NEARLY 40 years before he was shot in a failed assassination attempt in St Peter's Square, the future Pope John Paul II narrowly escaped with his life — thanks to a woman tram driver, writes Bruce Johnston in Rome.
The incident is mentioned in a new biography of the pontiff up until his election as Pope in 1978.
Written by Gianfranco Svidercoschi and entitled Storia di Karol (The History of Karol) the book tells the story of how on February 29, 1944 in Cracow, Karol Wojtyla was hit by a military lorry and sent hurtling into a ditch.
When a few minutes later Jozefa Florek drove down Konopnika Street where he was lying motionless, with his head badly losing blood, she stopped her tram and got out to help him.She then hailed a passing car to take him to hospital. The book said that on another occasion later the same year, on August 6, the young Karol had narrowly escaped capture in an SS raid.
SS officers who entered the house where he lived in Tyniecka Street in the city were said to have stopped short of the door behind which the future Pope was lying, on the floor, frightened for his life.
No rest for John Paul II
THE POPE decided to reduce what was to have been almost a week's holiday at his summer residence at Castelgandolfo this week, to one of just two days, writes Bruce Johnston in Rome.
The Pontiff, who turns 81 next month, was forced for the first time to watch much of Good Friday's Stations of the Cross procession in front of the Colosseum from the sidelines for reasons of ill health.
John Paul II went to his holiday home outside Rome, Castelgandolfo on Monday, after what was still a particularly gruelling Easter schedule.
POPE JOHN Paul LI has encouraged the Neocatechumenal Way to continue working with Vatican officials to draft statutes regulating the life of its communities.
hi a letter, the Pope told the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, US Cardinal Francis Stafford, that "the recognition and welcoming of charisms that new movements bring to the church is not an easy process".
However, the Pope said, the process of discernment and of drafting statutes that will lead to formal juridical recognition of the Neocatechumenal Way is essential for its future.
The Pope has frequently praised the Neocatechumenal Way, a spiritual renewal movement founded in Spain in 1964, as a powerful means of helping Catholics strengthen their faith, of bringing others into the church and of fostering vocations. the Republic of San Marino. He is Archbishop Paolo Romeo, currently papal nuncio to Canada.
Archbishop Romeo, a 63year-old Italian, replaces Archbishop Andrea Corder() Lanza di Montezemolo, who at 75 has reached the common retirement age for Vatican officials.
Since February 1999, Archbishop Romeo has served as the Pope's diplomatic representative in Canada. A 34year veteran of the Vatican diplomatic service, Archbishop Romeo was nuncio to Columbia and Haiti.
New beatus for Puerto Rico
THE POPE will this Sunday beatify a Puerto Rican Catholic, who championed lay participation in the Mass years before the Second Vatican Council.
Carlos Manuel Rodriguez also promoted the Easter vigil as the defining moment of Christian spiritual life.
Rodriguez was a clerical worker at an agricultural
Puerto Rico, where he gave new life to campus ministry at the university's Catholic chaplaincy.
He also lectured informally on liturgical issues and Christian culture at the centre.
"He lived according to the maxim: 'The zeal of your house has eaten me up'," recalled Dr Francisco Aguilo, a physician who continued thc apostolate at the chaplaincy following Rodriguez's death from colon cancer at the age of 45 in 1963.
"That's the way he always insisted the Christian should feel for his Church, understood as the mystical body of Christ, as well as for the liturgy, the life of the Church."
In preparation for Sunday's ceremony, the Puerto Rican bishops issued a pastoral letter in which they announced plans to place renewed emphasis on developing Catholic ministries on university campuses.