Vatican journalists remember John Paul II in new book

Giovanni Paolo II, raccontato da chi lo ha ‘raccontato’”, edited by Angela Ambrogetti and Raffaele Iaria.

A newly published book gathers the memories of 13 journalists and communications specialists about John Paul II, including those of Fr. Giorgio Costantino, spokesman of the Synod of Bishops.

“Giovanni Paolo II, raccontato da chi lo ha ‘raccontato’”, or “John Paul II, as reported by those who ‘reported’ him”, edited by Angela Ambrogetti and Raffaele Iaria and published by Tau Editrice, discusses the 26-year pontificate of Bl. John Paul II, who will be canonized together with John XXIII April 27.

Among the contributors are Emanuele Roncalli, Gian Franco Svidercoschi, and Fr. Costantino, who has been the Synod of Bishops’ representative since 1990.

Fr. Costantino’s chapter shares stories of Bl. John Paul II’s commitment to the synod, which he knew “very well, as he had taken part in each of the assemblies except the first one, in 1967.”

“He had in fact been invited to that assembly,” Fr. Costantino wrote, “but he chose not to take part, out of solidarity with Cardinal Wyszynski, Primate of Poland, whom the (communist) Polish authorities denied a visa to go to Rome.”

This story, he recounted, was told “during a dinner the Pope shared with spokesmen of various languages and the then-director of the Holy See press office, Joaquin Navarro Valls.”

Bl. John Paul II often shared his views during meals, which were an occasion for informal exchanges with those working at the Synod of Bishops.

“At the final lunch of the 1990 Synod of Bishops, John Paul II spoke off the cuff, stressing that he ‘noted an increasing spirituality and maturity. My hopes have not been vain. This tool of the collegiality of bishops is efficient’”, recounted Fr. Costantino.

According to Fr. Costantino, the late Pope held the synod to express apostolic tradition as well as a collegial and primatial structure.

He also related that Bl. John Paul II would lunch with the spokesmen, “asking for information about each Vaticanista. He showed that he knew both their faces and names, and that he read their articles. It was an always-open window to the world.”


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In our time

Archbishop José H. Gomez

As I write, I’ve just read the sad news that 90 Christians have been kidnapped from two villages in Syria. Of course we were all shocked earlier this month by the news that 21 Coptic Christians were executed in Syria — killed, as Pope Francis said, “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 

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March 3, 2015

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