Thursday, October 16, 2008

"From a Far Country"

Thirty years ago today... the cardinals shocked the world:


...and now it's come to light that he didn't just survive one assailant:
Previously unpublished details of an assassination attempt on the late Pope John Paul II in Portugal in 1982 have been revealed in a film based on the memoirs of the Pope's former private secretary.

In the film, due to be shown at the Vatican this week, the late Pope's aide Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz tells how a deranged priest drew blood when he tried to kill John Paul with a bayonet during a religious ceremony at the Fatima shrine....

It came exactly a year after a Turkish gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, had shot and wounded the pope in Saint Peter's Square in Rome.

But that same evening, the Vatican formally denied there had been another assassination attempt.

The following day, Portuguese television broadcast footage of the attack.

It was carried out by a mentally unbalanced Spanish priest who was arrested after being jumped on by the Pope's bodyguard, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus.

Archbishop Marcinkus laughed this off when I asked him what had happened.

"You can't always believe what you see on television," he told me.

The Pope continued his trip without disclosing his wound.

The priest who carried out the attack, Juan Maria Fernandez y Krohn, was later tried and sentenced to over six years' imprisonment for his crime. He was then expelled from Portugal.
The film -- Testimony, an outgrowth of Don Stanislaw's memoir of "Life with Karol" -- premieres tonight in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of Benedict XVI.

Papa Wojtyla's closest aide for nearly four decades, fresh vidstream's up of a long interview Dziwisz gave on his North American tour last summer. Per custom since the Polish Pope's death, today is marked as "Pope Day" in his homeland.