Papal Secrets


The inside story of John Paul II's reign is hidden behind Vatican curtains. Now, unprecedented access to the pope and his retinue reveals how he rose to power-ending a 500-year tradition of Italian popes-and played a pre-eminent role in the tumultuous political and spiritual events of his times. ..MR0-

If Karol Wojtyla, cardinal of Krakow, had a premonition about his own future as the first non-Italian pope in half a millennium, he behaved in a remarkably businesslike fashion when he returned to Rome for two weeks early in October, 1978, for the second Vatican conclave of the year, just another cardinal preparing to elect a new pontiff. And if a Wojtyla candidacy was beginning to emerge in quiet Roman conversations during this interregnum -following the death of John Paul 1, only 32 days after he had succeeded Paul VI the Krakow cardinal had no visible part in it.

But the matter was in the hands of his friends and potential supporters. Though the Holy Spirit may inspire the cardinals in their choice, as the Church says, a papal election has always been an exercise in exquisite politics.

Much of Wojtyla's time was spent with his old friend Bishop Andrzej Maria Deskur, a powerful, politically minded and superbly connected bridge-playing prelate. The week before the conclave, Wojtyla stepped up his social-political activities. Deskur hosted events for him with Italian Cardinal Nasalli Rocca and Archbishop Luigi Poggi, a top Vatican diplomat with experience in Poland, and with Chicago's Cardinal John Cody, whose parishioners included great numbers of Polish-Americans. The preconclave period was more and more like a secular political convention, and Wojtyla was attracting increasing attention among his peers. His name kept, popping up in the accelerating maneuvering by the cardinals.

Deskur is convinced that Wojtyla already knew that he was destined to be elected. He recalls that during a walk they took in the Vatican gardens a few days before the conclave began, "It was very clear to me that somewhere inside his mind and his soul and his heart Wojtyla knew that he would be pope." But was the Church ready to name a non-Italian pope for the first time in 456 years?

The Italians themselves created a situation that made it likely. Cardinal Giuseppe Siri of Genoa-a protege of Pius XII and who was identified with the most conservative wing of the Church and Cardinal Giovanni Benelli of Florence, one of the closest associates of Paul VI and who generally represented progressive views emerged from the outset as the two principal rival candidates. Their confrontation deadlocked the conclave even before it started.

Two key cardinals were already cogitating about, a non-Italian pope and, specifically, about Karol Wojtyla. They were his old friends Cardinal Franz Konig of Vienna and Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, the son of Poles (both names happen to mean king). Though their politics differed- Konig was a progressive and Krol a conservative -they were in agreement that Karol Wojtyla was the man for the season. Konig believed that the point had been reached when the Church could be saved only by the European East, while Krol was hugely impressed by the 58-year-old Pole's youthfiil energy and deep spirituality.

Reminiscing in 1993 about the conclave, Krol pointed out that many foreign cardinals, including himself, were deeply disturbed about the political situation in Italy, and financial scandals that had brushed the Roman Curia. Therefore, Krol said, some of the cardinals thought that a non-Italian would be an asset for the Church. In the days immediately preceding the conclave, Wojtyla's undeclared candidacy gradually began to take shape. And unquestionably, Konig and Krol were the chief architects of the campaign. The Viennese could bring along the West European Progressives and many of the Third Worlders, whose numbers had grown significantly under Paul VI. Krol could (and did) bring along the Americans.

Getting elected pope requires a vote of two-thirds plus one. After the first four ballots, on October 15, no one was close. Overnight more and more cardinals began to realize that no Italian had a chance. Konig, Krol, Belgium's Leo Jozef Suenens, Spain's Vicente Enrique y Tarancon, and Brazil's Alosio Lorscheider took it upon themselves to sell their fellow cardinals on Wojtyla.

Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, the white-bearded dean of the College of Cardinals, called for the eighth ballot shortly after 5:00 p.m. on the conclave's second day, and tension inside the Sistine Chapel was unbearable; many feared an unbreakable deadlock over the Italian question. Then the break came. Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, the powerful Italian Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, decided to back Wojtyla, followed by just enough recalcitrant Italian cardinals.

As votes were called out by the counters, the cardinals wrote down the numbers on their pads. Konig, who sat directly ahead of Wojtyla, recalls looldng back and seeing that "when the number of votes for him approached one-half [of the needed total], he cast away his pencil and sat up straight. He was red in the face. Then he was holding his head in his hands."

As the ballot reached ninety-four for him -seventeen cardinals refused to accept him-Wojtyla leaned down over the desk and began writing furiously.

At 6:18 p.m., Cardinal Tisserant announced in the chapel that Karol Wojtyla of Krakow had been elected pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Villot, the chamberlain, approached Wojtyla to ask in Latin: "In accordance with the canon law do you accept?" Wojtyla had no hesitation. "It is God's will," he replied. "I accept." To understand John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope elected in 456 years, one must strive to understand Karol Jozef Wojtyla, the man. And to do so, it is crucial to grasp and comprehend the fact of his Polishness.

The son of a deeply patriotic and religious retired army officer, Karol Wojtyla is above all the product of the Polish national identity. The Roman Catholic church had helped to preserve it over the centuries through the protection of language and culture and a mystical and messianic spirituality.

He is the pontiff of the Universal Church of nearly one billion Roman Catholics and a key player on the world diplomatic scene, but he remains a Polish patriot, a Polish philosopher, a Polish poet, and a Polish politician.

Beyond doubt, however, the communist regime in Warsaw wholly misunderstood the realities of the Polish Church and its personalities, and thought that a former manual laborer and frequent critic of capitalism like Wojtyla would be sympathetic. Thus the communists had been directly responsible for his earlier appointment as archbishop. This, in turn, led to his cardinalcy and his eventual elevation to the pontificate. The ultimate historical irony was, of course, the decisive role played by John Paul II in the negotiations resulting in the demise of commununist rule first in Poland and subsequently elsewhere.

In May 29,1967, eleven days after his forty-seventh-birthday, Karol Wojtyla was notified that Pope Paul VI had named him a cardinal. The nomination came as a surprise in Poland. Other Polish archbishops were older than Wojtyla.

Clearly, Paul VI regarded him as a favorite, faithfully following in the papal footsteps, especially on matters of sex and morality (page 66).

As cardinal, Wojtyla turned the Krakow archdiocese into something of a minipapacy. It is hard to imagine any other cardinal at that time being as insatiably active and busy as Wojtyla. And the diversity of his concerns and interests was astounding. There was nothing like it in Poland.

All of Wojtyla's efforts as cardinal were made against the background of continuing pressures by the regime against the Polish Church. His strategy was to wear down the communists with personal or written protests over any violation of Church rights, or human rights in general, including the freedom of Catholic education and catechism. Wojtyla thundered at church sermons and drowned the authorities in streams of petitions and requests for the building of churches and seminaries, permits for processions, pilgrimages and parades, and ceaseless complaints over the drafting of seminarians for military service.

Curiously, the communists had a very different idea of what Karol Wojtyla represented when he attained his position of power in the Church in 1967. The regime's view of Wojtyla was expressed in a top secret document of the UB, the Polish secret police, dated August 5, 1967-five weeks after he became cardinal-and titled "Our Tactics Toward Cardinals Wojtyla and Wyszynski." The fivepage document was discovered in the archives of UB headquarters after the end of the communist rule. It provides fascinating insights into the mentality of the regime: ..MR.-

The tenth successive Krakow cardinal, [Wojtyla] comes from a family of intelligentsia -from a religious but not devotional environment. He studied at Jagiellonian University, and had contacts with leftist youth ... During World War II, he was a worker in a Krakow chemical plant, which possessed considerable traditions of workers' movements ... He rose in the Church hierarchy not thanks to an anti-communist stance, but thanks to intellectual values (his works on Catholic morality and ethics, such as "Love and Responsibility, have been translated into many languages) ... ..MR0-

Consequently, the regime embarked on an ill-conceived campaign to drive a wedge between the new cardinal and Primat Stefan Wyszynski- to advance Wojtyla's position. Unaware, Wojtyla continued to fight the regime, an inch at a time.

Presiding over his Krakow minipapacy, Wojtyla wove an increasingly intimate relationship with the papacy of Paul VI. He was a member of three Congregations of the Curia-like superministries in a government- and a member of of the Synod of Bishops established to implement the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. He had attained the highest levels of the Holy See in terms of personal influence and access. The area in which he lacked expertise was world affairs. To gain that, Paul VI encouraged him to go on the road.

But Wojtyla's first grand voyage-to North America-happened by accident. Polish communities in Canada and the United States had extended an invitation to Cardinal Wyszynski but the primate refused to go. He was a timid soul, he spoke no English, and he was horrified by the prospect of holding press conferences. The invitation was then made to Wojtyla, who flew off on August 26,1969.

Wojtyla learned a lot both in Canada and then in the United States about the techniques of social life. Father Szczepan Wesoly (now an archbishop) recalls that "he discovered the institution of the cocktail party, which he didn't like at first, realizing that it was a good idea to be able to stand with a glass in your hand, whether you drank or not, while chatting with hosts and fellow guests ... Wojtyla also got to like dinners and banquets because they offered an opportunity for conversation around the table, even if there were speeches. And he acquired a taste for press conferences as his English kept improving en route."

In 1973, Cardinal Wojtyla crossed the globe, spending February in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua and New Guinea (with a stop in the Philippines), making a splendid impression on the cardinals and bishops, and making new ecclesiastic friends.

But his most important destination was always Rome. Cardinal Wojtyla became a familiar figure at the Vatican and in the papal apartments. Not only was he frequently in Rome attending meetings of his Congregations and the Bishops Synod, but he was a regular visitor to Paul VI's private study. In the course of three years 1973 to 1975-he was received eleven times by the pope in private audiences, probably a record for non-resident cardinals.

If there were any doubts that Wojtyla was Paul VI's special favorite, they were dispelled by the sudden invitation to him, in February 1976, to conduct the Roman Curia's Lenten Retreat in the presence of the pope. This was as high a personal and theological honor as can be granted a prelate by the pontiff.

Wojtyla's presentation-"Meditations," later published as a book under the title 'A Sign of Contradiction"-was a ringing manifesto defining the Church's morality and ethics, and Wojtyla's view of the world caught between the evils of Marxism and excessive capitalism.

He expressed these ideas many times before, but now it was offered as a fundamental statement of policy before men who would be decisive in choosing the new pope. Paul VI, who listened to the "Meditations" wearing a penitential hairshirt and thorns against his flesh beneath his papal robes, was seventy-nine years old and in very poor health. All those at St. Matilda's Chapel knew they were witnessing the end of the pontificate. But they did not know that Paul VI had suggested that Wojtyla speak in Italian, rather than Latin, so that the cardinals would become aware that he could function very well as pope in Rome.

Paul VI died on August 7. Cardinal Albino Luciani, the Archbishop of Venice, was chosen as his successor on August 26, taking the name of John Paul I. He died 32 days later. Father Czeslaw Obtulowicz, chancellor of the Curial palace in Krakow, recalls that Wojtyla was at breakfast when he brought him word of John Paul I's death. Wojtyla sat in silence for a moment, then said: "God works in mysterious ways ... Let us bow our heads before them.. ."

But he went on with his own work. Returning to Krakow on September 30, after inspecting a new parish, Wojtyla asked his driver to stop at the edge of the woods near the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska sanctuary. He sat in the car for a time, busily writing letters on his lap desk. As an assistant remarked later, "It was as if he wanted to wind up all his affairs here, not leaving behind him anything undone."

John Paul II assumed power on October 22,1978, armed with a tough and precise agenda concerning the governance of the Church and an aggressive conduct ofthe Vatican's foreign policy.

The new pope's decision to engage in the active practice of foreign policy was aimed first and foremost at the situation in his native Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe -and even in the Soviet Union. He would begin with a visit home. The idea was foremost in John Paul II's mind from the instant of his choice in the Sistine Chapel.

In Moscow, the more Leonid Brezhnev thought about the pope's impending visit to Poland, the more alarmed he became. In Brezhnev's opinion, the government had failed to crush Polish underground opposition groups, was openly flirting with the Church, and now was prepared to tolerate an incursion by the Polish pope. To Brezhnev, this was a real "strategic danger," and he felt the time had come to bring his Polish comrades back to their senses.

Early in 1979, even before the Polish episcopate had issued the formal invitation to John Paul II, Brezhnev telephoned First Secretary Edward Gierek in Warsaw. This is how Gierek remembers an exceedingly bizarre conversation:

Brezhnev said, "I advise you not to receive him because it will cause you much trouble. " I replied. "How can I not receive the Polish pope since the majority of our compatriots are of Catholic faith, andfor them the election was a great feast. Besides, what doyou imagine I can tell the people? Why are we closing the barrier to him?" Brezhnev said: "Tell the pope-he is a wise man-that he could announce publicly that he cannot come because he has been taken ill. " I answered: "Comrade Leonid, I cannot do that. I must receive John Paul II."

The first Polish pope landed in Warsaw on the morning of June 2,1979, eight months to the day after he had left as Cardinal Wojtyla for the Vatican conclave. From the moment he knelt to kiss the Polish ground at Okecie Airport, he lived nine days of national ecstasy. At least ten million Poles (of a population of thirty five million) turned out to see him.

While the communist regime in Warsaw digested John Paul II's visit to Poland with relative equanimity, alarm bells sounded loudly in Moscow. The Soviet leadership ordered a top secret worldwide campaign against the new pope and his policies.

The campaign was triggered not only by the pope's Polish visit against which Brezhnev had warned Gierek in January -but also by what the Kremlin perceived as "dangerous" and "aggressive" activities of the Roman Catholic Church in all the communist countries, including the Soviet Union. According to documents obtained in mid-1994 from the archives of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow-and never disclosed before -the Secretariat of the Central Committee approved on November 13,1979, a six-point "Decision to Work Against the Policies of the Vatican in Relation with Socialist States."

The "Decision" provided for the "mobilization" of the communist parties of Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia (Soviet republics with significant Roman and Greek Catholic populations) and of Tass, Soviet state television, the Academy of Sciences, "and other organizations ... of the Soviet State" to launch "propaganda against the policies of the Vatican." And it ordered the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the KGB to "improve the quality of the struggle agamst the new Eastern European policy of the Vatican."

One point was addressed specifically to the KGB. It instructed the secret service agency "to publicize in the Western countries [the fact] that Vatican policies are harmful" and "above all, to show in the Socialist states that Vatican policies go against the life of the Catholic Church.,, The KGB was directed to "show that the leadership of the new pope ... is dangerous to the Catholic Church."

Did the KGB, so ordered, ultimately try to kill the pope? Investigations and trials related to the papal assassination attempt of May, 1981, went on for years. They failed to produce convincing conclusions concerning suspected conspiracies by Soviet and Bulgarian security services. As late as 1992, a new study by the Central Intelligence Agency confessed an inability to come up with satisfactory answers.

On June 16,1983, John Paul II went home as pope for the second time. On that trip he met General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the prime minister of Poland. Their meeting launched what would become a crucial personal relationship over the ensuing years; it marked a major turning point in Poland's postwar history.

Jaruzelski affirms that "the role of the pope was enormous in the transformations that occurred in Poland and, following in Poland's footsteps, in the whole [communist] bloc."

In March, 1985, John Paul II's interest in Marxism turned fully to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. A completely new climate was developing under perestroika, the Russian word meaning "restructuring." It was Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's term for his new policies. immediately and inevitably, Gorbachev and perestroika affected the political situation in Poland.

Coincidentally or not, Andrei Gromyko, the Foreign Minister of the USSR, called on John Paul II in late March, 1985. The pope found the mission unclear, but intriguing. The veteran Gromyko, who served every Soviet leader since Stalin, seemed to be probing in various directions, even hinting that the Kremlin might be interested in diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

The pope was not content to wait idly. On January 13, 1987, he and General Jaruzelski, by then Poland's president, conferred alone for eighty minutes in the Apostolic Palace in what both "great Poles" later publicly described as a "historical visit." It was in the course of that conversation that Jaruzelski first mentioned Gorbachev to John Paul II. This had followed Jaruzelski's discussions with Gorbachev about the pope. As jaruzelski sums it up, "I flatter -myself in thinking that I was the one who, for the first time, brought the pope and Gorbachev together though without their physical presence ... Because I was the one who knew Gorbachev well." The general's account of his secret "mutual friend" dealings with Paul II and Gorbachev is so extraordinary-it has never been revealed publicly that it is best told in his-own words: I told the pope what I knew about Gorbachev and what role Gorbachev was playing, what were his intentions, what difficulties he ced, how important it was to support him, how to understand him, and what a great chance this was for Europe and the world -even if everything was not happening as smoothly as one may desire. And when I spoke with Gorbachev, I tried to convey to him the opinions of the pope, in which he was very much interested.

According to jaruzelski, it was Gorbachev who originally broached the subject of John Paul II during a meeting in 1986:

Gorbachev asked me what the pope was like, how he thought. I pointed out that he was the first pope to become so greatly committed to the cause ofpeace, and not only verbally, but through his great participation in many activities. He was the first pope who had emphasized so strongly the question of social justice and whose social teachings were rather close to some concepts of socialist and communist ideology ... I told him that this was a Slav pope who sensed better than others the realities of our region, our history, our dreams.

Jaruzelski says that he had told both men-Gorbachev and the pope -about his conversations with the other man. John Paul II has confirmed that he was fully aware of the emergence of this "triangular" situation and that he was "very much interested" in Gorbachev.

Poland was about to change radically- and without any move by Soviet troops to stop it. A wave of strikes in 1988 led to legal recognition for Solidarity. Free elections -the first in over 40 years -toppled the communists, though General Jaruzelski remained as president for two more years. On July 17,1989, Poland and the Holy See established formal diplomatic relations.

Years later, John Paul II was asked whether he thought that the negotiations about Poland's future might have collapsed and a "tragedy" occurred if instead of Wojtyla, Jaruzelski, and Gorbachev, the papacy were held by a non-Slav and the Polish and Soviet leaders were old-fashioned communist apparatchiks. The pope pondered the question, and replied that he could agree.

The polish pope, increasingly impressed by Mikhail Gorbachev, next turned his eye on the Soviet Union. John Paul II told Vatican diplomats to try to establish a dialogue with the Soviet Union.

An opportunity to do so was actually supplied by Gorbachev. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Filaret of Kiev, who had always been close to the Kremlin, was instructed by Gorbachev in the spring of 1988 to invite the leaders of all the world religions to come to Moscow to commemorate one thousand years of Christianity in the Russian lands. The invitation itself was an unprecedented gesture on the part of the Soviets. In what Vatican officials describe as "one of the most crucial decisions at the end of the Cold War," John Paul II, fresh from the Jaruzelski briefings and messages, decided to send not just one, but two Holy See delegations. He named a "religious delegation" and a separate, highest-level "political delegation" including Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli.

Casaroli was the Vatican's leading authority on the communist countries. He carried a six-page letter from John Paul II to Gorbachev, with instructions that it be handed personally to the Soviet leader. The existence of the letter and its contents have never been made public. In it the pope urged Gorbachev to agree to full freedom of religion in the Soviet Union for people of alf creeds -especially for Roman Catholics in Lithuania, Latvia, and Byelorussia. Also, in effect, the pope proposed the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze received the political delegation with great cordiality, each making a point of telling the Vatican visitors that he had been baptized at birth. Casaroli handed Gorbachev the papal letter and a ,'very pleasant conversation" ensued.

John Paul II was pleased when Casarol reported to him that Gorbachev had spoken 'at some length about the future of the young %people in the Soviet Union-the future of the world's youth is one of the pope's favorite topics -and that the two Soviet leaders had chosen to mention their childhood baptism. He read it as a "signal" of interest in further dealings with the Holy See.

Gorbachev sent another signal, or so the Vatican thought, when he visited Krakow's Wawel Cathedral, where Karol Wojtyla had been consecrated as bishop 30 years earlier, during his July visit to Poland. Then followed a long silence from the Kremlin. Suddenly, in the last week of August, 1989, a Soviet emissary appeared at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with a letter from Gorbachev to John Paul.

Gorbachev's seven-page letter (never released publicly) praised John Paul II's writings. "I know what you have written," Gorbachev wrote. He stressed that he had been impressed with the pope's Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern) encyclical, issued on December 30,1987, about "worry ing aspects of poverty, unemployment, shortage of food, the arms race, contempt for human rights, and situations and dangers of conflict, partial or total." But the key phrase in Gorbachev's letter was that "We must meet."

They did, on December 1, as Gorbachev headed for a meeting with President Bush in Malta. White-robed John Paul II welcomed Gorbachev and his wife warmly in the parlor of the papal apartments before the two men adjourned to the adjoining study.

Replying to the pope's greetings, Gorbachev described their meeting as "an event of extraordinary importance." Then, departing from his prepared text, he proposed diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Moscow, and invited John Paul 11 to the Soviet Union.

Discussing the visit that evening at dinner with his closest aides, the pope indicated that he was "exalted." He said that Gorbachev had told him that he was prepared "to go all the way on religious liberties and other freedoms." Asked what he thought of Gorbachev, John Paul 11 replied, "He is a man of principle. He is a person who not only believes in principles, but he is ready to accept whatever unpleasant consequences of his acts may occur."

The Holy See's interpretation of Gorbachev's attitude and remarks was that he needed support for perestroika from religious institutions, notably from the Russian Orthodox Church, and that he regarded John Paul II as his "natural ally" because he enjoyed "great moral authority." As a result of the John Paul II-Gorbachev meeting, diplomatic relations were established in 1990 between the Holy See and Moscow. The Roman Catholic Church was authorized to function openly in the Soviet Union.

A year and a half after his meeting with John Paul 11 - in August 1991 -Gorbachev was ousted from power. To this day, Gorbachev is received with great cordiality by John Paul II whenever he comes to Rome as a private citizen. "Everything that happened in Eastern Europe in these last few years would have been impossible without the presence of this pope," an admiring Gorbachev has written, "and without the important role -including the political role -that he played on the world stage."

One of the greatest crises in the Roman Catholic Church occurred . in the 1960s over the issue of birth control. The "pill" had come on the market and, in response, Pope Paul VI established a commission of experts to advise him on whether the church should modify its traditional opposition to contraception.

After seven years of deliberation, a majority of the physicians, theologians and bishops agreed that the church could and should permit married couples to use contraceptives in order to space and control pregnancies. But a small minority vehemently disagreed, saying this would undermine marriage and the moral authority of the church. One member of the commission-curiously absent during the final vote-was the young Archbishop of Cracow, Karol Wojtyla.

For two more years, Pope Paul wrestled with the problem in secret. He was, he lamented, "submerged in a sea of documents." Among those documents the most decisive, perhaps, were written by Wojtyla. An excerpt from Szulc's book:

As cardinal in Krakow, Wojtyla invested a massive amount of time holding forth on Christian ethics and morality, including sexuality and vice. He inveighed in his sermons and homilies against abortion, artificial means of contraception, alcoholism, and atheism. The cardinal established an Institute of the Family in Krakow to coordinate teaching and advice pertaining to all these matters. Then he set up an operation named "S.O.S. Cardinal Wojtyla!' to assist mothers who had chosen to forgo planned abortions. It was a home for unwed mothers where they could remain as long as a year after giving birth.

Humanae vitae was among Wojtyla's preferred preaching topics. Actully, Wojtyla was a drafter of the encyclical, a fact that has never been publicly disclosed.

Meaning "On Human Life," Humanae vitae is essentially the papal condemnation of abortion and artificial means of contraception, such as birth-control pills, as violations of Christian teachings.

The ban on contraceptive devices is the most controversial aspect of the encyclical. It is assumed, even at the Vatican, that the majority of Catholics do not observe the ban on artificial contraception.

It is likely that Wojtyla's book on sexuality, "Love and Responsibility," which argued that artificial contraception degrades women, was either read by Pope Paul or summarized for him after the French and Italian language editions were published late in 1965. In the years when Paul was deciding what to say about contraception, Wojtyla is known to have met frequently with the pope. It was also in this period that Paul elevated him to the cardinalate.

Wojtyla had been working quietly in Krakow on the draft of the encyclical. He organized his own Krakow commission on birth control matters, which prepared materials for Humanae vitae and forwarded it directly to the pope. A Polish theologian who worked with Wojtyla says that "about sixty percent of our draft is contained in the encyclical."

Eleven years later (two months before he was elected pope),Wojtyla confirmed, almost casually, his role in Humanae vitae. Reminiscing about his contacts with Paul VI, he remarked that because "unfortunately" he had been unable to attend the June, 1966, meeting of the commission created to consider the subject, "I sent my opinions in writing to the Holy Father." Paul VI displayed gratitude and appreciation for the rest of his life.