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Showing posts with label Pope John Paul II. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope John Paul II. Show all posts

Thursday, April 2, 2020

In Loving Memory of Pope John Paul II

"None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi. We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

~ From the eulogy delivered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for Saint John Paul II, who died on this day, fifteen years ago.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

John Paul II and the Cold War’s Decisive Moment

By Father Raymond de Souza

Forty years ago the communists got what they wanted, and lived to rue the day.
When Archbishop Karol Wojtyła of Kraków was elected Pope John Paul II in October 1978, the question arose of how Moscow and Warsaw would deal with a potential papal visit to his homeland. The communists wanted no part of a pope behind the Iron Curtain. St Paul VI had accepted the invitation of the Polish bishops to visit for the millennium of Poland’s baptism in 1966, but the Polish regime and its Soviet overlord refused to permit the Holy Father to come.
The wily “Primate of the Millennium”, the now Venerable Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński went ahead with the Mass marking the 1,000th anniversary of Christianity in Poland at the shrine of the Black Madonna at Częstochowa, concelebrated by Archbishop Wojtyła and the entire Polish episocopate. At the centre of the celebration was an enormous vacant chair, upon which the cardinal placed a portrait of St Paul VI. Everyone got the message.
In 1979, the aging tyrants in Moscow advised their Polish subordinates to close the border to John Paul, as they had to Paul VI. Warsaw knew better; it was simply impossible to refuse the Polish pope entry to Poland, perhaps the world’s most devout Catholic country. So they tried to do the best they could. St John Paul II asked to visit “my beloved Kraków … where every stone and brick is dear to me” for two days in May 1979. He would come for the 700th anniversary of the martyrdom of
St Stanisław, the 11th-century bishop of Kraków, murdered by King Bolesław the Bold himself during Holy Mass. The Polish communist party was aghast; the Polish pope returning to commemorate the anniversary of the state killing his predecessor was simply impossible.
So they refused the proposal for two Stanisław-focused days in May, and offered instead nine days in June. John Paul accepted the “compromise” and announced the nine-day pilgrimage for June. The Polish bishops then decided to transfer the celebration of St Stanisław’s feast to June.
Thus outmaneuvered before the apostolic visit even began, the Polish regime, at best, could only attempt to limit the damage. They clumsily directed Polish state television, for example, not to show any scenes of the massive crowds. Yet they did not manage to get through the first day before suffering a lethal blow.
Landing in Warsaw on June 2, 1979, John Paul made a triumphal entry to the capital city, entering Victory Square, with its tomb of the unknown soldier, for the Mass for the vigil of Pentecost. With a million people packed into Warsaw’s rebuilt Old City, he preached the most important sermon in the thousand-year history of Poland. He began by pointedly recalling that God had seen to it that a pope would visit Poland, even after the refusal of 1966. The words were diplomatic and pious, but there was no subtlety in the message: God had won, the Church had won, the Polish people had won.
“Together with you I wish to sing a hymn of praise to Divine Providence, which enables me to be here as a pilgrim,” he began. “We know that the recently deceased Paul VI, the first pilgrim pope after so many centuries, ardently desired to set foot on the soil of Poland… To the end of his life he kept this desire in his heart, and with it he went to the grave. And we feel that this desire – a desire so potent and so deeply rooted that it goes beyond the span of a pontificate – is being realised today in a way that it would have been difficult to foresee.”
“Difficult to foresee” – perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of papal rhetoric. But John Paul clearly saw what was at stake. It was the same question that led to the martyrdom of Stanisław: would Poland remain free, or would the Polish state claim the things of God?
He continued: “My pilgrimage to my motherland in the year in which the Church in Poland is celebrating the ninth centenary of the death of St Stanisław is surely a special sign of the pilgrimage that we Poles are making down through the history of the Church.”
The witness of Poland, “from Stanisław to Maximilian Kolbe”, could not be understood without reference to Christ and the nation’s Christian faith, John Paul insisted. There could be no justice in Europe without a free Poland on the map, and there could be no just accounting of Poland’s identity and mission without including its faith in God.
As the homily went on, John Paul was repeatedly interrupted, sometimes for minutes on end, by a rhythmic chant of the vast congregation: “We want God! We want God!”
By the end of the homily, only hours after his arrival, the historical moment was already clear. The contest was over between a free Catholic Poland and the communist tyranny that had been imposed upon it from Moscow in 1945. It would take another 10 years to work out the details, but it was not in doubt who would win, and why.
The end of the Cold War cannot be understood apart from Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and the geopolitics of the 1980s. But the decisive moment was on June 2, 1979 in Warsaw, not on a battlefield or in a chancellery negotiation, but at the Mass for Pentecost.
Fr Raymond J de Souza is a priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario, and editor-in-chief of

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Polish PM Offers to Save John Paul II Statue after French Court Orders Removal of Cross

The bronze statue of Pope John Paul II in Ploërmel, France (Getty Images)
She offered to move it to Poland to save it from 'political correctness'

Poland’s prime minister has stepped into a row over a statue of Pope St John Paul II in Ploërmel, a town in Brittany.

France’s top administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, has ruled that a large cross over the nearly-25-foot high statue of John Paul in prayer must be removed, because it contravenes a 1905 law banning any “religious sign or emblem” in a public space, upholding France’s strict separation of Church and State.

Beata Szydło, prime minister of Poland, has offered to have the statue moved to Poland, to rescue it from “the dictates of political correctness”. She said that religious censorship is undermining the values of Europe.

Read more at Catholic Herald >> 


Friday, January 2, 2015

Canada Declares April 2 Annually As “Pope John Paul II Day”

Bill C-266 has now become Canadian law, recognizing Saint John Paul II as a champion of human dignity and freedom. The new Act designates April 2 annually as "Pope John Paul II Day". After the Bill was adopted last year by the House of Commons on June 12, 2013, it received third and final reading in the Senate on December 16, 2014, following which it received Royal Assent the same day.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Homily of Pope Francis for the Canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II


St. Peter's Square

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), 27 April 2014

At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we have heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. Thomas was also present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we have heard in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47). It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, Saint John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, guided by the Holy Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; for this reason I like to think of him as the the pope of openness to the Holy Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, Saint John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family.  May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.

Friday, April 25, 2014

William Oddie: John Paul II Set the Barque Back on Course

Pope John Paul’s major achievement for the Church was to recover Pope John’s original purpose: to “guard” and to teach more efficaciously “the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine”

Those closest to Pope John Paul II regarded him as a truly great man (CNS)
From The Catholic Herald (UK)

Why is Pope John Paul to be canonised this Sunday, not alone but together with Pope John? There is a very good answer to this question: but it is not the one generally being touted by the liberal press, Catholic or secular. Here, for instance, is the often sensible John L Allen, writing in the National Catholic Reporter: “With the canonisations,” he writes, “Francis is speaking not just to the outside world but to rival camps within the Catholic fold who see John XXIII and John Paul II as their heroes – meaning liberals and conservatives, respectively. The message seems to be, ‘You both belong here’.”

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pope Francis Signs Canonization Decrees for John XXIII and John Paul II

(Vatican Radio) Journalists in the Holy See Press Office busy getting to grips with Pope Francis’ first encyclical the Light of Faith, were somewhat surprised Friday lunchtime when Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. called them back for a second announcement: Pope Francis had approved the cause for canonization of two of his venerable and much loved predecessors Blessed John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. Emer McCarthy reports:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

On this, the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, just two days following the Feast of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, and during the Fortnight for Freedom, we can think of no better video to post than this moving tribute to Blessed John Paul II.  His heroic life reminds us that we are invincible when we stand with Our Lord against evil.

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Enduring Importance of Centesimus Annus

By George Weigel

Amidst the excitement of John Paul II’s beatification on May 1, the 20th anniversary of the late pope’s most important social encyclical, Centesimus Annus, got a bit lost. Blessed John Paul II was not a man given to rubbing it in. Still, it is worth noting that the encyclical, which celebrated the collapse of European communism and probed the social, cultural, economic, and political terrain of the post-communist world, was dated on May Day, the great public holiday of the communist movement. It was a subtle but unmistakable reminder that, in the contest between the Catholic Church and communism, someone had won and someone else had lost.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Beatification of Pope John Paul II

Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 1 May 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pope John Paul II - A Saint for Our Times

Sunday’s Beatification Will Be of a Holy Pope Who Began the Fightback Against the Smoke of Satan

It will take 100 years to recover from the 1960s and 70s: but John Paul set us back on course

By William Oddie

We have short memories; we take our recent history too easily for granted. Few people, it seems – at least among those who imply that the problems we still face as a Church were actually Pope John Paul’s fault – remember the state of the Catholic Church at the end of the reign of the unhappy Pope Paul VI, during which forces of disintegration were unleashed within the Church which brought it to the edge of losing all credibility as a defender of basic Christian orthodoxy.

This work of darkness was brought about, not by the Council itself, but by some of those, certainly, who had attended it. It was certainly not the work, as some still confidently claim, of a liberal pope: for if Pope Paul was such a convinced liberal, what about Humanae Vitae? What happened during his pontificate was clearly far from his intention. At a homily he preached in 1972, he is reported as saying, now famously, that he had “believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms, and of darkness … And how did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that … there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. It is as if from some mysterious crack… the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

US Author Cites New Evidence of Communism's 'War' with the Church

From Catholic News Service
By John Thavis

That Pope John Paul II was a pivotal figure in the fall of European communism is accepted as a truism, but many details of that drama have remained hidden in archives.

A U.S. biographer of the late pope has now provided particulars of what he describes as the full-scale war by communism against the Catholic Church, and Pope John Paul's astute and successful counter-strategy.

The Polish pope displayed political savvy and "a shrewdness that combined steadiness of strategic vision with tactical flexibility," George Weigel told an audience of seminarians, diplomats and Vatican officials at the Pontifical North American College Jan. 9.

One of Pope John Paul's moves, Weigel said, was to appoint as his own secretary of state Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the architect of the Vatican's "Ostpolitik" efforts to reach workable compromises with communist regimes.

By doing so, the late pope "created tactical advantages for the church: As the pope preached moral revolution over the heads of communist regimes, speaking directly to their people, Casaroli continued his diplomacy, thus denying the communists the opportunity to charge that the church had reneged on its commitment to dialogue," Weigel said.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vatican: Pope May Approve John Paul II's Beatification This Week

Pope Benedict XVI only needs to sign a document authorising the beatification of his Polish predecessor, John Paul II. Beatification is a major step towards sainthood.

That document may be presented on Saturday to the pontiff after a miracle attributed to the late Pope John Paul II was approved by both the medical and theological consultants for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints earlier in January, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The consultants confirmed that French nun Marie Simon-Pierre was miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease through the intercession of John Paul II, who also suffered from Parkinson's and died aged 84 on 2 April 2005. 

One miracle is required for beatification and two are needed for sainthood. 

Prefect of the Causes for Saints, Angelo Amato, is due to present the committee's findings to Benedict on Saturday. If he signs a decree acknowledging the miracle as expected, the pontiff then sets a date for the beatification ceremony, most likely to be held this year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

'Nine Days That Changed The World' Premieres in Krakow, Warsaw, and Rome

Newt and Callista Gingrich, in partnership with Citizens United Productions and Peace River Company, will premiere their new documentary, Nine Days that Changed the World, next week in Krakow, Warsaw and Rome.

The film will premiere at the Lagiewniki Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow on June 8, at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on June 9, and finally at the Pontifical North American College in Rome on June 12.

Nine Days that Changed the World explores Pope John Paul II's historic nine-day pilgrimage to Poland in June of 1979, which created a revolution of conscience that transformed Poland and fundamentally reshaped the spiritual and political landscape of the 20th Century.

Newt and Callista Gingrich, along with a Polish, American, and Italian cast, explore what transpired during these nine days that moved the Polish people to renew their hearts, reclaim their courage, and free themselves from the shackles of Communism.

Millions of Poles, almost one third of the nation, turned out to see the Holy Father in person, while the rest of the country followed his pilgrimage on television and radio. Within sixteen months, Solidarity became the first officially recognized free trade union in the Communist bloc, with over 10 million members. The momentum of this nine-day visit would eventually lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Featuring exclusive interviews with George Weigel, Michael Novak, John O'Sullivan, Jerzy Kluger, Father Adam Boniecki, Father Leon Knabit, Monsignor Jaroslaw Cielecki, Father Jan Andrzej Kloczowski, Father Thomas D. Williams, Father Wojciech Giertych, President Lech Walesa, President Vaclav Havel, Polish Free Trade Union Leaders Krzysztof Wyszkowski and Anna Walentynowicz, Former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey, and Secretary Jim Nicholson.

Nine Days that Changed the World is a story of human liberation, revealing the extraordinary power of Pope John Paul II's worldwide message of freedom through faith.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Loving Memory of Pope John Paul the Great on the Anniversary of His Death

It was five years ago this week that Pope John Paul II entered the house of the Father he served so well. This year, the anniversary of his death falls on Good Friday. In loving memory of this great spiritual leader, we are reprinting a reflection we posted on the third anniversary of his death.

"This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival"

On this third anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul the Great, it is an impossible task to pay adequate tribute to the colossus who dwelt among us. His pontificate was the third longest in history, and in his twenty-six and half years on the Chair of Saint Peter, he presided over 9 consistories, 15 synods of bishops, appointed 2500 of the world’s 4200 bishops.

He authored 14 encyclicals, 14 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, 42 apostolic letters, 28 Motu proprio, and 5 books, in addition to hundreds of other messages and letters.

The Holy Father undertook 247 exhausting foreign and Italian pastoral visits, traveling a distance of 28 times the earth’s circumference, while welcoming an average of one million people per year to his weekly audiences and other meetings in the Vatican.

The extraordinary depth, breadth and volume of his teachings, such as his “theology of the body,” are so vast that the Church will be reflecting on them and absorbing them for generations to come.

When he began his pontificate, the Vatican had diplomatic relations with 85 countries. It now has diplomatic relations with over 175.

He played a pivotal role in bringing an end to the most murderous and tyrannical empire the world has ever known.

A poet, an actor, a laborer, a professor, priest, Archbishop, Cardinal and Pope, his life was bound up in mystical ways with the history of the twentieth century.

Many criticized him for being too "conservative;" others were critical that he did not enforce discipline and greater order in the Church, and impose sanctions on the dissidents and heterodox. Yet as we saw in the sorrowful days following his passing, his purpose was far beyond ecclesial administration. He sought to be the Vicar of Christ and shepherd to all the peoples of the world, carrying out the great commandment of Christ and following the example of the Apostles, to “make disciples of all nations.”

As a soul totally surrendered to God, his immeasurable accomplishment was to touch the hearts of the whole world with the love of Christ.

Like our Lord, he chose his words carefully for every nation and audience he addressed. His deep love and concern for America was, perhaps, most beautifully summed up at the close of his 1987 apostolic visit to the United States:

"As I go, I take with me vivid memories of a dynamic nation, a warm and welcoming people, a Church abundantly blessed with a rich blend of cultural traditions. I depart with admiration for the ecumenical spirit that breathes strongly throughout this land, for the genuine enthusiasm of your young people, and for the hopeful aspirations of your most recent immigrants. I take with me an unforgettable memory of a country that God has richly blessed from the beginning until now.

America the beautiful! So you sing in one of your national songs. Yes, America you are beautiful indeed, and blessed in so many ways:

  • In your majestic mountains and fertile plains;
  • In the goodness and sacrifice hidden in your teeming cities and expanding suburbs;
  • In your genius for invention and for splendid progress;
  • In the power that you use for service and in the wealth that you share with others;
  • In what you give to your own, and in what you do for others beyond your borders;
  • In how you serve, and in how you keep alive the flame of hope in many hearts;
  • In your quest for excellence and in your desire to right all wrongs.

    Yes, America, all this belongs to you. But your greatest beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native-born son and daughter.

    For this reason, America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take toward the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.

    The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves.
    If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person:
  • Feeding the poor and welcoming refugees;

  • Reinforcing the social fabric of this nation;
  • Promoting the true advancement of women;
  • Securing the rights of minorities;
  • Pursuing disarmament, while guaranteeing legitimate defense:

All this will succeed only if respect for life and its protection by the law is granted to every human being from conception until natural death.

Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God. This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.

With these sentiments of love and hope for America, I now say good-bye in words that I spoke once before: “Today, therefore, my final prayer is this: that God will bless America, so that she may increasingly become – and truly be – and long remain – ‘One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’”

May God bless you all. God bless America!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cardinal Dziwisz Recalls Papal Journey that Brought Down Communism

From Catholic World News

Thirty years to the day after Pope John Paul II (bio - news) concluded his first apostolic journey to Poland-- a journey that marked the beginning of the end of Communism in Eastern Europe-- the June 10 edition of L’Osservatore Romano published a translation of a recent Polish interview with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, the Pontiff’s personal secretary, who called the pilgrimage Pope John Paul’s most important trip.

The Polish authorities, Cardinal Dziwisz recounted, had blocked a visit of Pope Paul VI to Poland. When the anti-clerical Mexican government invited Pope John Paul to visit Mexico, the Pope “intuitively” realized that the Polish Communist authorities could not prevent a papal pilgrimage, which would be timed to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the death of St. Stanislaus in 1979. In negotiations conducted through the late Archbishop Bronislaw Dabrowski, the Pontiff accepted the government’s restrictions on the areas he could visit, as well as the government’s demand that his visit not take place in May-- the month in which the 900th anniversary took place.

Pope John Paul quickly wrote all of the speeches and homilies by himself, with the Polish section of the Secretariat of State limited to the role of providing citations. Cardinal Dziwisz added that Pope John Paul decisively reversed the previous Vatican policy of Ostpolitik, for he was “convinced that the future did not belong either to Marxism or to the class struggle.” Thus the Pontiff opposed liberation theology’s attempts “to include Marxist analysis in the social doctrine of the Church.”

Cardinal Dziwisz traced the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe to June 3, 1979, during the Pope’s homily in the Cathedral of Gniezno, in which he emphasized the “spiritual unity of Christian Europe,” West and East. After the papal visit, Poland was never the same: freed from fear, the Polish people founded the Solidarity movement.

The road from the 1979 papal visit to the historic events of 1989 was not a smooth one. Following the 1981 imposition of martial law in Poland, President Ronald Reagan personally called Pope John Paul to tell him that the Soviets would not invade Poland.

As the interview drew to close, Cardinal Dziwisz said that the late Pontiff’s canonization process is going “very well.” He concluded by recounting Pope John Paul’s exorcism of a young woman following a general audience. Recalling that he “felt the voice with which it [the demon] screamed,” Cardinal Dziwisz emphasized, “Satan exists.”