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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 17, Issue 12, 2007

Complementarity and Unification

Józef L. Krakowiak
Pages 123-138

Laborem Exercens as a Historical Turning-Point in the Personalization of the Church and Society

Doubtless that which strongly links Karol Wojtyła’s Laborem exercens encyclical with Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 is not so much philosophy of work as the personalistic anti-feudalism that is equally alive in both works. The personalistic trait, in Marxism merely an (unpursued) option mentioned in the Manuscripts, was taken further—philosophically, and not just ethically—in Laborem exercens, where the person becomes an ontological category (in light both of the transcendent existence of a tri-personal God and the transcendence of the communities created by human beings, who are only able to live in communities). Also, the person acquired an ontological-social dimension by determining the boundaries of humanity’s co-creative (also in the world-creating sense) communion with God as the ideal of community-based material and social existence. And this is also the guiding perspective of my initial analysis of the personalization process underway in Polish society and the post-Vatican-II Church. Both are gradually—if not without some difficulty—learning to part with the non-personalistic models characteristic for the previous, still considerably feudalism-influenced era, which manifested themselves as much in the institutionalism of official Marxism as the socially (not religiously!) motivated doctrines of the Church.

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