To learn more about the officially ‘Blessed’ John Paul’s legacy today, in the city he served before becoming a pope, euronews went to Krakow, to talk to people there.
One of those who was close to Karol Wojtyła, both before and after he became known to the world as John Paul II, is Father Adam Boniecki, who is both priest and journalist.
At the prominent Catholic newspaper he directs, ‘Tygodnik Powszechny’, he spoke of his old friend.
Boniecki said: “He had great hope, through the experience of the independent trade union movement Solidarnosc, that one could find a sort of third way, without a strict implementation of the rules of capitalism, without socialism and communism, but based on the principles of human solidarity, from the sources of Christian culture. He was sure of that. He used to say: ‘You see? This is something we can offer the world, and it comes from Poland.’”
One of the young journalists at the newspaper said he is frustrated that many people gloss over how the man strived to find answers, did not present himself as a figurehead but worked to reconcile a vast variety of humanity.
Journalist Michal Kuzminski said: “I am worried that here in Poland, especially in his country, he is known as a figure, as a symbol, but not really as a thinker, as a writer, as a philosopher. We should put much more stress on reading and studying him than on ways of worshipping him.”
Some younger Poles’ knowledge does appear to be sketchy on the extent of their greatly-respected countryman’s career.
Here were the responses of two, interviewed at random, in Krakow:
“Straight from the Vatican he helped us against poverty and against Communism. It is the most important for us.”
“I think that nowadays young people really admire John Paul II, but honestly I don’t know very well his legacy.”
The well-informed have noted the man’s courage but also say he was tough against theological dissenters, lenient over sexual abuse by priests or even too open to other religions.