By Chiara Santomiero
ROME, MARCH 1, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The process leading to the May 1 beatification of Pope John Paul II has shown that there was no distinction between the private life of the Pontiff and his public one. According to the postulator of his cause, the process has been “a confirmation of the total transparency of his life as a man and a priest.”
This was the reflection shared by Monsignor Sławomir Oder at a conference last Friday in Rome. “There wasn’t a public Wojtyła and a private one,” he said. “The opinion about him developed by the world during his more than 26 years of pontificate has been shown to be true.”
According to the monsignor, the media didn’t “create” a likable, fervent, engaging Pope. Rather, those qualities were the essence of his person.
The beatification process has also confirmed a “real treasure,” according to Monsignor Oder. It has shown that the source of the Holy Father’s consistency, energy, enthusiasm and depth was his “encounter with God, his falling in love with Christ and knowing he was loved by Him.”
The postulator recounted something Karol Wojtyła once said: “They try to understand me from outside […] but I can only be understood from within."
Prayer was the “air he breathed, the water he drank, the food that nourished him,” Monsignor Oder stated, a prayer that endured until the last hour of his agony.
As many witnesses attested, for John Paul II “the first task of the Pope for the Church and the world is to pray.”
“It was from prayer that the fecundity of his action stemmed,” the monsignor affirmed. When the Pontiff asked collaborators to suggest solutions to particular problems and they said they had not found any, he would repeat to them, “They will be found when we have prayed more.”
Free for truth
Monsignor Oder also attributed John Paul II’s “capacity to tell the truth without fear” to his prayer, “because only one who is before God does not fear men.”
His inner freedom was also expressed in his detachment from material possessions, the postulator continued, calling the Pope a “man of radical poverty.”
He explained how witnesses from Krakow recall laundering new clothes several times so they appeared used, thereby tricking Karol Wojtyła into accepting them instead of promptly give them to the poor.
His inner liberty was also exercised in relation to others, the monsignor said. The Pope was a man who knew how to accept criticism, and he would not shun a difficult position out of fear — neither fear of authorities during his years in Poland, nor of public opinion during his years as Pope.
Success was never his objective, Monsignor Oder said. Rather, it was “to proclaim the truth of the Gospel and to defend the truth about man.”
From this liberty, he continued, founded on his relationship with God, “was born the cry, ‘do not be afraid,’ the beginning and motto of his pontificate.”
Monsignor Oder described the Pope as someone who sought closeness with every person.
“Wojtyła, who very soon lost his natural family, had a strong sense of family and knew human warmth,” he said. And these familial bonds stretched beyond the confines of the Church.
Monsignor Oder recounted an encounter with a Jewish woman who told him she had lost her father twice: “The first time when her natural father died, and the second with the death of John Paul II.”
Free for suffering
The cross is another element in Wojtyła’s life that shouldn’t be overlooked, Monsignor Oder said.
He remembered how the Pope carried suffering “with dignity, and, at the end, in a silence that spoke more than words.”
The postulator reflected, “Millions of people in the world keep in their memory the image broadcast by TV of the Pope from behind in his private chapel, embracing the cross during the celebration of Good Friday.”
Monsignor Oder thus described the beatification process as more than a “bureaucratic examination.” Instead, he asserted, it restored “intensity and vigor” to aspects already known about Pope Wojtyła, and brought to light many more.