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Secretary of John Paul II: “He was like a father to us”

2014-04-22

Back in the 80's, Congolese Monsignor Emery Kabongo was working at the Vatican's Secretariat of State when he got a call from John Paul II

MSGR. EMERY KABONGO
Personal Secretary of John Paul II (1982-1987)
"My first memory of John Paul II was when he appointed me as his personal secretary, so that I could help his first secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz. I didn't write a letter or ask for an appointment.  That's why I thank him for his Catholic mentality and for thinking that an African would be a good secretary.” 

He worked side by side with John Paul II from 1982 to 1987, traveling alongside the Pope in all his international trips. Monsignor Kabongo says there's one trip in particular that he will always remember. 

MSGR. EMERY KABONGO
Personal Secretary of John Paul II (1982-1987)
"During his trip to Colombia I got sick and I just remember waking up in the bed that had been prepared just in case the Pope didn't feel well. Especially since he could have trouble with the altitude. So the doctors took me to that room and I asked myself: 'How is it that I'm here?' It turns out it was John Paul II who asked them to put me in a safe place so that I could recover, and I stayed there for two days.” 

He acknowledges that working for John Paul II was quite demanding and rewarding: the Pope, he says, would always stay close to his collaborators. 

MSGR. EMERY KABONGO
Personal Secretary of John Paul II (1982-1987)
"He was like a father, for me and for the rest of the team. He never yelled or raised his voice at us-never.” 

Monsignor Kabongo is one of the people who shared their testimony in a book titled "Accanto Giovanni Paolo II.” It also features an interview where Benedict XVI talks about his relationship with the future saint. 


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