L'osservatore Romano-servizio Fotografico/Alinari Archives/East News

I do not have time, now I need to go to play soccer

Karol Wojtyła’s attitude as a Pope was neither the next phase of the Papacy evolution nor its new chapter.  It was a turbulent, even revolutionary breakthrough.  This has never happened before – no Pope has ever been “at hand”, none of the previous Heads of the church has demonstrated that he is the same man as everyone else. Once, during his stay in Castel Gandolfo in the so-called Hall of the Swiss, important people were waiting for John Paul II.  Meanwhile, he walked around the park and watched a small boy, the son of a gardener who was playing the ball.  The Secretaries waved to him, trying to tell with their gestures that the guests were waiting and His Holiness should return.  But the Pope firmly shook his head as if he wanted to say: “I am sorry; I do not have time, now I need to play soccer.”  And, he exchanged several passes with the small boy.  Although, only for a moment, but long enough to make a statement that this child is now more important to him than any meetings. The Papal photographer, Arturo Mari, took a couple of gorgeous photographs.

According to some Vatican’s notables, the Holy Father should not do such things and so far, it was never the case.  There was also a horror among some of the Cardinals of Curia, when an intruder photographed the Pope in a swimming pool only wearing his swimming trunks.  It appeared, as it was devils’ work, but Karol Wojtyła peacefully commented it: “Well, I’m just curious to see which newspaper will publish it.”  There is no way to count all his falls with the Vatican’s vision of the immaculate person of the Pope.  For example, on May 14, 1999 he could not stop and to the horror of the Cardinals of Curia, he kissed the Qur’an.  He also did not mind when children of the Castel Gandolfo officials were playing hide and seek, hiding under his mantle.  Karol Wojtyła was a man with flesh and blood, and what distinguished him was the ability to love.

Andreas English: “Healer. Miracles of Saint John Paul II”

WAM Publishing House. Jesuit Fathers. Kraków 2015