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New TV documentary on the Pope a "humdinger"

Globe & Mail columnist John Doyle wrote yesterday that a new documentary on the Pope screening across Canada on the CBC network on Tuesday and Wednesday night is a "humdinger". He writes: "This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill Life & Times about some low-grade Canadian celebrity. It's a detailed, three-hour examination of his life, career in the Catholic Church and influence over events in the world."

Doyle says, "the juicy stuff is the suggestion that John Paul II worked closely with the Reagan White House in a secret alliance that orchestrated the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. We're told that he met regularly with the head of the CIA, William Casey, and that the American government often gave him secret intelligence information about the intentions of the Soviet Union. Not to demean the program or the man, but what we're presented with here is John Paul II: International Man of Mystery."

"The program gives us a solid picture of Wojtyla during the war years and immediately after, but much of that will be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to this Pope and his background. It gets really interesting when his involvement in international affairs is described. Then it gets even more compelling as it moves into a discussion of his leadership of the Church."

The columnist concludes that while the Pope "was shrewd in recognizing the weaknesses in Communist Eastern Europe, he was hopeless in anticipating necessary change within the Church itself. Theologian Hans Kung, himself an immensely influential figure in Catholicism, says bluntly that John Paul II betrayed the Second Vatican Council and had only led the Church into a moral crisis."

Globe & Mail

8 Jan 2003