Richard Spinello and a "bold Christian humanism": John Paul II legacy lecture
Falvey Memorial Library had the distinct pleasure to present the third annual Pope John Paul II legacy lecture, “John Paul II and the Rescue of Humanism,” with Richard A. Spinello, author of The Genius of John Paul II: The Great Pope’s Moral Wisdom (Sheed & Ward, 2007).
He discussed Karol Wojtyla as a student and priest in Poland during the Nazi and Communist eras and talked about Wojtyla’s philosophy and its critical influences. He also described Wojtyla's seminal work, The Acting Person, and the Christian humanism that found expression during his papacy, particularly in his first encyclical, Redemptor hominis. Dr. Spinello also addressed his own lingering questions that have arisen from contemplating all of these elements together.
Dr. Spinello insists that John Paul II “laid out a grand vision in response to the problems of the last century.” John Paul II was reacting to the humanism, or rather the “anti-humanism” of Nietzsche, Marx and Sartre. For John Paul, existential humanism has merit, but is anti-metaphysical, and, therefore, has fundamentally “different anthropologies” from Christianity.
In considering this, Dr. Spinello said, “We cannot forget the theistic view of creation (in which) weakness due to sin is secondary. ...The fall from grace is serious stuff.” Most of all, for the late pope, “human dignity is important.” Dr. Spinello characterizes John Paul’s “counter-cultural version of humanism” as a “bold Christian humanism,” because it says “we cannot fully understand ourselves without Jesus Christ.”
A native of Boston, Dr. Spinello holds a Ph.D. and an MBA and is an associate research professor in the operations, information and strategic management department in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Dr. Spinello, ethics program director at the Carroll School, is renowned for his work on cyberethics. He also teaches in the philosophy department.
The talk, held on the third anniversary of the late pope’s death, April 2, was attended by Villanova students, faculty, and staff and was held in the first floor lounge. The two previous Pope John Paul II legacy lectures focused on evolution and the theology of the body.
Contributed by Darren G. Poley; photograph by Natalie Tomasco