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World Pope John Paul II: Letters Reveal 'Extraordinary' Relationship With Married Woman



Pope John Paul II had a close relationship with a married woman which lasted over 30 years, according to letters which feature in a documentary being shown by the BBC on Monday.

Although the documentary does not claim he broke his vow of celibacy with Polish-born philosopher and writer Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, the tone of some of his letters to her points to intense feelings between them, the broadcaster says.

The two spent camping and skiing holidays together and went on country walks. In one letter from September 1976, he calls her a “gift from God”. “My dear Teresa,” he writes. “You write about being torn apart, but I could find no answer to these words.” Also in September 1976, he writes: “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.” A scapular is a piece of cloth worn as part of the habit of monastic orders and the then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla gave Tymieniecka his.


Edward Stourton, the senior BBC journalist who made the documentary, said more than 350 letters were found at the National Library of Poland, the first dated in 1973 and the last a few months before his death in 2005. “I would say there were more than friends but less than lovers,” he said.

Pope John Paul II died in 2005, after an almost 27-year reign. In 2014 he was declared a saint.

The process of saint-making is usually long and very costly, but John Paul II was fast-tracked to sainthood in just nine years.

Read more: BBC