Comment: Saint John Paul and his Critics

The Secret Letters of Pope John Paul II

Saint John Paul was a hypocrite who zealously defended celibacy for priests but had a difficult time living up to that standard himself. That is the message I got from the recent BBC Panorama programme on the Saint and his relationships with women, especially the married Polish philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka , who translated his book Person and Act into English, apparently rather badly. She called it The Acting Person, which led me to believe that it was about his theatre days in Poland. 

There was a rather tired "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" feel to the programme. "It goes without saying that he never broke his obligation of celibacy but...." It was presented by Edward Stourton, whose own marital difficulties have been well documented by the media, and most if not all those interviewed would probably call themselves liberal and proud. One can almost hear them saying: "It is the husband I feel sorry for." Why did he not interview at least a few on the other side: George Weigel, for example?

During his lifetime, we were told that John Paul was an elderly celibate who never understood women and therefore should not have tackled issues like abortion and contraception. Now we are told that he was rather too close to them. Poor old John Paul is placed in a no win situation.

The truth is that he was an extraordinary person who had profound friendships with both men and women. The woman at the centre of the programme never felt that there was a romantic relationship and neither did her husband. The language in John Paul's letters reveal a man of deep feeling but little else. Those of us who saw him even from a distance knew that we were in the company of a man who loved God and the world- because of and not despite his celibacy.His relationships with women were well known and,despite THAT picture, he never went camping with them alone.

So why are they after John Paul? Because, had it not been for his Familiaris Consortio, the liberals would almost certainly have won at the recent Synod on the Family. Tarnish a man's reputation and his ideas, which rather resemble those of Christ, would come crashing down. Be prepared: they will keep telling us that a man who defended marriage as a life-long union of one man and one woman was busy trying to destroy marriages in his personal life.

A further comment from the USA can be found at

Comment by Dr Pravin Thevathasan