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Rome Reports

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Pope John Paul II?s Friend

Jerzy KlugerPope?s friend“This is my fourth grade class in 1930. ; The Pope is here and I am there. ; This is high school graduation in 1938. ; Here is the Pope and here I am.”

It was in this public school in Wadowice, Poland, that Karol Wojtyla and Jerzy Kluger spent much of their childhood and adolescence. ; There were 30 kids in the class but the standout was Wojtyla. ;Jerzy KlugerPope?s friend“He was the smartest kid in the class.”

After school, they used to play soccer. ; They’d split into two teams: the Jews on one side, Catholics on the other. ; Wojtyla played the goalie.

Jerzy KlugerPope?s friend“He was an excellent goalie...when he used to defend the goal, he would step on the players’ feet and in return they used to beat him up.”

Jerzy was convinced the Pope would become a great actor.

Jerzy KlugerPope?s friend“He had a beautiful voice and a presence on stage…and an extraordinary memory.”

World War II would interrupt their friendship. ; In 1939, the Germans stormed into Poland and the persecution of the Jews began. ; Jerzy escaped with his family to France. ; Wojtyla stayed and entered the seminary. Rising through the ranks of bishop, archbishop and cardinal, finally on October 16, 1978, Karol Wojtyla became known to the world. ;“Habemus Papa”

Jerzy KlugerPope?s friend“That day I was at the dentist’s, I heard them saying that they had chosen a pope from far away. ; I told the dentist, he is a friend of mine, we went to school together!!”

Over the years, the Pope often invited his old friend to the Vatican for lunch. ; These are the photos of their last get together at Christmas. ; Because “being the Pope” has not stopped John Paul the Second from being a good friend to his friends. ; ;