Blogs > Letters written by Saint John Paul II reveal his deep humanity

15 February 2016 | by Christopher Lamb in Rome

Letters written by Saint John Paul II reveal his deep humanity

There are no new revelations but an insight into the intensity of the relationship with Tymieniecka

He is a former Pope who was made a saint in record time. John Paul II was a man of extraordinary charisma who helped bring down the Iron Curtain and with his deep, almost monastic spirituality led the Church for over 30 years. They are almost superhuman feats.   But today we learn something deeply human about him.  Letters uncovered by Ed Stourton for the BBC Panorama programme reveal he had an emotionally intense relationship with a Polish philosopher and married woman, Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka. The two appear to have fallen in love.   It should be pointed out that the friendship between John Paul II and Tymieniecka had been well-documented.  In his biography on John Paul II: Universal Father, Garry O’Connor wrote that the two had an "unusually intense relati


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Comment by: Mark godswin
Posted: 07/09/2016 04:59:47
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Comment by: Cathy Wattebot
Posted: 24/02/2016 14:26:27
It seems that St John Paul II thought that this relationship with a married woman was a good thing. Concentrating on the issue of combining an intense erotic relationship, if emotional and not physical, with a celibate priesthood, little is said here about the possible effects of such a relationship on the partner's marriage, just as important, or more, than priests' celibacy.

In spite of being the standard bearer for the heterosexual marriage or bust movements which are prominent in some countries today, the former Pope seems not to have worried (or known?) what this relationship could have been doing to his partner's marriage. I wonder if most married people would think it right to combat, overcome and transform an erotic emotional relationship with someone not their spouse.

The former Pope's ambivalence here may bring about a salutary and wider relativization of his thoughts on male and female, and marriage as a whole, which are brought in to reinforce many Church regulations prejudicial to women, from contraception to refusal of women priests.
Comment by: AlanWhelan
Posted: 17/02/2016 22:57:22
I listened with great interest this morning to Edward Sturton's Radio 4 programme. By the end of the programme St John Paul had appealed to me more than ever before and especially the knowledge that he kept up strong relationships with his friends right to the end of his days.

I also enjoyed Caroline Farow's interview on Radio 4 earlier in the week. Her particular take on being the wife of a Catholic priest was most interesting.

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