Encyclicals of John Paul II

JPI 555/716

The aim of this course is to familiarize students with the theological vision of John Paul II as embodied in his Encyclical Letters. The course begins with an overview of the life and thought of Karol Wojtyla / John Paul II. The second, and longest, part of the course consists of close reading of eleven of John Paul II's Encyclical Letters from Redemptor Hominis (1979) through Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003). The unifying theme for our interpretation of the thought of John Paul II is the intersection of theology and anthropology as set forth in the great text of Gaudium et Spes, 22: “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man becomes clear. . . Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his high calling.” In order to deepen our understanding of John Paul II’s contribution to Catholic theology and philosophy, we will situate his writings on the context of the development of Catholic Social Doctrine from Rerum Novarum through the Second Vatican Council. The course concludes with a reflection on Pope Benedict XVI’s interpretation and development of John Paul II’s theology in light of contemporary challenges.


Course Texts for Spring 2022:

It is recommended (but not required) that students purchase copies of the following Encyclical Letters as published by Pauline Books and Media:

  • Redemptor Hominis (1979) 
  • Dives in Misericordia (1980)
  • Dominum et Vivificantem (1986)
  • Redemptoris Mater (1987)
  • Centesimus Annus (1991)
  • Veritatis Splendor (1993)
  • Evangelium Vitae (1995)
  • Fides et Ratio (1998) 
  • Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003)

Associated Faculty

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