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'The Pope and I': John Paul II, according to his Jewish childhood friend

2012-11-12

That young friendship is the basis of a book titled 'The Pope and I.” Its author, Gianfranco De Simone, describes how after the war, the young boys thought that the other had been killed. But years later their paths crossed again, when Wojtyla was elected Pope. In fact, his first private audience was granted to his Jewish friend. 

GIANFRANCO DE SIMONE
Author, "The Pope and I"
"Many of the good deeds that defined John Paul II as a child, he later exemplified as Pope. Things like the  defense of the Jews, considering them 'brothers'. Also the Polish phrase Starsi Bracia, which means older brothers. It's a phrase the Pope used as a small boy.”

One of the most moving moments in the book, describes how one day, the young Jewish boy walked into a church and waited for Karol as he was praying. That's when a woman scolded the young Jew for being inside a church. 

GIANFRANCO DE SIMONE
Author "The Pope and I"
"At that time, Lolek, as he was nicknamed, raised his voice, turned toward the woman saying 'doesn't she known that we are all children of the same God'? He then turned to his friend and said, Jews and Catholics pray to the same God.”

Kluger died on December 2011, at the age of 90. But he remembered how throughout this pontificate, John Paul II worked to improve the relations between Jews and Christians.  In April 1986 he became the first pope to visit a synagogue. Then in 1994, his work triggered official diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. 


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