Karol Wojtyła

Photo from the archives of the Metropolitan Curia in Krakow

Karol Wojtyła

An Ethics Primer

Read by Wojciech Barczyński, recorded by Radiofonia Association
English translation: Klementyna Chrzanowska

Action is what realizes the essence of a given being: what that being is in potentiality becomes fully real only through action. And this actualization of everything that a given being potentially is constitutes its natural telos; that is why it helps to awaken the being’s desire, its activity. A good is something that triggers this aspiration, that spurs into action. That is how desire prompts the process of refinement in every being.

What a human being is and what a human being should become through moral life – through actions, both inner and outer acts: for a Christian, the answers to those questions become fully meaningful in the light of faith.

To say that nature obliges, that nature places a certain duty on human beings, would certainly lead to quite a fundamental shift in both theory and practice. Humans would have to see themselves not only as pliable material shaped through coincidences, but would have to feel more to be their own creators, aware of their own possibilities. And that, quite often, can seem inconvenient.

English translation: Klementyna Chrzanowska

Karol Wojtyła

(1920–2005) – born in Wadowice, where he spent his early years. In 1938, he moved to Krakow, where he lived with his father on Tyniecka Street. The move was motivated by the decision to enrol at the Polish Philology at the Jagiellonian University. During the war, Wojtyła set up the Rhapsodic Theatre with a group of friends. In the meantime, he joined the Metropolitan Seminary. Anointed priest in 1946. In 1958, named an auxiliary bishop of Krakow, and in 1964 appointed the Metropolitan Bishop of Krakow. At that time, Wojtyła worked on his most important literary works: Przed sklepem jubilera (The Jeweller’s Shop, 1960) and Promieniowanie ojcostwa (Emanation of Fatherhood, 1964). Beginning with the late 1950s, he published his essays in theology in Tygodnik Powszechny Catholic weekly; they were later published as Elementarz etyczny (Ethics Primer) in 1983. Elected Pope in 1978. During his pontificate, as John Paul II, he repeatedly visited Malopolska, especially his hometown of Wadowice, but also Krakow and Podhale region. (ms)


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