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Pope Francis

Nicolás Maduro meets with the pope in surprise visit to Rome

October 24, 2016. Pope Francis met with Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro. The private visit took place in the midst of the "worrysome political, social, and economic situation the country is going through, which is having serious repercussins in the daily life of the people,” according to a statement from the Vatican.

Holy See and Vietnam begin their 6th bilateral meeting today

October 24, 2016. The sixth meeting between the Holy See and a delegation of Vietnam begins today to improve relations between the two states. The Vatican delegation is headed by Antoine Camilleri, while the head of the Vietnamese delegation is Bui Thanh Son, with Foreign Affairs. The last meeting between the two state delegations was in September 2014.
Pope Francis

Pope to award 2016 Ratzinger Prize to Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles

October 20, 2016. The winners of this year's Ratzinger Prize will be Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles. The former, an Italian priest, is an expert in Systematic Theology and History of Medieval Theology. The latter is Greek and an Orthodox. He is an expert in History of Dogmas and Dogmatic Theology. He will be the first Orthodox to be awarded the prize given by the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation, considered by many the Nobel Prize of Theology.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis sends his condolences to Thais after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

October 14, 2016. Pope Francis has sent a message to the Prime Minister of Thailand to express his condolences for the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was 88 years old, and his reign spanned seven decades. Pope Francis said he is "deeply saddened” and he expresses his closeness to the members of the royal family and the Thai people.
Pope Francis

Pope sends 100,000 dollars for Hurricane Matthew victims

October 14, 2016. Through the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Pope Francis will send $100,000 to the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The money will fund relief efforts in the first stages of recovery after the devastating effects of the hurricane. With this gesture, the pope wants to express his "closeness of spirit and fatherly support” to everyone in the affected area.
Pope Francis

Pope authorizes new decrees of heroic virtues for four potential saints

October 11, 2016. Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree of heroic virtues to four people, who are being investigated by the Church for possible sainthood. The decrees were given to the following "Servants of God:”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis rejects death penalty on Twitter: #NoDeathPenalty

October 10, 2016. The Pope has has given his support via Twitter to the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The following message can be read in each of his nine accounts, in their respective languages: "Punishment should necessarily include hope! #NoDeathPenalty.”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis announces Synod about youth and vocation

October 6, 2016. It will be held in 2018 under the name "Youth, faith, and vocational discernment.” Preparations for the second Synod of bishops convened by Pope Francis are well underway.

Theme chosen for 2017 World Communications Day

September 29, 2016. The theme for the 2017 World Communications Day has officially been announced. Coming from the book of Isiah, the theme is: "Fear not, for I am with you: communicating hope and trust in our time.”
Pope Francis

Pope will not be able to travel to Israel on Friday to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres

September 28, 2016. Despite the rumors that Pope Francis will travel to Israel to attend Shimon Peres funeral, the Vatican has issued a statement officially announcing a confirmation for the pope's scheduled visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan will remain as planned on Friday. The pope spoke warmly about the former leader and sent out a telegram of condolences:

Wanda Poltawska: John Paul II’s best friend


That’s where Adolf Hitler’s personal doctor, Karl Gebhardt subjected her to horrific medical experiments. Wanda says her curiosity to find how far human cruelty would go, was the only thing that kept her alive. After the war, she went home completely demoralized and began searching for a priest to help her reconcile with humanity.

Wanda Poltawska
Author ‘Diario di un’Amicizia’

“At the concentration camp, I witnessed an inhumane way of being a man and woman. But at the same time, I also saw heroic acts. That’s why, I couldn’t understand who is the true human person. Eventually, I found the answer with the help of the anthropology and priest and philosopher Karol Wojtyla.”

That’s how her friendship of more than 50 years started. Since 1950 until his death, Karol Wojtyla was a confessor, spiritual guide and personal friend to Wanda Poltawska and her husband. In fact, the couple was the late pope’s advisors when he wrote "Love and Responsibility" and "The Acting Person.” 

In 1962, Wanda was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors gave her little chance to live. Karol Wojtyla wrote to Padre Pio, asking him to pray for her healing. Miraculously, the cancer disappeared without a trace.

Proof of Wanda’s friendship with the pope is spelled out in hundreds of letters they would send each other over the span of 55 years.

Wanda would write to him about her reflections on bible scriptures, Karol Wojtyla would suggest. He would later add his own ideas.

Now Wanda is publishing memoirs of her friendship with the late pontiff. In one letter, Karol Wojtyla recognizes how God had saved him from going to a concentration camp, because Wanda had gone in his place. That’s why he would refer to Wanda as his ‘little sister’ and he would sign the letter ‘your brother Karol’.

Wanda Poltawska
Author ‘Diario di un’Amicizia’

“When I met him, I first wanted to see what he would talk about, how he would celebrate Mass. I witness how he prayed and understood he was a saintly priest, I could see that from the first instant.”

The strong bond between the Poltawska’s and Karol Wojtyla remained even after he became pope. The Poltawska’s would attend some Christmas gatherings at the Vatican and spend some days with him over the summers at Castel Gandolfo. When the pope was sick, Wanda read books to him out loud so he could rest.

Wanda Poltawska
Author ‘Diario di un’Amicizia’

“His secret is that he loved all human beings. It didn’t matter if they were good, bad or thieves. He treated everyone with love, like Jesus would. He was truly a Vicar of Christ on earth.”

Many biographies exist on John Paul II, but the profile outlined in “‘Diario di un’Amicizia” by Wanda Poltawska is special. It documents 55 years of a friendship, and a new side of Karol Wojtyla: the one of a spiritual guide.