The National Library of Poland has contested the findings of a BBC Panorama programme to be aired tonight, claiming that the relationship between a Polish philosopher and St John Paul II "have no basis in the content" of the letters that the pair wrote to each other.
According to the broadcaster Ed Stourton, the relationship between Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka and St John Paul II "defies definition" but he claimed in The Tablet that they were "more than friends and less than lovers".
The National Library of Poland bought the letters from Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka in 2008, but they are not on public view. The BBC gained access to them for the programme that will be aired on BBC One tonight.
"The statements made in the media have no basis in the content of the letters of John Paul II to Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka which are in the National Library of Poland’s archives," a statement for the library said. "The friendship described in the media is well known and has been presented in many publications.
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"John Paul II was surrounded by a circle of friends – including clergymen, nuns and laypeople - with whom he stayed in close contact. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka was within this circle of friends – John Paul II’s friendship with her was neither secret nor extraordinary."
The Vatican has reportedly dismissed the alleged findings of the Panorama programme as "more smoke than fire".
The letters do not contain any evidence of a sexual scandal but, according to people who have seen them, they do contain evidence of how two deeply spiritual and intelligent people struggled with a mutual attraction.
Tymieniecka visited John Paul II in hospital on 1 April 2005. He died the following day.