103: How St. John Paul II Answers the Modern Crisis

Picture of by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard
The Art of Catholic with Matthew Leonard

Humanity is having an identity crisis of major proportions. People don’t know who they are. And it’s literally wreaking havoc across the world at this very instant.


People are struggling on so many levels.

And St. John Paul II saw it coming. In fact, he provided the answers before many of the questions were even posed.

Expanding upon the work of St. Thomas Aquinas and others, he developed a philosophy of the person called, appropriately, “personalism.” It’s a way to make sense of who we are and the dignity each of us possesses.

And it’s so powerful!

So on this episode of the Art of Catholic, I asked Dr. John Crosby, an eminent philosopher at Franciscan University of Steubenville, to give us an overview of John Paul II’s famous way of looking at the human person so that we can understand more deeply who we are…and help the world figure it out, too.

Among other things we discuss:

  • Why even “regular” Catholics need philosophy
  • How John Paul II’s experience of Nazism & Communism shaped his thought
  • What is the “Personalist Norm” & why it changes everything
  • How to stop using God like a vending machine
  • How does John Paul II answer the problem of gender confusion?
  • Why so-called “mutual consent” is still a violation of the other person
  • How treating other people as “subjects” will revolutionize our relationships (This one changes everything!)

Sit back and enjoy an exploration of the grandeur of the human person…the grandeur of YOU!

God bless!


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5 Responses

  1. We were living on Guam when Pope St. John Paul visited there. We saw his arrival at the airport and later were able to attend the Mass he said in the center of the city. As he entered the area riding on the “Popemobile”, he circled the entire area, blessing the crowd. I so wanted him to bless my family, but as he approached where we were standing on the edge of the crowd, I found myself unable to even speak in order to call out my request that he bless us. There was such an aura of power and of love eminating from him, I could only think it was the Holy Spirit! I was unable to speak at all so I raised my hand as if in blessing and then put my hand out in supplication to him and he understood! He blessed my husband, our four children, and finally myself. And as he did, I touched each member of our family and then blessed myself as well. It was such a profound moment in my life!

  2. Hi Matt, thank you for the interview and introducing us to the book. I just finished reading it. This book is indeed easy to understand and really helped understand Pope St. John Paul II’s thought.

    I do have a question related to chapter 6 (Freedom and Truth) where the author contrasts coercion and persuasion, explaining why coercion isn’t the way to go about things. He explains that coercion is against the freedom of the person.

    Do you know how one could apply this with raising children? Now that I’m grown up, I think back about a lot of things I was told to do or not do, and I just had to obey with no questions asked but no one would tell me why something is wrong. I’d then end up doing the very things I was told not to do. I’d like to reason that if I was told why, maybe I would actually obey but if I have to be honest, I would have disobeyed anyway and I would need far more “persuasive” methods to be set right (to put it mildly). But the question remains. Can Pope St. John Paul II’s method of persuasion be applied to toddlers too? How would he interpret, for example, Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” In fact, if this verse wasn’t applied to me directly, I would probably have been in a really bad state as a grown up.

    1. I must clarify what I said. I’m not suggesting beating children (let along doing so with rods). Also, I said toddlers when I should I have said children who have reached (or almost reached) the age of reason.

    2. Hi, Ashwith! I totally get your question. I think that JP@2 is talking more along the lines of “formed” adults. Though we have to charitably respect the freedoms of our children as persons, as parents we also have to have a firm hand in directing their development so that their freedom is ordered in the right way. (Freedom doesn’t just mean doing what you want. It means having the freedom to do what you should.) We should treat them the same way God treated the Israelites in the Old Testament…rules to guide, reprimand when necessary, and love them incessantly. God bless!

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