Posted by Paweł A. Makowski

Quest for freedom

United Nations representatives are reminded that they „are witnessing an extraordinary global acceleration of quest for freedom”. But that witness does not mean an option to interpret freedom in exclusively subjective categories. Delegates are confronted by freedom’s objective character. Freedom, because it is the finale to a “quest”, is the culmination of a rational and deliberate process, one that is deeply embedded in the contours of human history. The Pope insisted that freedom transcends every inclination to confine it by geographic or cultural boundaries. It belongs no more to one area than to one group. Freedom is characterized by authentic universality.

Idea of quest

The idea of “quest” denotes an external manifestation, admittedly global in scope and perceptible in features. What, however, motivates such a quest? According to Pope John Paul II, the outer quest corresponds to an inner quest, an inner longing that is similarly universal. And that longing “has its basic in those universal rights which human beings enjoy by the very fact of their humanity”. It is for that reason, the Pope said, that people are willing to take “the risk of freedom”, even in the face of violence. What they as it that “commensurate with their dignity as free human beings”, they may “be given a  place in social, political and economic life”. United Nations delegates ensure a diplomacy dedicated to the safeguarding of human dignity, especially from all forms of outrage which may assail it.

To diplomatic corps

On January 10, 1988, Pope John Paul II reminded the diplomatic corps that “man is unfortunately capable of  betraying his humanity” and his freedom. However, freedom is not a barrier to progressive enlightenment when that enlightenment acknowledges those institution, organization, and belief systems which may so serve human sojourners that they “can always find again the sources of life and order which the Creator has inscribed in the most intimate part of man’s being”. Freedom, according to the Pope, is both ontological and anthropological. Freedom belongs to the order of created being, an order for which man is designed to participate. Because man is fashioned for freedom, the act of appeal to the very ground of “life and order” means, in reality, that man consents to actualize what is his own intrinsic nature.


It is a free nature which allows individuals and their social groupings to enter into solidarity without loss of their identity and integrity. The Pope cited the example of Africa. “Africans ought not to rely on outside assistance for everything”. Africans are endowed with the human resource capacity “to meet the challenges of our time and to manage societies in an appropriate way”. It would be erroneous to deduce that freedom thus described as the byproduct of a patronizing benevolence. Quite the opposite. Freedom for Africans in this instance – and by extension to all other – means alignment with the fact of a potential which is inherently oriented toward positive evolution and development.

This content comes from: B.J. O’Connor, Papal Diplomacy: John Paul II and Culture of Peace, South Bend, Indiana 2005.

General information about Papal Diplomacy in post: Diplomacy according to John Paul II”.