'In the years of collaboration with him, it became ever more clear to me that John Paul II was a saint,' the Pope Emeritus has told Polish journalist Wlodzimierz Redzioch in a written interview.
- Catholic News Agency
VATICAN CITY — In lengthy excerpts of an interview published in an Italian newspaper, Benedict XVI speaks of his time collaborating with Blessed John Paul II, highlighting the soon-to-be-canonised pope’s sanctity and commitment to the truth.
Selections of the interview appeared in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on March 7. It is part of the book Beside JPII: Friends and Collaborators Speak, released by Italian press agency Edizioni Ares.
Benedict XVI recalled that he originally met John Paul II in the conclave where John Paul I was elected Pope, explaining how they had both read each other's work previously and had been wanting to meet each other.
Observing how the then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla had quoted his book Introduction to Christianity during the spiritual exercises he preached for Pope Paul VI in 1979, Benedict noted that 'it is as if, interiorly, we both were expecting to meet each other.'
'Above all, I immediately and greatly perceived the human fascination that he exuded, and from the way he prayed, I noted how deeply united to God he was,' he said.
Referring to certain doctrinal challenges which the two faced during their years of working together, Benedict XVI noted that the first major topic that came up was liberation theology.
'Both in Europe and in North America, it was common opinion that it was a support to the poor and, therefore, that it was a cause that surely needed to be approved,' he explained.
However, 'it was an error, stated Benedict.
Benedict explained, '[a] falsification of the Christian faith needed to be opposed precisely for the sake of the poor and in favour of the service rendered to them.'
Drawing attention to Blessed John Paul II’s experience with Marxism in Poland, which Benedict referred to as 'the godmother of liberation theology,' the retired Pope said it was 'on the basis of [John Paul’s] painful experience' that made it 'clear to him that it was necessary to fight that kind of "liberation".'
READ FULL ARTICLE: In rare interview, Benedict XVI recalls life of John Paul II (CNA)
Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI remembers Bl. John Paul II (Vatican Radio)
Ratzinger: la mia vita con il Santo Wojtyla (Corriere della Sera)