Pope John Paul II’s Intimate Relationship With A Married Woman Revealed

Hundreds of letters and photographs that tell the story of
Pope John Paul II’s close relationship with a married woman, which lasted more
than 30 years, have been shown to the BBC.
The letters to Polish-born American philosopher Anna-Teresa
Tymieniecka had been kept away from public view in the National Library of
Poland for years.
The documents reveal a rarely seen side of the pontiff, who
died in 2005.
There is no suggestion the Pope broke his vow of celibacy. The
friendship began in 1973 when Ms Tymieniecka contacted the future Pope,
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, then Archbishop of Krakow, about a book on philosophy
that he had written.

The then 50-year-old travelled from the US to Poland to
discuss the work.
Shortly afterwards, the pair began to correspond. At first
the cardinal’s letters were formal, but as their friendship grew, they become
more intimate.
The pair decided to work on an expanded version of the
cardinal’s book, The Acting Person. They met many times – sometimes with his
secretary present, sometimes alone – and corresponded frequently.
In 1974, he wrote that he was re-reading four of Ms
Tymieniecka’s letters written in one month because they were “so
meaningful and deeply personal”.
Photographs which have never been seen before by the public
reveal Karol Wojtyla at his most relaxed. He invited Ms Tymieniecka to join him
on country walks and skiing holidays – she even joined him on a group camping
trip. The pictures also show her visiting him at the Vatican.
“Here is one of the handful of transcendentally great
figures in public life in the 20th Century, the head of the Catholic Church, in
an intense relationship with an attractive woman,” says Eamon Duffy,
Professor of the History of Christianity at Cambridge University.
In 1976, Cardinal Wojtyla attended a Catholic conference in
the US. Ms Tymieniecka invited him to stay with her family at their country
home in New England.
She appeared to have revealed intense feelings for him
because his letters immediately afterwards suggest a man struggling to make
sense of their friendship in Christian terms.
In one, dated September 1976, he writes: “My dear
Teresa, I have received all three letters. You write about being torn apart,
but I could find no answer to these words.”
He describes her as a “gift from God”.
The BBC has not seen any of Ms Tymieniecka’s letters. It is
believed copies of them were included in the archive that was sold to the
Polish National Library by Ms Tymieniecka in 2008, six years before she died.
But they were not with the Pope’s letters when the BBC was shown them. The
National Library of Poland has not confirmed that they have Ms Tymieniecka’s
Marsha Malinowski, a rare manuscripts dealer who negotiated
the sale of the letters, says she believes Ms Tymieniecka fell in love with Cardinal
Wojtyla in the early days of their relationship. “I think that it’s
completely reflected in the correspondence,” she told the BBC.
The letters reveal that Cardinal Wojtyla gave Ms Tymieniecka
one of his most treasured possessions, an item known as a scapular – a small
devotional necklace worn around the shoulders.

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