Fr. Martin introduces the story with the following caveat:
Pope John Paul II was definitely a man's man - he was a manly man - and this friendship, as other friendships with women, seem to me to be confirmation of this. My first thoughts led me to consider the friendships I've known of between some priests and women friends - as well as with men. Chaste friendships, but close. This is so natural - although many lay people might consider it inapropriate, I don't at all.
First, everyone falls in love, including men and women who have made a vow of chastity in a religious order, and priests who have made a promise of celibacy. It's part of the human experience. As my novice director said, "If you don't fall in love, there's probably something wrong with you."
Second, it doesn't seem that St. John Paul ever broke his promise of celibacy (he was not a member of a religious order, so did not take a vow of chastity) or led her on in any deceitful way. - James Martin S.J.
As Fr. Martin noted; most people don't have a clue about what it means for a person who has promised celibacy or who has vowed chastity to fall in love. For most people, even falling in love in that "state of life" is seen as some sort of hypocrisy. I agree with Fr. Martin, that these things are very often misunderstood. The falling in love most likely differs from what is experienced in courtship and more pointedly, falling in lust. For me, the story reinforces my convictions regarding close chaste friendships. It can happen.
At any rate, the article is interesting and gives us a glimpse into the personal life of the saint.
Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka was a great hoarder, and she seems to have kept everything relating to her 32-year friendship with Saint John Paul. After her death, a huge cache of photographs was found among her possessions. We are used to seeing John Paul in formal papal clothing amid the grandeur of the Vatican, and yet here he is on the ski slopes, wearing shorts on a lake-side camping trip, and, in old age, entertaining privately in his rather sparse-looking living quarters.
When the two met in 1973, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla - as he then was - was the Archbishop of Krakow. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka was Polish by birth, and, like him, had endured the searing experience of the Nazi occupation during World War Two. After the war she left to study abroad and eventually pursued an academic career as a philosopher in the United States, where she married and had three children. - Finish reading - Secret Letters, BBC
Wojtyla was a good looking guy.
Anyway - the Vatican issued clarifications to the story:
"John Paul II was surrounded by a circle of friends – including clergymen, nuns and laypeople - with whom he stayed in close contact. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka was within this circle of friends – John Paul II’s friendship with her was neither secret nor extraordinary." - Source
Works for me.
*I'll post my camping trip photos from the '70's.
Song for this post here.