Religious Freedom, Just War and Sovereignty of Nations. Learning from Paweł Włodkowic

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Religious Freedom, Just War and Sovereignty of Nations. Learning from Paweł Włodkowic

October 22 at 14:00 - 18:00

On October 22, 2024, following John Paul II’s call, we will come back to the wisdom of the old master Paweł Włodkowic, a XVth-century lawyer, diplomat, rector of the University of Cracow, a participant of the Council of Constance and one of the greatest minds of the Pope’s motherland. Włodkowic’s writings will be a starting point to discuss concepts of religious freedom, just war and sovereignty of nations in a historical and contemporary context. 

Włodkowic’s legal and philosophical thought stemmed from his contemporary culture, but was also in many respects groundbreaking. Together with historians and theologians we will be asking to what extent his thought was original for his times. We will then look at today’s reality through the lens of Włodkowic’s legacy remembering that problems raised by this XVth-century intellectual were crucial also in the thought of pope John Paul II.

The conference will be opened with introductory remarks from Fr Thomas Joseph White O.P. Rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and an opening lecture by professor Paul Knoll from the University of Southern California, an expert on Eastern European history and editor of Paweł Włodkowic’s Writings (1416-1432). The Struggle for the Self-Determination of Central Europe published by the St. John Paul II Institute of Culture in 2023. Professor Knoll will introduce us to Paweł Włodkowic and his writings to then join professor Wojciech Fałkowski from the University of Warsaw and professor Catherine Droste O.P. from the Angelicum Faculty of Theology in a panel discussion on Włodkowic’s legacy and its historical background. After a short break the initiator of our conference, professor Marek Cichocki from the Natolin College of Europe will give a lecture introducing us to the contemporary meaning and understanding of Paweł Włodkowic’s ideas. The panel discussion will be joined by John Lord Alderdice from the House of Lords and George Weigel from the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

There must be a return to the wisdom of the old teacher Paweł Włodkowic, Rector of the Jagellonian University at Krakow in the 15th century, and the rights of nations must be ensured: their right to existence, to freedom, to independence, to their own culture, and to honourable development. But it is not only in terms of rights, but also and above all it is about love: that love of neighbour which expresses and gives a voice to the love of God, the love which Christ proclaimed in his commandment and that every man has written in his heart –  the commandment which God the Creator carved in the heart.

Homily of His Holiness John Paul II at the Auschwitz-Birkenau former German-Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp, 7 June 1979



October 22
14:00 - 18:00
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St. John Paul II Institute of Culture