Agência Brasil
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Secret letters reveal John Paul II's relationship with woman

Mon 15 Feb 2016
By Antony Bushfield

Letters between Pope John Paul II and a married woman have been uncovered.

The documents appear to show a 30-year long loving relationship between the now saint and Polish-born American philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka.

Notes seen by the BBC's Panorama programme detail a friendship which began in 1973 when the woman contacted the then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, about a book he had written.

The pair then met in Poland to discuss the book before starting to correspond by mail for some time.

Panorama will claim the letters were formal at first but became more intimate over time. There is no suggestion the saint broke his vow of celibacy.

In one letter in 1974 the pope said he was re-reading some of Ms Tymieniecka's notes because they were "so meaningful and deeply personal".

Photographs also uncovered show how Pope John Paul II invited the woman on country walks, skiing holidays and a camping trip.

Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity at Cambridge University, told the programme: "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."

Some of the letters appear to suggest the pontiff was struggling with the extent of their relationship.

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 sent the woman a scapular, a devotional necklace, which it's claimed was one of his most treasured possessions.

In another from later that same month he said: "Already last year I was looking for an answer to these words, 'I belong to you', and finally, before leaving Poland, I found a way - a scapular.

"The dimension in which I accept and feel you everywhere in all kinds of situations, when you are close, and when you are far away."

After becoming Pope he said: "I am writing after the event, so that the correspondence between us should continue. I promise I will remember everything at this new stage of my journey."

The BBC said it had been given access to the letters by the National Library of Poland which had held them in secret for many years.

Pope John Paul II died in 2005 and became a saint in 2014.

The National Library of Poland disputes claims to be made by Panorama and said the relationship was not unique.

The Associate Editor of the Catholic Herald, Madeleine Teahan, said on Twitter the story was "looking thinner and thinner".

She added: "It is standard for Poles to begin their letters "Kochana"-"my dear" to friends & family".

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