The Intellectual Fermentation of John Paul II



A book that I want to write in the not so distant future will be titled The Mind and Heart of John Paul II: A Critical Examination. In this work, I will explore just exactly what John Paul II believed and taught. One of the curious periods in John Paul II’s intellectual career is his study under Fr. Garrigou Lagrange, the last great Thomist. One would think that the impeccable orthodoxy of Fr. Garrigou Lagrange would rub off on John Paul II, and maybe it did.

In his recent autobiography, George Weigel notes that Polish Stefan Swiezawski “introduced Wojtyla to the works of the French philosophers Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain, which took Wojtyla beyond the intellectual milieu in which he was immersed at the Angelicum during his doctoral studies.” Thus like Paul VI, John Paul II was bitten by the bug of Neo-Thomism, and we can thus trace some of the liberal political ideas as well as some of the roots of the personalist anthropology that corrupted John Paul II’s thinking in his reading of Maritain, the grandfather of Catholic neoconservativism.

It is further interesting that Weigel is clearly pleased that John Paul II was weaned off of the the traditional Thomism he learned at the Angelicum.