‘I Was Pope John Paul II’s Girlfriend’ Tonight on BBC

‘I Was Pope John Paul II’s Girlfriend’ Tonight on BBC

[John Paul “The Great Lover” or “Don Juan” Pablo?]

By: JNi.Media
Published: February 15th, 2016

Cardinal Wojtyla and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka on a camping trip in 1978

The Vatican has rejected as “more smoke than fire” a BBC documentary to be screened Monday, which promises to probe the late Polish pontiff John Paul II’s romantic liaison with married, Polish-born philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka. “The Secret Letters of Pope John Paul II” sheds new light on the pope’s emotional ties with Tymieniecka, who kept every shred of paper and celluloid related to her 32-year friendship with John Paul II.

After her death, an enormous treasure trove of photographs was found among her possessions, showing Karol Wojtyla (a.k.a. JP II) on a ski slope, in shorts on a lake-side, and later in his life, in his living quarters.

In 2008, Tymieniecka sold her archive of letters to the Polish National Library, which kept them from public view until the BBC was invited to take a peek.

When Tymieniecka met Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in 1973, he was the Archbishop of Krakow. She, like him, had endured the Nazi occupation during WW2. After the war she pursued an academic career in philosophy in the US, where she married and had three children.

For four years Cardinal Wojtyla and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka collaborated on an English-language version of a book on philosophy he had written while teaching at Lublin University The relationship, however, was much deeper than a mere collaboration, and continued for many years afterwards.

The first hint of intimacy between them came in a letter sent from Rome, where Cardinal Wojtyla was attending a meeting of Catholic bishops in the autumn of 1974. He took several of Tymieniecka’s letters with him to answer them “without using the mail.” They are described by him as being “so meaningful and deeply personal, even if they are written in philosophical ‘code.’”

It is quite clear that at one point, around 1976, she declared her feelings for him, because a letter he wrote to her afterwards suggested he was trying hard to make sense of their relationship in Christian terms. He wrote that she was “a gift from God,” and that “if I did not have this conviction, some moral certainty of Grace, and of acting in obedience to it, I would not dare act like this.”

When he was elected Pope, John Paul wrote to Tymieniecka to say that he wanted their connection to continue. But they had a falling out when the Vatican mounted a legal challenge against the publishing of their book, and she was accused of distorting his ideas. The pope did not defend her good name and she felt betrayed. But when John Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the early 1990s, she visited him frequently. Her last visit was on the day before he died in 2005.

Cardinal Karol with Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka on a skiing trip

Pope John Paul II with with Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka in the Vatican

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12 comments on “‘I Was Pope John Paul II’s Girlfriend’ Tonight on BBC

  1. At the very least the behavior described in this article by a priest, bishop, cardinal and pope would have to be classified as scandalous and the fact that it is attributed to a pronounced saint is incredulous. May God have mercy on his soul.

    • It used to be that the church waited about 100 years before canonizing anyone so that gossip like this would not emerge. It is a bad idea to do anything during the lifetime of people living who knew him personally or lived during the pope’s lifetime. Also, there used to be a devil’s advocate present before canonizing anyone. Now, you can see what happens with doing things too early. Perhaps just keeping the biblical saints and the old saints from long ago is better. The way technology is today makes things too risky to be careless in deciding who is a saint today. Someone can come up with some gossip, etc. I wonder who took the pictures anyway? That is the cause of the scandal, too. It is weird that the cardinal would allow anyone to take a picture like the ones above and think that no scandal could come of it.

  2. I do not agree that there was anything immoral in this relationship from the Pope’s part. John Paul II had many close relationships with friends both male and female.
    He most often went on ski and camping outings with friends or groups of young people. Some of his closest friends where philosophers , and I attended a lecture in DC a few years ago where a philosopher friend of his, a male ,told of having long talks about philosophy with him at night in a public park, and getting locked in, but they were able to leave through a break in a hedge. John Paul II had a greater mind and also lived at a higher spiritual level than what we are used to . In another account , a male philosopher friend mentioned opening a closet door by mistake when leaving a lecture site, and finding John Paul II alone, and very deeply ‘lost’ in prayer. It is possible that some women had inordinate attractions to him, but I do not believe that he cultivated anything impure in relationships; yet I do not believe he was scrupulous or had any psychological problems in relating to women.

  3. Just for the record I did not use the word “immoral” but I stand by the word scandalous. The nuns that taught me the fundamentals of the Faith in the 40s and 50s would have been scandalized, I assure you.

    • What is an occasion of sin for some or even for most is not necessarily an occasion of sin for each or in all circumstances.
      In the 60’s some parish priests married nuns. Their preceding friendships were neither professional nor pastoral as I believe John Paul ii’s relationships were. Thankfully most of the nuns were aware of the danger of too familiar relationships with priests and were cautious.

      • It is quite clear that at one point, around 1976, she declared her feelings for him, because a letter he wrote to her afterwards suggested he was trying hard to make sense of their relationship in Christian terms.

        A cardinal, two years away from being pope, is “trying to make sense” of a babe in love with him? That’s a clear red flag for a man with a red hat. He never should have let it get that far, and surely should have shut it down right then.

        She’s our of line, too. What did she expect?

  4. Father Mulcahy, S.J.: It should be pointed out that if there were in fact anything improper, immodest, or impure in their relationship that the Masses said by the Holy Father were still valid and it would not interfere with his capacity as Pope to speak ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals, just as in the case of Pope Alexander VI, Roderic Borgia, the father of Lucrezia Borgia….

    Father O’Malley: That’s an interesting point, Father. And one we should consider carefully before jumping to conclusions or any rash judgments.

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: On the other hand, there is still plenty of room to be critical of John Paul’s phenomenology and personalism….

    • … and not to mention his appreciation for nudity, theoretical, of course — but then, there are the topless lectress ordeals.

    • Why don’t we just focus on living people now. Nothing can be done to fish through things about past popes who are being judged by God anyway. Let us influence people who are living to become better. Let us focus on Pope Francis and maybe helping him to be better interpreted by the media rather than weird rumors about things. We can maybe change living people but not dead ones and anyway, I am tired of gossip. I do not want to know about Pope John Paul’s weaknesses as he is not with us in the physical sense anyway. I would rather move on to things that can be made better.

  5. Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Of course, his dissertations “The Doctrine of Faith in St. John of the Cross” under Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome and “Reevaluation of the possibility of founding a Catholic ethic on the ethical system of Max Scheler” presuppose some notion of Catholic identity which might challenge certain university presidents transforming Catholic education for the global economy. This is a time of discernment and reflection, as well as mercy….

  6. I do not accuse the Pope of any sin, however, just from the statements made in the article above, it seems that Pope St John-Paul II perhaps should have used more discretion, in particular being careful never to be alone for any period, and certainly not going on a camping trip, with this woman.

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