Film Reveals John Paul II's Courage, Says Pope

Views Documentary Based on «A Life With Karol»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2008 ( A documentary on the life of Pope John Paul II reveals the simplicity, courage and suffering of the man who marked the history of the world and the Church, says Benedict XVI

The Pope said this Thursday after attending a screening in Paul VI Hall of «Testimony,» a documentary based on the book «A Life with Karol» by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and the Italian journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi.

The Pontiff said after watching the film that it «takes our minds back to that late evening of 16 October 1978, 30 years ago today, which has remained engraved in everyone’s heart.»

On that day Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became the first Pole in history to be elected Pope. The current Pope recalled the words of John Paul II when he appeared before the faithful and said in Italian: «If I make a mistake [in Italian] you will correct me.»

Benedict XVI said the pontificate of John Paul II began with «Open the doors to Christ! Do not be afraid!» and ended with the words on his deathbed: «Let me go to the house of the Father.»

«Revealing previously unknown episodes,» the German Pontiff continued, «the film shows the human simplicity, the firm courage and, finally, the suffering of John Paul II, which he faced to the end with his inborn hardiness and the patience of a humble servant of the Gospel.»

In the film Cardinal Dziwisz reveals that a Spanish priest lightly wounded John Paul II during a visit to the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal. The priest was apprehended and sent to jail; the Pontiff was not seriously hurt, although blood was found on his vestments, and he was able to continue with his schedule.

Benedict XVI highlighted how John Paul II «marked the history of the Church and of the world in the last part of the 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium,» and that «thanks to this film» those who did not know him «have a way of appreciating his valor and evangelical passion.»

«The film also gives us a better understanding of John Paul II’s homeland, Poland, and of its cultural and religious traditions,» said the Pope. «It enables us to revisit famous events in ecclesial and civil life, and episodes of which most people are unaware. The whole story is recounted with the affection of one who shared closely in these events, living in the shadow of their protagonist.»

After thanking Cardinal Dziwisz, who remained at Karol Wojtyla’s side for 39 years, and the director of the film and his associates, the Pope reiterated John Paul II’s invitation, «do not be afraid,» and told those present to «bear witness to Christ courageously.»

«Testimony,» directed by the Polish director Pawel Pitera, was filmed in the Vatican, Krakow, Wadowice — the town where Karol Wojtyla was born — Portugal and Germany. It is narrated by Cardinal Dziwisz himself and by the English actor, Michael York.

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