time, St. Thomas taught clearly, with authority, and with God's and the Church's approval, that we can have real knowledge of real things, not just earthly things but also things in the spiritual and metaphysical realms. While having a healthy respect for man's limited knowledge, St. Thomas nevertheless was an epistemological optimist.

   Jacques Maritain (1889-1973) was another enormous influence on the thought of Wojtyla/John Paul II. Maritain taught what he called "integral humanism," as opposed to false or secular humanism. On top of that, he also spread "personalism," the notion that personality and personhood are a key to interpreting reality. In other words: it's all about man.

   Now, there's no way I could possibly go into all the different philosophies discussed here, but at least I wish to scratch the surface a bit. Another man I mentioned is Fr. Henri de Lubac, who, I believe, was made a cardinal by John Paul II. De Lubac is the "father of the New Theology" - he was a real liberal and modernist. The Society of St. Pius X has graciously made available online a little compendium about all the main figures of the New Theology, i.e. the New Apostasy, and de Lubac is featured prominently in the series "They Think They've Won!" You can view this here:

   The same compendium includes an installment precisely on John Paul II, his novel theology, and his influence by the liberals, including the heretical Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. View it here:

   Basically, since Vatican II, and especially in the writings of John Paul II, instead of a clarification of teaching, we find obfuscation of the old and invention of novelty, together with plenty of convoluted phrases. Interestingly enough, it was Pope St. Pius X who, in his letter "Our Apostolic Mandate," observed that "evil and error are presented in dynamic language which, concealing vague notions and ambiguous expressions with emotional and high-sounding words, is likely to set ablaze the hearts of men in pursuit of ideals which, whilst attractive, are none the less nefarious."

   Even before this warning of a very attentive Pope, the First Vatican Council had already made clear that "the doctrine of faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected" (Denzinger #1800). Yet, in my opinion, the present Pope is drawn to do just that: "develop," reinterpret, improve upon, add on to, and transform our received Faith, especially "in light of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council," as he would say.

   It is clear why this wicked revolution in the Church could never have taken place without a council. There would have been no basis for any theologian, prelate, or even the Pope, to base their novelties on.

   With Vatican II came the turn from proper Catholic philosophy and theology to humanism under the guise of personalism. Fr. Richard Hogan, in his book ironically called Dissent from the Creed, tries to make us understand the novel thinking of Karol Wojtyla this way: "The future Pope used the truth of our Creation in God's image in a new way. Since we are all created to be like God and since we are all unique in reflections of God, our own experiences, properly understood, reveal something of God. Since we are images of God, our experiences should reveal something about God" (p. 319).

   Let me at this point again refer to the New Catechism's paragraph 675, which says that there will be a "supreme religious deception [which] is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh."

   Before the Great Deception can fully install man in the place of God, there necessarily has to be a "gradual shift," and I think this is done by the "personalism" and humanism of the New Theology. After all, if the Innovators were immediately putting man in God's place, everyone would notice. So, now they're using complicated-sounding heretical musings that many people will simply think are the conclusions of a "profound philosophical mind, a gifted intellect, a great thinker."

   And what are the practical applications and conclusions of this "personalism"? Well, we've seen it all: religious liberty, Assisi, indifferentism, blasphemy. Once we turn to man in order to "see God," the line into idolatry has been crossed. Certainly, we can look at man and praise the Creator who has created such a marvelous being. We can gather by looking at man that God is incredibly intelligent and all-powerful. That's fine. But the New Theologians have totally perverted this and made man a way to God. "Man is the way for the Church," said John Paul II in his 1979 encyclical Redemptor Hominis (#14). He suggests that by God's revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ, He has revealed man to himself; that by showing us who He is, He shows us who we are - what utter nonsense, and utter blasphemy. Here we see a continual identification of man with God. Not fully yet, of course, because there's the always-present "in a sense" and "to an extent" and "if properly understood," but you get the point.

   "Man in the full truth of his existence, of his personal being and also of his community and social being - in the sphere of his own family, in the sphere of society and very diverse contexts, in the sphere of his own nation or people (perhaps still only that of his clan or tribe), and in the sphere of the whole of mankind - this man is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission: he is the primary and fundamental way for the Church, the way traced out by Christ himself, the way that leads invariably through the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption," the Pope continues further.

   "Man the fundamental way of the Church" - folks, this is utterly novel, unprecedented, never heard-of in the Church until Vatican II and especially John Paul II. It is the fruit of phenomenology, personalism, and humanism. I reject it with every fiber of my being.

   In his 1987 encyclical Dominum Et Vivificantem, John Paul II wrote: "The 'first-born of all creation,' becoming incarnate in the individual humanity of Christ, unites himself in some way with the entire reality of man, which is also 'flesh'--and in this reality with all 'flesh', with the whole of creation" (#50). This borders on pantheism! Pantheism is the wicked heresy that God and reality are one, that is, that everything, all of creation, is divine. Surely, the defenders of John Paul II would point to the phrase "in some way" as a way out in order not to reach the pantheist conclusion. But folks, what is this? A cat-and-mouse game? Why is the Pope playing hookey-dookey with us?

   I'm glad that John Paul II is so hard to understand - this way, many people will not be misled. On the other hand, other innovators can simply introduce more novelties and claim that John Paul II encourages this or calls for this in one of his writings. You know, the typical "that's what the Pope said" excuse. This is what has largely been done with Vatican II (e.g. "Vatican II says….." when many people have no idea what Vatican II actually said), where we can already see this kind of language, the kind that St. Pius X condemned so long ago.

   Basically, as I see it, what John Paul II has given us in his encyclicals is phenomenological personalism - his own philosophical musings mixed with some Catholic doctrine and plenty of novelty. But the Supreme Pontificate is no playground, no testing ground for philosophical theories. We don't want to hear the personal philosophy of Karol Wjotyla applied to Catholicism. We want to hear Catholic truth, unmixed with error. And that is our right.

   In an article in The Remnant, Dr. Thomas Woods aptly observed: "What the entire dispute ultimately amounts to is the First Vatican Council's description of the Pope: the guardian of the Church's moral tradition, not its author or innovator. He has no right to impose his personal opinions on the universal Church in the face of thousands of years of testimony to the contrary. To be perfectly frank, the present Pontificate appears to have had a mesmerizing effect on otherwise sensible Catholics, who now believe that Church tradition is whatever the Pope says it is" ("Justice Scalia, the Pope, and the Death Penalty" in The Remnant, 2002).

   What's left for me to say? Let me give you a good book recommendation. Fr. Johannes Dormann has written a trilogy about John Paul II called "John Paul II's Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi," first published in 1994. It is available from Angelus Press (1-800-966-7337). See more about it here:

   You can furthermore find more information on personalism, its philosophical origins, and the whole mess of Vatican II and John Paul II's encyclicals, right here:

   This concludes my series on the humanism of Pope John Paul II. Much evidence has been left untouched, but one can only do so much. You will certainly hear more of John Paul II's horrendous and humanist/personalist statements in future articles on this site.

   May God bless you, and may the holy Pius X intercede for our Holy Church.

Mario Derksen

    Editor's Note: So many of the post-conciliar bishops today refer to those clinging to the true Roman Catholic traditions that were in vogue for 2000 years prior to the reforms of Vatican II as 'fossils,' 'dinosaurs,' 'old folks who will die off soon.' We beg to differ and offer as proof the youthful wisdom and enthusiasm of the younger generation in the Traditional Insights of Mario Derksen who exemplifies the thinking of many more young men and women today who realize the new thinking of the post-conciliar church does not add up to true Catholic teaching. Thus they long for those traditions so tried and true. His insight shows great promise, optimism and hope for the future of Holy Mother Church.

      Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]

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October 18-20, 2002
volume 13, no. 119
Mario Derksen's young and refreshing TRADITIONAL INSIGHTS
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