ROME Karol Wojtyla is beatified, and the research on what happened behind the scenes of his pontificate continues. This is the subject of Secret Wojtyla (Chiarelettere pp. 315, 16 Euros), the book written by La Stampa Vatican correspondent Giacomo Galazzi and journalist Ferruccio Pinotti, proposed as a â??counterinvestigationâ?? into John Paulâ??s pontificate. The book confirms that the Archbishop of Krakow, kept under strict surveillance by the Communist secret police since he was a young priest, had a way of making himself known and appreciated, even outside the Church, well before 1978. The authors dwell particularly on the future Popeâ??s second trip to the United States in July 1976. On that trip Wojtyla met one of the most important figures in Atlantic foreign affairs at the time, the Polish-American Zbigniew Brzezinski, Security Advisor for then-President Jimmy Carter, who had intuited before others the strategic importance of Poland as the Achilleâ??s heel of the Communist colossus. Brzezinski does not confirm the existence of a â??secret planâ?? that linked him to Wojtyla in the plan to bring down the totalitarianism of the Iron Curtain (the Soviets came to say that John Paul II had been elected with the help of the Americans for the purpose of overthrowing Communism) but does not escape Galeazzi and Pinottiâ??s questions on his relationship with the Archbishop of Krakow. He tells of meeting him at a conference at Harvard at which the future Pope spoke in 1976: â??He immediately recognized my surname, as I was also the subject of frequent attacks in the Polish Communist and Soviet mass media. He invited me to tea - I was grateful for the invitation and we had a private meeting for over an hour. I left impressed not only by his evident religious faith but also his political astuteness.â?? Brzezinski preferred not to say what they discussed in that meeting. He continues: â??Some time later, when I was National Security Advisor to the White House, Wojtyla was elected Pope. I remember that I interrupted a session of the National Security Council to call President Carter at Camp David. He asked me what I knew about the new Pope and I told him what I knew about Wojtyla: a theologian, a former working priest, a man of deep faith, a very strong personal character, a figure admired by young people and viewed with distaste by the Communist authorities. A man, a Pope, with an expansive political vision.â?? The former National Security advisor adds: â??In the following years I got to know Wojtyla on a very private level and I always had very warm and friendly feelings toward him. And he, if I may say so, returned them in words, gestures, and letters.â?? He also recounts a joke that John Paul II had told in a meeting in the Vatican in the eighties: â??Since by now everyone knows that you were the one who made me Pope, you should come see me more often!â?? As for Wojtylaâ??s role in the fall of Communism, Brzezinski offers this interpretation: â??I believe that Pope Wojtyla first of all strengthened the confidence of the Polish nation, convincing citizens that their disapproval of Communism was universally shared and that the entire world and the Catholic Church supported Poland. This had an incredible transformative effect - it was an impressive catalyzer of energy. Faith was certainly a decisive factor, a fundamental source of purpose, meaning and direction in the Popeâ??s personal life, just as in his actions out in the world.â?? So much for the conspiracy theories. The history of the most recent conclaves show that the cardinals were extremely jealous of their autonomy and to imagine, as one can read in the KGB files, that Washington could direct the votes of the cardinals â?? who, moreover, before electing the Polish Archbishop, would try in vain to choose another Italian â?? is fine for a Dan Brown novel, but not for history.
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