no. 2 april - june 2005
Patrick McMahon, O. Carm., Praeses of the Institutum Carmelitanum,being interviewed by Emma Jane Kirby of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) during the funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 9, 2005. A number of media outlets in radio, television, and newspapers sought interviews from Carmelites in Rome during the last days and death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
The Vatican reported that its press office had provided accreditation for 6,000 journalists following the death of John Paul II. Some 137 television networks in 81 countries from all five continents transmitted the Pope’s funeral. (Photo courtesy of the BBC)
While Pope John Paul II will largely be remembered for his influence on social issues ranging from euthanasia to AIDS, he also earned a place in history as the first pontiff to embrace computer technology and he brought the Vatican into the Information Age. This aspect of the papacy was even highlighted in an article published by the internet news service, CNET News.com.
One example of how far the Vatican has come was news of a deal it brokered with Verizon last year for a service to deliver a papal message daily to subscribers’ cell phones.
Traditionally the ringing of the church bells in Rome has announced the death of a pope. It is now known that the death of John Paul II was first announced by the Vatican via text messages to accredited news services. The news was then relayed to the world via radio, television, and a live internet broadcast from the Vatican itself. Only some moments later, the news was announced to the crowd praying just below the pope’s bedroom window in St. Peter’s Square. Only an hour later did the bells of Rome begin ringing.
A church representative said the Vatican had a history of embracing new communications media, and cell phones are a natural vehicle for reaching younger believers. "People are always trying to find ways to market His Holiness," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"While the Internet can never replace that profound experience of God which only the living, liturgical and sacramental life of the Church can offer, it can certainly provide a unique supplement and support in both preparing for the encounter with Christ in community, and sustaining the new believer in the journey of faith which then begins," the pontiff proclaimed at the 36th annual World Communications Day in 2002.
Pope John Paul II was unique among heads of the Roman Catholic Church for a love of sport — while his health held out — that meant he was equally at ease on skis, in the water or between the goal-posts.
Feeling the need to have more exercise in order to have the physical strength to live up to his new responsibilities, the pope had a swimming pool installed, much to the surprise of the Vatican hierarchy. He remarked that the pool would be cheaper than another conclave.
oked with an AFP reporter: "I pray every day to be kept from temptation."
But at times the temptation was too strong and the pontiff often took to the slopes — on occasion accompanied by then Italian president Sandro Pertini — for secret excursions, to the amazement of whichever other skier he might happen to encounter on the ski-lift.
"I couldn’t believe that that man sitting on a rock near a waterfall, wearing old boots and a fisherman’s cap and digging into a can of sardines was the sovereign pontiff," one astonished hiker.
1) Pope John Paul II enjoys a rare moment of solitude skiing on the mountains near Amadello, Italy.
2) Pope John Paul II assists Sandro Pertini, the elderly Socialist President of Italy, while on vacation together in the mountains of northern Italy. These two leaders often spent time together on the Pope's vacations to the mountains.
In the photo, a bare-chested, 19 year old Karol Wojtyla is standing between two co-workers at a military construction site in July 1939 in eastern Poland (now western Ukraine). The young Wojtyla is wearing a scapular.
In May 1981, still shocked by the news that the young Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla, had been shot while greeting pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square only a few blocks away, the Carmelites at Traspontina Church received a phone call from the Vatican. The caller asked that a new scapular be delivered to the Vatican for the wounded pope. The one the pope was wearing when he was shot had become soaked with his blood from his wounds.
Congratulations to the Borgo Pope, Our Parishioner
proclaims the banner hanging over the main door of the Carmelite Church of Sta. Maria in Traspontina written in Romanesco, the local dialect.
While the Church gained a pope with the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, the parish lost its most illustrious parishioner. As the Cardinal in charge of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI lived for 24 years in an apartment just outside the Vatican walls and within the boundaries of the Carmelite parish. He frequently walked the area of the Borgo, the Roman neighborhood just outside the Sant’ Anna gate to the Vatican.
In 2004 he led the popular Lectio Divina held at the parish. In 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger participated in the parish celebrations for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Roman newspapers quote a member of the parish as saying that he promised to return in 2005.