Posted by Paweł A. Makowski

Use of freedom

A purpose of diplomacy is to recognize the practical consequences of a determination to live on behalf of freedom. That life, the Pope urged the United Nations, necessitates a response which pertains to the dimensions of “the spiritual growth of humanity and to the moral vitally of nation”. Freedom possesses a distinct moral structure. Diplomats must be aware that freedom is neither unbridled license nor the mere absence of oppression. The Pope stated that freedom has its own proper inner “logic”. “Freedom is ordered to the truth”. And just as freedom has been depicted as a quest originating in an interior longing, the fulfillment of that quest is not realized solely when freedom is attained, but when that freedom is attached to “truth about the human person”. Truth comprehends that the aforementioned license signals a  deterioration of individuals lives. Applied to political life, freedom removed from truth “becomes the caprice of the most powerful and the arrogance of power”. Knowledge of truth concerning the human person, Pope John Paul II said, is “universally knowable”. In other words, truth is not an idea or an ideal; it is not defined by the shifting sands of relativism; nor is it the prerogative of intellectual elitism. Truth is part of the fabric of the omni-pervasive natural, moral law. Hence, connecting truth to freedom does nor limit the later or threaten it in any manner. Rather, that connect becomes the “guarantor of freedom’s future”.

Integral development of the human person

Repeatedly, the Pope links the cause of “the integral development of the human person” to the need for a return to insistence upon the moral foundation of political action. Otherwise, what passes for agreement or consensus amounts simply to façade. The Pope, in his 1997 New Year message to diplomats, observed that there is a profunsion of “written convention and forums for self-expression”. Quite obviously, unresolved problems on the international scene illustrate that such are not reliable or efficient solution. The deficiency consists of the absence of “a moral law and the courage to abide by it”. Again, in 1998, the Pope cautioned diplomats that the community of nations “cannot escape the duty of fidelity to the unwritten law of the human conscience”. He cited a passage from his encyclical letter, Centesimus Annus. The tenor is strongly reminiscent of his words to the 1995 United Nations General Assembly. “If there exists no ultimate truth which guides and directs political action, then ideas and convictions can be easily exploited for the benefit of the powerful”. Freedom deprived of truth risks slippage into demagoguery.

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”.