Media as well as a large number of media consumers love news that brings out scandal. Media outlets make money through when they initiate gossip about religious people. The higher profile they are, the higher sells they make.
Early this week international and local media spoke of “love letters” exchanged between Pope John Paul II and his long time friend Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, a Polish-born philosopher married to an American professor. An Ugandan newspaper titled the article “intense” relationship. But we can objectively say that we have learn something deeply human about him the saintly pope rather than we have been scandalous. These letters now owned by the Nation Library of Poland reveal Pontiff’s human and divine nature.
It should be noted that the friendship between John Paul II and Tymieniecka had been well-documented, it was open, transparent and well known to Pope’s close circle and beyond. The world knew the popular pontiff as a man of extraordinary charisma who helped bring down the Iron Curtain created by communism. Catholic and people beyond the Church know well that with his deep, almost monastic spirituality the Pontiff led the Church for over 30 years. They are almost superhuman achievements. In deed he is worthy of being called John Paul the Great.
In the past days many eminent people have spoken about this matter first brought out by BBC One. Cardinal Vincent Nicholas of England expressed his opinion that ‘The letters contain no evidence of sexual scandal but do reveal a complex relationship.’ He tweeted, “We love Pope St. John Paul II: faithful to God, faithful to his vows, faithful to his loving friends.” A priest responded to the tweet: “Thank you Eminence for speaking out!”
These private letters about 350 were written between 1973 and 2004; many of them were written when the Pope was Cardinal of Krakow, Poland. The correspondence gives a new insight into a deep friendship between two people who grew in mutual affection and respect while collaborating on a philosophy book together when John Paul II was still Cardinal Wojtyla. When Anna-Theresa wanted to sell these letters they were all bought by the National Library of Poland.
Speaking on the relationship the BBC broadcaster Ed Stourton rightly remarked, “defies definition”, “They were more than friends and less than lovers”. On this ground Vatican has called the whole episode as “more smoke than fire”. Now we can conclude that this friendship evidence of how two deeply spiritual and intelligent people struggled with a mutual attraction whose strength could have been devastating, but who were able to deal with it within the framework of their Christian faith.
Now it is a lesson for all of us that Christian faith promotes relationship that strengthens faith of one another though the individuals could walk different walks of life. It is also important that we keep our relationship in right perspective and help each other to grow in faith and witness to Christ’s own love for Church.