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Published by: millingtorres on Mar 29, 2011
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John Paul II’s context is the Roman Catholicism of Poland blended with Polish

national and cultural identity. Karol Wojtyla was born in 1920 into an environment that

was ready to receive and train him deeply in all that it is to be a Roman Catholic

Christian. His parents’ strong relationship and their faithful practice of Catholicism

nurtured him. After his mother’s death when he was eight and the death of his only

sibling, an older brother, when Karol was eleven, he both prayed and played with his

father. Nine years later, his father died, and Wojtyla left alone.2

Nonetheless, the views

about life and sexuality that had been given him in his home corresponded to a broader

network that included school, friends, community, and nation with Roman Catholicism at

the heart of it all. In 1939, Polish independence ended due to the invasion by Nazi

Germany. Six years later, the Red Army pushed out the Germans and stayed in power

until 1989. Life under totalitarian rule taught Wojtyla much about the need to affirm the


This work has been translated into Spanish, German, and Italian, but not into English. See
footnote 26 on page 876 in George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (New
York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999). The edition cited in this dissertation is Karol Wojtyla, Max
Scheler Y La Ética Cristiana
, trans. Gonzalo Haya, Biblioteca De Autores Cristianos (Madrid: Editorial
Católica, 1982).


Weigel, Witness to Hope, Chap. 1 passim.


dignity and freedom of persons, the resilience of Roman Catholicism, and the importance

of social solidarity.

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