Theology of the Body Thursday #34: The Not-so-secret Love Letters of John Paul II

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The BBC came out recently with an exposé on John Paul II’s “secret affair” with a married woman.

Although there was nothing “secret” about it. And the BBC carefully avoided the word “affair.” ::wink-wink::

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Image from the estate of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka

 

Tymieniecka and JPII started correspondence in the 70’s prompted by a philosophical work that JPII published, “The Acting Person.” Their deep conversations about philosophy and everything else continued in letters and in-person visits for the rest of his life. After he died, she tried to sell the letters she received and a library in Poland ended up with them. The library did not make the letters available for reading until the BBC saw them. That is the only sense in which they were secret. Their relationship wasn’t a secret at all.

It only stands for reason that a man who wrote so poetically about the plight of women and had such a deep understanding of the human person would have had to have relationships with women.

But the BBC felt the need to add that there is no suggestion the Pope “broke his vow of celibacy.” They had to read sexual attraction into every page.

It reminds me of two great friendships in the Bible, David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi, that are frequently victims of the exact same abuse. It says more about us than it does about them. We, as a society, can’t accept a close relationship devoid of sex because we have equated intimacy so much with sex.

We are created to be a gift to others. Certainly that is stamped on our bodies, to be sure, but sex isn’t the only way to express this gift. To be celibate doesn’t mean you have no intimacy in your life. Can’t we just accept that you can be close to someone without sex. I think that would solve a lot of the loneliness in the world.

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And here’s what I think JPII would want to say to these journalists. (But he’d probably be too polite, so I’ll say it for him.)

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