New Book Seen as a Key to Understanding Pontificate

Krakow Experience Inspired World Youth Days, Says Papal Spokesman

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2004 ( A key to understanding many of the ideas and initiatives of John Paul II’s pontificate can be found in his latest book, says a Vatican spokesman.

Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican press office, made that observation at the official presentation in Rome of «Arise! Let Us Go!» In the book the Pope recalls his years as bishop of Krakow, 1958-1978.

Navarro-Valls cited the example of the World Youth Days, one of the most unexpected successes of this pontificate. The Youth Days were inspired by Karol Wojtyla’s episcopal experience and meetings with young people in Krakow.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who also attended the presentation Tuesday, said: «For me, this book is extremely interesting for bishops. John Paul II teaches them how to be bishops, and he teaches from his experience. He shows the way they must follow with an evangelical, human and transparent style.»

The cardinal said the book is also of interest for the laity to «understand something of what happens in the heart of a bishop.»

«I think that the question arises spontaneously: From where did this Pope get so much courage?» Cardinal Re responded: «From the fortitude of faith and the sense of responsibility that a bishop feels and that must inspire him not to be afraid when the truth must be proclaimed or values or persons be defended.»

Marcello Pera, the president of the Italian Senate, was also on hand. Pera said that the book is not, properly speaking, an autobiography, but rather an evangelical education illustrated with episodes of life, something akin to what occurs in the Scriptures.

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