Benedict XVI Watches Film on John Paul II

Says Predecessor Has Special Bond With Faithful

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 18, 2005 ( After watching the television film «John Paul II,» Benedict XVI thanked God publicly for having given the world such a man.

Thousands attended the showing Thursday afternoon in Paul VI Hall, including actor Jon Voight, who plays Pope John Paul II in the production.

Benedict XVI, who often held his face with his left hand resting his elbow on the arm of the seat, did not miss a moment of the film on Karol Wojtyla, which includes the main events of his papacy, including the 1981 assassination attempt.

Many details of the life of the Polish Pope were included, thanks to collaboration with the director of the Vatican press office, Joaquín Navarro Valls, and John Paul II’s longtime personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.

«Watching this film,» Benedict XVI said, «has renewed in me and, I think, in everyone who had the gift of knowing him, a sense of profound gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world a Pope of such an exalted human and spiritual stature.» The Holy Father also thanked the producers and cast of the movie.

He added that «over and above any specific evaluation, I feel the film constitutes further proof … of the love people have for Pope John Paul II, and of their great desire to remember him, to see him again, to feel him close.»

Spiritual connection

«This phenomenon,» continued Benedict XVI, «clearly has an intimate spiritual dimension, which we here in the Vatican see every day watching the multitudes of pilgrims who come to pray, or just to pay rapid homage, at his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes.»

«That affective and spiritual bond with John Paul II, which became even closer during the period of his final illness and death, was not interrupted.

«It has never been broken, because it is a bond between souls, between the great soul of the Pope and the souls of innumerable believers; between his fatherly heart and the hearts of countless men and women of good will who recognized in him a friend, and a defender of man, of truth, of justice, of freedom and of peace.»

«All over the world, many people admired in him above all the coherent and generous witness to God,» Benedict XVI said.

Lux Vide and RAI Italian public television produced the film, in collaboration with other European television channels, and CBS in the United States.

Voight, in an interview with Reuters, said that he had «a wonderful time doing the Pope, maybe because I understood … what he was,» referring to his own Catholic upbringing.

The four-hour miniseries will be broadcast Dec. 4 and Dec. 7 in the United States on CBS.

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