A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
Up Close With Postulator of John Paul II's Sainthood Cause

Part 1

Monsignor Oder Discusses the Pontiff's Beatification Process

By Anita S. Bourdin and Sergio Mora
VATICAN CITY, 7 APRIL 2011 (ZENIT)
One the greatest treasures that came to light during John Paul II's beatification process was his close, personal and profound relationship with Christ, says the postulator of the Pontiff's cause.
Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is also the judicial vicar of the court of appeal of the Diocese of Rome, revealed to ZENIT that John Paul II was "a man who lived in the presence of God, who let himself be guided by the Holy Spirit, who was in constant dialogue with the Lord, and who built his whole life around the question [asked to Peter]: 'Do you love me?'"

John Paul II died April 2, 2005, at the age of 84. The cause for his beatification began on June 28, 2005, after Benedict XVI waived the customary five-year waiting period before a beatification process can begin. He will be beatified May 1 in Rome.

Leading up to the Pontiff's beatification, ZENIT is presenting a four-part interview with Monsignor Oder in which he reflects on the Pope's beatification process, and the aspects of John Paul II's life that most impressed him. Part 2 of this interview will appear Friday.

ZENIT: In what way have you, as a priest, lived this process? Was it a cross, a joy, has it transformed you?

Monsignor Oder: The cross is always the prelude of joy; we experience this during Easter. On the other hand, there is no true joy, as the transfiguration of Jesus teaches us, without passing through the cross.

The task that was entrusted to me had its paschal aspects, if for no other reason than because it was superimposed on the work I ordinarily carry out as judicial vicar and the pastoral activity I am engaged in as rector of a parish in Rome. My days have been full these past five years! Also, the process itself presented some elements that implied a great effort and involvement, even on the emotional level. So, the moments of difficulty weren't lacking.

ZENIT: It seems as if the process of canonization for John Paul II is a "fait accompli." Is the Pope being given preferential treatment, or is the canonization process following the normal route?

Monsignor Oder: Yes, absolutely. The only dispensation that was obtained in this process was the dispensation from the [five-year] waiting period to begin. But the process itself was carried out, absolutely, in full observance of the canonical norms. Therefore, there was no real dispensation, or preferential treatment, in this sense.

Instead, what we can say is that the practice of the [Congregation for Saints' Causes] is to go ahead with cases that, in addition to the [declaration of] heroic virtue, already have a miracle, which are two different processes.

Normally, the process takes place in this way: the diocesan investigation is carried out, the documentation is transmitted to the Congregation for Saints' Causes, where the positio [the documentation that proves the heroic exercise of virtue] is prepared, which is then subjected to the discussion of theologians and cardinals. The discussion of the positio must normally wait because a miracle is necessary [for the cause to advance].

[For John Paul II], the positio went ahead and was immediately subjected to the discussion of theologians and cardinals because the miracle [attributed to the Pope] happened very soon. In fact, the paperwork on the miracle was submitted to the Congregation for Saints' Causes the day before the documentation on the virtues, and this made it possible for the cause to advance.

ZENIT: How much time passed from John Paul II's death to the presentation of the miracle?

Monsignor Oder: The miracle, recognized as such, happened in July [2005].

ZENIT: And after how much time was it recognized?

Monsignor Oder: We concluded the process in 2007. The miracle was presented the day before the closing of the diocesan investigation on the virtues, which ended in June 2007.

ZENIT: Were other miracles presented?

Monsignor Oder: There were so many graces and also alleged miracles. Some were examined more in-depth, because this is the practice. Before carrying out a study on a miracle, a prior study is done which in some way guarantees the process itself. In some cases we did further studies and the preliminary statements were good, but we did not continue to study them because the study on the miracle that had been chose was already under way.

ZENIT: Can you tell us in what countries these miracles happened?

Monsignor Oder: They were verified in France, in the United States, in Germany and in Italy.

ZENIT: Was a further medical study necessary?

Monsignor Oder: It is a normal that in the process regarding the miracle an investigation is carried out and that the material is then subjected to the study of doctors. It is obvious that a doctor can ask for clarifications, additional documentation and supplementary analyses. It is all very normal. All the investigations that were carried out were considered appropriate by the doctors involved in the process.

ZENIT: Then there wasn't really a shadow of a doubt?

Monsignor Oder: You ask me questions that I cannot answer because they are covered by the secret of the process and because they are not known to me. These particulars are the competence of the doctors.

ZENIT: Did you discover things that you didn't previously know about John Paul II — a private side that was never shown in public?

Monsignor Oder: The process was clearly a beautiful adventure, because a person is never known through and through. And it is clear that so many aspects affected the particulars of his life, the activities and personal contacts he had. However, I would say that it is an adventure that could be undertaken with each person, who is a world unto himself.

With regard to what emerged in the context of the process of beatification, there was nothing outstanding in the sense that, effectively, Wojtyla was the way we knew him in public. So there was no split personality, but rather a perfect transparency of the person. Undoubtedly, however, the process did bring to light many aspects.

ZENIT: Is there an aspect that you didn't know and that particularly struck you?

Monsignor Oder: The aspect that amazed me, which also happens to be the most important aspect of his life, was the discovery that the source and origin of his extraordinary activity, of his generosity in acting, of the depth of his thought, was his relationship with Christ. What came to light was certainly a mystic. A mystic in the sense that he was a man who lived in the presence of God, who let himself be guided by the Holy Spirit, who was in constant dialogue with the Lord, who built his whole life around the question [asked to Peter]: "Do you love me?" His life was the answer to this essential question posed by the Lord. I think this aspect is the greatest treasure of the process.

ZENIT: And because of being a mystic, he often found himself alone...

Monsignor Oder: The encounter with the Lord is always a solitary path. We are, clearly, supported by the Church, by brothers in the faith, but then every one of us must travel on that path. Moreover, his relationship [with Christ] was truly personal and individual, and very profound. Those who worked with him would often recount that they would have a clear sense of being before a moment of what we could call a "raptus mistico," in which [John Paul II] was in such a profound dialogue with the Lord that the only thing one could do was to stand back and let him live this moment.

ZENIT: And in that dialogue, was there something that for John Paul II was a cross? For example, he spoke often about the suffering of solidarity. Were there things on this point that troubled him at times?

Monsignor Oder: Look, a man with as great a sensitivity as his could not be indifferent in the face of the sufferings of the world. And we were witnesses to that; he was very vigilant, attentive to anything that happened in the world. He was not afraid to raise his voice and say things that were not in line with the common way of thinking. It is enough to recall his heartbreaking appeal for peace on the eve of the Gulf conflict, when he said "I belong to the generation that knows war." They were very strong words. Surely it was a thought that did not go down well with the politically correct.

Undoubtedly, what he always had in his heart as a great concern was the silent genocide that goes on with abortion. The question about the richness of human life from conception was certainly a constant cross and a suffering in his life.
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Part 2

Monsignor Oder Discusses the Trials of a Young Polish Pope

By Anita S. Bourdin and Sergio Mora

VATICAN CITY, 8 APRIL 2011 (ZENIT)
Having been elected Pope at the age of 58, John Paul II brought a freshness the Church that helped it to successfully address the many challenges of the modern age, says the postulator of the Pontiff's cause.

Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is also the judicial vicar of the court of appeal of the Diocese of Rome, told ZENIT that John Paul II "providentially brought to his Petrine ministry the energy of a young man; he was a young Pope."

John Paul II died April 2, 2005, at the age of 84, after having completed a 26-year pontificate. The cause for his beatification began on June 28, 2005, after Benedict XVI waived the customary five-year waiting period before a beatification process can begin. He will be beatified May 1 in Rome.
Leading up to the Pontiff's beatification, ZENIT is presenting a four-part interview with Monsignor Oder in which he reflects on the challenges that faced the young John Paul II in the early years of his pontificate, and the influences of his early life. Part 3 of this interview will appear Sunday.

ZENIT: How did the Polish authorities see John Paul II? Did he slip by them under the radar, or did he not attract their attention?

Monsignor Oder: They were afraid. In fact, there are traces in the documentation of the Secret Services that speak of the danger of Karol Wojtyla. He was dangerous because he was a sublime intellectual, a man of dialogue; from the moral point of view he was unassailable. Precisely because of this he was dangerous. He was a man of weight; the weight of a man of God, a man of dialogue, of openness, absolutely prepared intellectually, superior, and yes, they feared him.

However I think that, as always, the Lord was greater than they were. The Evil One was doing his accounts and God was doing his accounts. Karol Wojtyla did not escape the attention of the Communists.

Perhaps they feared Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński more because he was, in fact, a different man; he was different also in the way he faced the authorities. And yet, Providence moved Wojtyla's history forward in the way we know.

I remember the embarrassment of the journalists when he was elected; they did not know how to transmit the news, which in any case was important for Poland. It was one of many news items they gave during the television newscast, but they had to report it.

Then I remember the first trip he made, it was overwhelming. They didn't know how to invite him, who should invite him. He was invited by the Church, but he was also a guest of the government. They found a diplomatic loophole so that he could come, because in any case, as a Pole, he could return. He wished to return and bring with him the leaven of the revolution of the spirit. In this first trip one could see how the Polish media was manipulated. If one sees shots of the broadcast, one sees only close-ups of the Pope or some elderly man, without seeing the millions of people who surrounded the Pope. No young faces, no families.

ZENIT: When John Paul II became Pope at the age of 58, the Church was facing a series of grave challenges that seemed to have no solution, and by the end of the pontificate so many steps had been taken to unite the Church and to resolve these problems.

Monsignor Oder: Yes, he was a Pope who providentially brought to his Petrine ministry the energy of a young man; he was a young Pope. He was also a Pope used to living a situation of confrontation with hostility: the Church in Poland in confrontation with Communism. [He was] a Pope of great intellectual, cultural and scientific preparation, a Pope of great sensitivity, including aesthetic, and mindful of so many values.

And he was able to give back freshness to the Church, always making reference to the freshness [the Church] was given by the Second Vatican Council. He was the Pope who actualized, who carried forward the thought of Vatican II. And in this regard he took ever so many steps, he undertook so many activities which were able, somewhat, to restore the boat of the Church.

ZENIT: One sees that the Church took a big step forward during the time of John Paul II's Pontificate.

Monsignor Oder: Certainly a renewal of the faith, of evangelical enthusiasm.

ZENIT: The Pope used to say that he was Pope because he was the bishop of Rome. How did he live this out?

Monsignor Oder: He felt himself very much the bishop of Rome, and he repeated this often, "I am Pope because I am the bishop of Rome." And this is how he approached his pontificate. He always maintained a particular interest in the diocese, and a sign of this were the numerous pastoral visits that he made.

ZENIT: There were two moments in which I saw the Holy Father almost angry: during an address in which he was defending the family and once when he was speaking out against the mafia in Sicily. In both cases was it because the value of life was at stake?

Monsignor Oder: Certainly, because of the value of life, but also because at stake was the truth about man. He was a Pope who built his pontificate in a very humanistic key, in the evangelical sense. His first encyclical, "Redemptor Hominis," gives a correct perspective on how to understand precisely the centrality of man who has, at the center of his existence, Christ himself. His was a Christian humanism. This concern of his for human life in all its dimensions stemmed from the Christian concept that he had about the value of life, for which the Savior gave his life.

ZENIT: It seems as if holiness ran in the family. Are there plans to begin the cause for the beatification of John Paul II's father [also named Karol Wojtyła], who was an extraordinary paternal figure who truly marked his son?

Monsignor Oder: Absolutely. But look, to see this family is to see how the Lord worked. John Paul II always said that his father was his first teacher of spirituality, first guide in the spiritual life, the first seminary he attended. No doubt he had this image of his father, this military man, soldier, who knelt down and prayed at night before the icon of the Virgin. These are things that remain in the heart of a boy. A man who accompanied his child by the hand on pilgrimage to Czestochowa. He initiated him in prayer. However, there was also the figure of his brother Edmund, who was also an uncommon figure. He dedicated himself completely to the service of charity and then paid the price [John Paul II's brother Edmund worked as a physician, and died of scarlet fever.]

ZENIT: It was John Paul II who wanted the beatification of the parents of Thérèse of Lisieux. Did he learn from his own family the value of the beatification of spouses?

Monsignor Oder: This is difficult for me to say, but no doubt he had an extraordinary example [of holy spouses] in his life. Nevertheless he gave clear signs of being truly convinced of the truth confirmed by Vatican Council II, namely, of the universal vocation to holiness of all Christians. With the number of beatifications and canonizations during his pontificate, which represented the entire spectrum of the Church, he gave a tangible sign that [holiness] is possible for everyone.

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Part 3

Monsignor Oder on the Pontiff's Cross

By Anita S. Bourdin and Sergio Mora

VATICAN CITY, 10 APRIL 2011 (ZENIT)
During his last days, Pope John Paul II gave his best spiritual exercises without saying a word, says the postulator of the Pontiff's cause.

Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is also the judicial vicar of the court of appeal of the Diocese of Rome, told ZENIT that the Pontiff was able to do this because of his capacity 'to speak, when he was mute, when he could no longer say anything, but he simply persevered, he stayed, he expressed his closeness, his love, his 'here I am' before the Lord."

John Paul II died April 2, 2005, at the age of 84, after having completed a 26-year pontificate. The cause for his beatification began on June 28, 2005, after Benedict XVI waived the customary five-year waiting period before a beatification process can begin. He will be beatified May 1 in Rome.
Leading up to the Pontiff's beatification, ZENIT is presenting a four-part interview with Monsignor Oder in which he reflects on the role of suffering and sacrifice during John Paul II's life. Part 4 of this interview will appear Monday.

ZENIT: How did John Paul II react to the sexual abuse crisis, which took place for the most part toward the end of his pontificate.

Monsignor Oder: It is enough to think of his reaction when the problem surfaced, such as the convocation of American bishops here in Rome to address the problem. When these painful situations came to his direct knowledge, one saw him overwhelmed and determined to give an appropriate answer.

He was the one who promulgated the new rules in regard to this type of crime, as a juridical instrument to resolve these situations.

ZENIT: The sufferings of this Pope were evident toward the end of his life, what can you tell us about the sacrifices he made throughout his pontificate.

Monsignor Oder: The suffering caused by his illness was an aspect that at the end of his days became almost an icon of his pontificate, but it wasn't the only dimension of mortification in his life. From his youth he was initiated into the Carmelite spirituality, he was fascinated by the Carmel, so much so that when he was still a boy he had some thoughts in mind of a Carmelite vocation. He remained fascinated by St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Ávila, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and then also the practices of personal penance were present in his life. This was an aspect that no one knew about, which we learned only in the context of the process, and I remember that it bothered many when it became known. And yet this was a sign of his profound faith, of his spiritual life.

ZENIT: In regard to suffering, I learned recently that already as bishop of Krakow he wrote a letter to the sick to ask them, to entrust to them, to their intercession, his episcopate. It is truly a key to the fecundity of this pontificate. Not only the sick Pope who shares in the cross, but who leans on this communion of the Church.

Monsignor Oder: Absolutely, but this is also the Christian sense of suffering. Not only did he entrust his ministry as bishop of Krakow to the sick. In the period in which the discussion of Vatican Council II was taking place, he asked the sick for their support to bring the council to a good end. He made them participants in this extraordinary event. I think the letter "Salvifici Doloris" gives an idea of John Paul II's vision of the Christian meaning of suffering, and as well as when he speaks of personal participation in the sufferings of Christ and the Gospel of the Good Samaritan, which was written virtually around this reality of suffering.

ZENIT: And furthermore, he founded the Good Samaritan Foundation for patients with AIDS.

Monsignor Oder: It must be remembered that in regard to the world of suffering, it was he who created the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

ZENIT: There was another painful case, that of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel. He knew about it at the end of his pontificate?

Monsignor Oder: We have carried out all the investigations that, of course, were geared to deepening the knowledge of this most painful case for the Church, which indeed exploded after John Paul II's death. However, it must be recalled that the investigations got under way during his pontificate. Nevertheless, from the investigations carried out on the basis of the documentation, we can exclude any personal involvement of the Holy Father in this affair, in the sense that his knowledge at the time that he died did not go beyond that which was commonly known.

ZENIT: He was somewhat of a "scandal" in the sense that in a world where everyone is afraid of growing old, of not being efficient, he carried his illness to the end, without hiding it in any way.

Monsignor Oder: Precisely this capacity of his to speak, when he was mute, when he could no longer say anything, but he simply persevered, he stayed, he expressed his closeness, his love, his "here I am" before the Lord, and perhaps he gave the greatest Spiritual Exercises without saying anything, simply as witness.

And then, yes, because it was precisely a very serene way of going forward with this reality that is part of the human experience, we can say it is a prospect of Christian life, suffering and death are also a part of life, naturally, as a passage. However, with this testimony, with his "not being embarrassed," he gave back hope to so many persons, above all he also gave back dignity to persons who, so often, are marginalized, shut out and hidden, almost as a disgrace because they are ill and old.

We are in a civilization that wishes, in some way, to charm death away. He went ahead with these signs of suffering, of the death that was approaching, making one understand that it is a stage of life.

ZENIT: Monsignor Oder, do you now feel unemployed, or are you now continuing the cause of canonization?

Monsignor Oder: As I have said, this work of postulator is added to other things, so I'm absolutely not thinking of remaining unemployed. In any case, if now the whole preparation of the event of the beatification is under way it, of course, also has the figure of the postulator involved in some aspects. Also, the mandate given to me was for the process of beatification and of canonization. This means that the stage of beatification has been achieved, this first moment is done, but the process proceeds until the canonization.

ZENIT: In regard to the beatification, how can a Christian who wishes to participate prepare himself for this event?

Monsignor Oder: This process of beatification has been for me personally a time of spiritual exercises that has enabled me to deepen both the reasons for my faith and the enthusiasm of my response to the Lord's call to become a priest. It was enhanced by the splendid encounter with the example of this fulfilled, happy priest, who gave his life for Christ and for the Church. The time we now have to prepare coincides with Lent, during which we undertake our spiritual journey, our journey of conversion, our journey to deepen our faith and love of Christ, to live truly a particular experience with the Lord's Easter that, in some way, will now be prolonged in this event of beatification.

When all is said and done, the Lord's Easter is the point of reference for the life of all Christians, which must be realized in the life of each one of us. Easter, the attainment of sanctity, and arriving to heaven, is the fulfillment of the Christian life. Hence, we can say that this year we have truly had the good fortune to live Lent looking at the Lord's Easter. It is a splendid testimony of this Easter.
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Part 4

Monsignor Oder Reflects on the Pope's Legacy of Mercy and Forgiveness

By Anita S. Bourdin and Sergio Mora

VATICAN CITY, 11 APRIL 2011 (ZENIT)
Even though Pope John Paul II was a true son of Poland who remained closely tied to his homeland and his culture, he was able to touch the lives people from all corners of the globe, says the postulator of the Pontiff's cause.

Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is also the judicial vicar of the court of appeal of the Diocese of Rome, told ZENIT that "because [the Pope] was so genuine in his love for his own homeland, he was able to inspire others to recognize their own identity, history, and roots. In a certain way he brought about this new sentiment in the Church of feeling oneself a child of God, and a brother to others."

John Paul II died April 2, 2005, at the age of 84, after having completed a 26-year pontificate. The cause for his beatification began on June 28, 2005, after Benedict XVI waived the customary five-year waiting period before a beatification process can begin. He will be beatified May 1 in Rome.
Leading up to the Pontiff's beatification, ZENIT is presenting a four-part interview with Monsignor Oder in which he reflects on the Pope's spiritual legacy of mercy and forgiveness, and his particularly strong relationship with young people.

ZENIT: There has been talk of the Holy Father's spiritual legacy of mercy. What was John Paul II's understanding of mercy?

Monsignor Oder: There are so many interventions of his that relate precisely to this aspect of mercy, of magnanimity, of the capacity to imitate the greatness of the love of God who bends down before mankind, who is weak and fragile. He himself said that forgiveness — and he said this in the letter he was thinking of publishing, the open letter to Ali Agca after the attack, and which then was not published — he said that forgiveness is the foundation of all true progress of human society.

Essentially, mercy means the understanding of weakness, the capacity to forgive. It also means the commitment not to receive in vain the grace that the Lord gives, but rather to produce in one's own life the fruits worthy of one who has been graced and covered by the mercy of God.

ZENIT: He also saw forgiveness as a political tool, and that forgiveness was what moved history forward.

Monsignor Oder: Yes, absolutely, because he had a Christian, theological vision of history in which not everything can be referred solely to mere economic or political matters, where the element of humanity, compassion, understanding, repentance, forgiveness, acceptance, solidarity, love, become the essential elements to engage in a true politics of God.

ZENIT: What is the impact of John Paul II's beatification on the Church in Poland?

Monsignor Oder: Certainly for Poland, it goes without saying, this is a milestone in our history and a very intense, important moment, but John Paul II is not a Polish phenomenon. This is the extraordinary thing, which struck me very much, and which is one of the elements of fascination of John Paul II. He was not ashamed to speak of his homeland, of its history, of using its language, of identifying himself also with the popular religiosity of Poland, to speak of his fellow countrymen. However, that man who felt so strongly tied to his nation, was also able to be a gift for others; John Paul II was a gift for humanity.

Not only Poland wept [when John Paul II died], also Mexico, and the entire world! He truly became a gift for humanity. This is precisely his greatness. Although remaining firmly his own person, he was able to receive people from all parts of the world. And because [the Pope] was so genuine in his love for his own homeland, he was able to inspire others to recognize their own identity, history, and roots. In a certain way he brought about this new sentiment in the Church of feeling oneself a child of God, and a brother to others.

There is a second aspect that relates precisely to Poland — and I must say that it inspired me — was when Pope Benedict XVI was elected. There were so many Poles in St. Peter's Square who came for the funeral and who stayed, because Rome had become for them a second homeland, thanks in part to the Roman spirit that is so hospitable, generous. At the moment of the election in St. Peter's Square, you could hear shouts in Polish, "Long Live the Pope!" This truly made me understand the faith of the people of Poland. It had really grown and matured next to this great Pope who was able to live his ministry with such a strong and charismatic personality, and at the same time was able to do justice to the office itself, vicar of Christ.

Look, he was no longer, but the Church was, Peter was, the new Pope was, a German Pope, and the crowd cried out in Polish and in Italian "Long live the Pope!" This was something beautiful for me!

ZENIT: Were there detractors who disagreed with the Pope's desire to gather the youth together in Rome for the first World Youth Day in 1985?

Monsignor Oder: There was no disagreement on the part of the Pope nor on the part of the young people, but rather on the part of those who thought in an old-fashioned way. [John Paul II] thought in a very modern way. He was a priest who sensed things. He himself said that the gift is a mystery, that a priest must not seek to be in fashion because he is always in fashion, he is always up-to-date, because what a priest represents is Christ, and Christ is always the same. That is why the real novelty that a priest bears is Christ. And he was able to convoke these young people, based on the novelty that is Christ.

ZENIT: And then there wasn't enough room for the youth to stay in Rome! The Pope allowed the young people to sleep on the floors of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in sleeping bags!

Monsignor Oder: Who would have ever thought of a revolution of that sort? But this was seen from the first day, from the beginning of the pontificate when he raised the cross against every protocol, when he drew near to the people, against every tradition. Already seen was this novelty of his, the day of his election when from the balcony, other than the blessing, he was not supposed to do anything, and then he spoke. Can you imagine the confusion!

ZENIT: What can we tell the youth of today and future generations when they ask about John Paul II?

Monsignor Oder: I think there will be young people of the "JPII Generation" who will speak to their children as a father because, effectively, the figure of John Paul II for that generation embodied paternity. He was a father, they loved him, they argued with him. I remember, I believe it was in Mexico, a meeting where the Pope engaged in dialogue with young people: Will you give up wealth? We will. Will you give up arrogance? We will. Will you give up sex? No, they shouted. It was a dialogue, I would say, that was almost dialectical, with the young people, and yet they loved him. They didn't put all he said into practice, but they wanted to hear what he had to say, and for me, herein lies the mystery of this paternity.

It was not simply his being able to be with them, with the youth, when he joked around with his cane, when he sang, when he would take them by the hand, all of which are beautiful gestures. However, the true paternity that he was also able to exercise was to set the bar high, because a father who loves his children cannot be content just with the fact that the youth live in mediocrity. Knowing his children, he knows they have potential, a richness. He is a father. He cannot do anything but demand, expect, wish, urge, and he did this. Maybe they didn't always respond, but they knew that he relied on them, that for them he was a father who truly placed his hopes on them. I think this was a very important aspect.

And I personally had a moment that stuck with me since the first meeting I had with him when he came to Poland and spoke to young people there. In the midst of that Communist grayness, his visit was a first ray of light. He told the youth, "You young people must remember that you must expect a lot from yourselves even when no one expects anything from you. You must be demanding with yourselves." And these are the words of a father.

This article has been selected from the ZENIT Daily Dispatch
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