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The Final Confrontation Print E-mail
By Fr. C. John McCloskey   
Sunday, 01 June 2014

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.

“We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”
 
– Bicentennial talk given in the United States by the future St. John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Kraków, Poland

My eyes almost popped out when I first read this. I could not believe it was authentic, but I have checked it repeatedly and yes, he did say it. And he said it to us Americans, who were at perhaps the apogee of our greatness, short of the fall of the “Evil Empire.”

Well, how seriously should we take this? Very, very seriously. After all, the speaker was about to become one of the greatest popes in the history of the Church. In addition, he was a mystic and, yes, a prophet and truth-teller who suffered under Nazism and communism, as well as in a certain sense also from Islam. (Recall that he was almost killed by a Muslim assassin, only to be saved by the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, according to his own words.)

Let me be clear: my musings on the words of John Paul are not meant to encourage you to sell your property, close the bank account, build a bomb shelter, and await the rapture. That is not the Catholic thing to do. But it’s hard not to “ponder these things in [our] hearts.” What exactly did the pope see or have revealed to him? Perhaps the best place to seek the answer is his writings, although we lack space to comb through them all here.

We can also look around us at the remains of what was once called the Christian West, noting a host of behaviors and beliefs that seem custom-made to initiate and accelerate decline. For example, we find in the West depopulation, legal abortion, open homosexuality and same-sex “marriage,” epidemic levels of pornography use, declining marriage rates, and rising cohabitation rates.

Politically, even supposedly tolerant and democratic states like our own are beginning to deny the religious liberty rights of families, businesses, and churches. In addition, we observe growing centralization of power in the hands of those unfavorable to any faith except the idolatry of health, wealth, and technology. They place their long-term hope in the possibility that science may one day arrest death. They watched too many Star Trek and Star Wars movies as children. Unfortunately, they may well go where many men have gone before – and not simply into outer space.

This, surely, is the Anti-Church that St John Paul foresaw – in any event it is here, it is growing, and to a great extent it has already demolished Europe.


           Cardinal Wojtyla at the Shrine of Our Lady, Orchard Lake, Michigan (1976) 

What are we to do? First, of course, do not despair. As Catholics we live this life looking forward to the next. We can’t lose, for as St. Paul put it, for us death is gain, not something to fear.

How then to confront and combat the Anti-Church? Imitate the lives of the first Christians! Consider this justly famous description of Christians in the anonymous “Letter to Diognetus,” written in 79 A.D.:

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. . . .They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. (2 Corinthians 10:3) They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. (Philippians 3:20) They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. . .they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; (2 Corinthians 4:12) they are insulted, and repay the insult with honor; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers.

If we live as the first Christians did, we too can confront and triumph over the Church of the evil Global Empires.


Fr. C. John McCloskey
is a Church historian and Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington DC. 
 
 
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Comments (33)Add Comment
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written by Sherry, June 01, 2014
When you connect the dots, it is not a pretty picture but it is better than a bunch of unconnected dots that are confusing.

Let us pray for wisdom and fortitude.
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written by Manfred, June 01, 2014
Father, this message is so complete that I hesitate to add to it. The Third Secret of Fatima is finally to be revealed to us as well as the message of Akita (1973). I would only add that Pope John Paul also urged Catholics to pray the Rosary in an attempt, however late, to mitigate the enormous penalty the world will be required to pay for its lusts and excesses.
Thank you for this excellent alert.
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written by JP, June 01, 2014
Wonderful comments, Father, but we can't just marry like the early Christians did. Because of the culture war you mention, which is also a form of Spiritual War, it has become very difficult if not impossible for faithful Catholics to marry. Secular society is closed to us, and we don't have the Catholic lay society or parish communities that supported marriage in the 1950s. There are large numbers of single Catholics in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond who have not married and will probably never marry in the current environment. It is tremendously discouraging and disheartening (and deliberately so in the intention of the Evil One) to be bombarded by propaganda about homosexual unions and to be surrounded by friends who take cohabitation and contraception as a norm, and who think you are mentally and emotionally defective not to do the same, when all the while single Catholics are ignored in parishes and frozen out of parish social life. There needs to be a New Evangelization of Marriage. There is a lot more the Church could do to foster individual marriages, particularly for those who aren't married yet. Prayers for single people at every mass would be a good start. Also an end to the view that the Church is indifferent to whether single people with a vocation to marriage marry or not. Never-married Catholics are on the front line of the Culture War, and we are getting no support and no recognition from any one. That's why so many people in the 20-50 demographic have left the Church early and not come back or stayed as long as they could but eventually left out of loneliness and discouragement. The Evil One's attack on marriage is a central strategy of his attack on the Church.
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written by schm0e, June 01, 2014
The term Anti-Church is perhaps the most haunting, the most devastating, the most desolating. For of all countries where the Catholic will feel an alien, no feeling is so alien as that of being an alien in the Church, among Catholics who are Anti-Catholics.

"It is no longer possible to avert [this tribulation, this final confronation between good and evil]" -- means that for a time, it was possible to avert it. This is heartbreaking, humiliating, and nigh-unto damning. The very socio-political conditions the author cites as evidence of the truth of Wojtyla's words could not have been brought about without the strenuous support and assistance of Catholics who are not Catholic - Anti-Catholics, and thus the Anti-Church.

Each true Catholic might reflect on the question of whether he did not do enough to avert this now inevitable and universal confrontation.

At least it is now willing to be discussed by those who only a short time ago dwelt in denial and dismissed all such discussion as "fanaticism". Perhaps now we can acknowledge that it has fallen to us engage these circumstances and therefore we might ready ourselves to suffer more honorably than we lived while in peace.
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written by Christophe, June 01, 2014
John Paul II said in 1976 that "we are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church" -- why did he not make this belief the touchstone of his papacy, rather than the facile optimism of Gaudium et Spes (which he helped to write during the Council)?
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written by Dave, June 01, 2014
This is a perfect article for us as we prepare for Pentecost next Sunday - a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit will fortify us with the gifts and the fruit of the Holy Spirit so that we may be able to withstand the anti-Church and advance the Kingdom of God. This quotation of then-Cardinal Wojtyla has been on my mind for years; googling it will bring you to a host of website that list private revelation (non-binding) by Catholic saints for centuries on the times in which we live. I'm with Father: there's no rapture, whatsoever (a 19th century American invention) and "he who perseveres to the end will be saved." I am reminded of Benson's Lord of the World and O'Brien's Elijah, both good summer reads, perhaps (Lord is the more difficult of the two, though you will be amazed at his prescience). Thank you, Fr. McCloskey.
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written by DeGaulle, June 01, 2014
Manfred, I must agree with you that this article is complete and almost perfect in itself. I was unaware of this prophesy from then Cardinal Wojtyla, but it strikes me as so counter-cultural to the times that it must be Truth.
That same Truth rings in your reference to Akita. As Sister Agnes tells us, Our Lady said "Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach." That the honour of this final last hope would be granted to His mother seems to me wholly consistent with what we know of Our Lord.
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written by ted seeber, June 01, 2014
This is not prophecy, it is observation. Even I, six years old in 1976, could see the forces of the anti gospel gathering. One could argue, in the 20/20 vision of hindsight, that those forces were fully two decades old by 1976.
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written by Myshkin, June 01, 2014
Seven days ago I quoted this very passage from the Letter to Diognetus in a combox on TCT. Glad to see it again so soon!

Thanks for a post worth meditating.
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written by Rich in MN, June 01, 2014
SchmOe gives an important reminder for me regarding my role (both past and present) in the propagation of evil. I tried to go to Reconciliation yesterday but both priests were at the Archdiocesan ordination ceremony, so Confession had ended earlier than I had expected. Instead, I prayed a Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament. I struggled to stay focused while in prayer (which is a common problem for me). However, on my walk home from Church, I was thinking about my own bad choices, and I recognized sin as the betrayal it is: the most grave form of ingratitude. Sin is being given a myriad of gifts by some very powerful King who loves me tremendously and then I use his gifts to hurt Him. It is like being told an intimate, private secret by a close friend and then posting it on the Internet. How do I make up for such a betrayal? By giving the gifts back? Rededicating to the King the gifts I have profaned? That is an important gesture, a good start, but that cannot possibly heal the relationship. The only thing that can possibly restore the friendship after betrayal is for the One Who was betrayed, the King, to call me to His side and to say to me, "Let's just forget about this incident and move on. Try not to mess up again, and do your best to use your gifts for the purpose for which they are intended."
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written by Chris in Maryland, June 01, 2014
I am of one heart and mind with Fr. McCloskey and the commenters.

I think that the Church in America - which then Cardinal Wojtyla was addressing - still largely has its head in the sand - manifesting the "Stockholm Syndrome" resulting from its "relationship" with its captor - the devouring zeitgeist.

Showing their utter disorientation from reality, LBGT "Catholic" Churches in NYC erect Jihadist propaganda in front of shrines to Our Lady, while Christian boys are burned alive and Christian girls are sold into sex slavery by the Jihadists.

And in my home parish, do I hear a prayer of the faithful for our persecuted siblings in Christ? Do I hear a prayer for those persecuting our siblings in Christ? NO.

Instead...homogenized pablum that "world leaders" (e.g., Putin?) will seek peace, that conflict in the Middle East will end, and then back to prayers about our ourselves.

DETACHED from reality.
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written by Chris in Maryland, June 01, 2014
JP is speaking the truth.
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written by Jim , June 01, 2014
Definitely agree with the comment on marriage. Satan's message to Catholic singles is you will never be married/you will always be lonely unless you get with my program. Perpetual singleness is a form of white martyrdom.
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written by Walt, June 01, 2014
Father please share the reference for the quote with us. After a quick internet search there appears to be much confusion about the origin of this quote.
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written by Jack,CT, June 01, 2014
Father,truly nothing to add but thanks!
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written by JRF, June 01, 2014
To those truly concerned, not to worry! One of the tenets of the LCWR is that they are "ahead of Jesus", the times and of course the church. All will be well when they get Rome straightened out on this "doctrinal assessment" they have been unfairly subjected to.

Thanks Father for this grim but needed reminder.
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written by Cubs fan , June 01, 2014
Dating and marriage are not like the 1950s for those who choose to live that way. The mark of the beast is premarital sex and contraception, and you have to buy your way in--or wait a very long time. These are the end times, and the persecution is now.
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written by schm0e, June 01, 2014
Jesus' teaching about the end of time depicts unthinkably disastrous conditions for domestic life.
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written by Manfred, June 01, 2014
@Christophe, and all others: Thank you for your excellent question: If these facts were known, why haven't warnings been shouted from the rooftops? We must go back to The Ratzinger Report (1984)Ignatious Press page 110. Ratzinger answers the writer Messori as to why the Third Secrret had never been made public..."A stern warning has been issued from that place (Fatima)that is directed toward the prevailing frivolity, a summons to the seriousness of life, of history, to the perils that threaten humanity. It is that which Jesus Himself recalls very frequently: '...Unless you repent you will all perish'...(LK 13:3) Conversion-and Fatima fully recalls it to mind-is a constant demand of Christian life. We should already know that from all of Sacred Scripture." Messori alludes to Ratzinger's final comments: " To publish the 'third secret' would mean exposing the Church to the danger of sensationalism, exploitation of the content."
Compare Ratzinger's words with Hans Urs von Balthasar and Fr. Robert Barron on the likelihood that very few souls are in Hell.
Now here is my, and Christophe's question: If both John Paul and Ratzinger/Benedict knew these facts thirty years ago, why has not the Fatima message and Sacred Scriture been taught at every sermon for the last thirty years? Do you recall Cdl Bertone, when the The Third Secret was released(?)in 2000 staring this was historical, as it pertained to the assassination attempt on JP II in 1981. years later while on a plane to Fatima Benedict stated that the secret pertained to the FUTURE.
Compare Father's piece today, as well as the citations above to any statement made by Pope Bergoglio and then ask yourselves this question: What value, if any,does the Bergoglio papacy play in the salvation of each one of our souls? I humbly suggest the result would be that we would be so nonchalant that we would be damned.
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written by Paul, June 01, 2014
It seems the once favored are now at the bottom of the heap (ie. white Christian males and the unborn). I agree a cultural storm is coming but we must be careful, Satan could use the "Right", "Left" or "Center" to accomplish his plan.
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written by bill russell, June 01, 2014
This really is not a new discovery. Father George William Rutler cited that quotation of Cardinal Wojtyla in his book "Beyond Modernity." It is just a tragedy that in this time of ultimate confrontation with the Anti-Gospel, we have such an insipid crowd of church leaders in the United States: back slapping and cigar smoking while the Devil laughs.
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written by Woody Jones, June 01, 2014
Dear Father,

Many thanks for this article which suggests so much to us that is important. Juxtaposing the last part of Saint John Paul's address: "How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time." with this from the Letter to Diognetus: "They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners." I take away the thought that we must live as pilgrims, that is, as people who are travelling light on the way to the House of the Heavenly Father, or in other words, to practice detachment, as indeed did Saint John Paul, and thus be ready for the heroic sacrifices, even to the shedding of blood, that will be required to renew the Church. Certainly this will; include standing firm for the full expression of the Faith, not some watered down compromise with the secularist culture. I regret to say that I, for one, and most that I see around me, are not yet up to this level, but nunc coepi, let us begin now.

Cardinal DePaolis, in his address on the marriage and the family recently, said much the same.

Finally, I have usually seen the Letter to Diognetus cited as a means of suggesting that we Catholics must fit in, acclimate to the society, so as to practice an apostolate of trust and friendship, and the like. While I of course agree that we must sanctify our work, sanctify ourselves in our work and seek the sanctification of others in the context of our professional relationships, nevertheless, I do believe that we must also be ready, when the time comes, to rise above the ordinary. This will not mean slaying lions in the hallway, but it may mean being slain by lions in the arena.
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written by Peter Shafton, June 01, 2014
Thank you Fr McClusky for a great article, I agree with Manfred, there isn’t much one can add to it.
Cardinal Wojtyla / Pope John Paul II’s revelation does paint a very sobering picture; but we are CATHOLICS, and are so well equipped to climb out of even the deepest ditch, that we need not let ourselves descend into despair.
Families are the breeding ground for good Catholics, that’s why Satan and his minions are hell-bent on smashing Catholic families. We, parents, have a responsibility to teach our children the reality of Satan’s work, even though Catholic schools and even many priests appear to back away from the subject.
It’s NEVER too late, but the longer we wait, the more we suffer. So, let’s follow Our Holy Mother’s plea and PRAY, PRAY the ROSARY. We have Jesus Himself in the Eucharist, let’s all go to Him – often.
May we always remember; ONLY WE, CATHOLICS, have the ammunition to defeat Satan!
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written by markrite, June 02, 2014
This is simply stunning, and brings back memories of things read many years ago, almost as in a different space or time,especially within the context of the present, which in many ways, has the feel, at various levels, of being in endtimes. Fr. McCloskey is to be roundly commended for,among other things, being courageous enough to say what must be the 500-pound elephant in the living room for many, the real state of this culture; "Gadarene", as I once heard Malcolm Muggeridge describe it over twenty years ago. And nothing's really changed, except to seemingly grow worse. Now, there ARE bright spots here and there, i.e., the growth of pro-life anti-abortion convictions of many here in the U.S., as delineated in some recent polling, perhaps to the tune of 55-60%, and this is great news. Perhaps we as a nation are beginning to turn a corner in this regard, certainly there are so many more young folks who seem to grow and grow in these pro-life convictions. But, the very ominous and seemingly inchoate sentiments based on pure subjective emotion, encapsulated in the cry, "we must be free to love whom we want," i.e., same-sex "marriage," certainly doesn't bode well for many of us opposed to this notion, and which is exacerbated by the machinations of the GayLeft. When will the preaching from the pulpit against this noxious idea start, like when contraception started among so many Catholic married women, and the Catholic Church in the U.S. refused to fulfill it's duty to preach against evil "in season and out?" Even when (now) Blessed Pope Paul VIth issued "Humane Vitae"? Are we the Faithful to be left twisting in the wind societally because the Catholic clergy in this country will, once again, be too afraid to "do their duty"? Just asking.aginu
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written by Fr Robert Pearson, June 02, 2014
Back in the "Rescue" days I quoted Diognetus in talks at two Seminaries. Timeless!
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written by HV Observer, June 04, 2014
I remember hearing these words around the time they were given, and thinking that "the anti-Gospel" referred to Soviet-style Communism. Plainly no one commenting here would agree with that. But clearly Pope John Paul II's battle with the Soviet Union was a confrontation, no? But not the last confrontation?
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written by John D, June 09, 2014
Re: Schmoe's comments. These are very heartfelt and powerful comments, Sir. Well said! Perhaps we should reflect on the time when it was possible to avert the confrontation and its ongoing disastrous results. In 1917, and again in 1929, in communications to the Fatima seers and to Sr. Lucia alone (1929) Our Lady of Fatima asked for the pope to consecrate RUSSIA (not the world) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This was to be done with all the world's bishops on the same day in a public manner. It has never been done in this exact manner, no matter what the "experts" say. I am 70 years old and have been interested in Fatima since childhood. I have a large fatima library and have studied the apparitions. There are so many Neo-Catholic writers out their who continually denegrate the claim by the real experts (many highly educated priests and other Catholic writers who give you "meat" instead of neo-cath "pablum.) that the consecration has not been done. It hasn't been done! How many realize that WWII could have been averted if P. Pius XI had obeyed our lady and consecrated Rusiia before 1938? And yes, he was informed about the request in time. Regarding our own times, Our Lady wanted the Third secret of Fatima revealed to the world in 1960. Pope (Saint!) John XXIII refused-pure and simply refused! Why? Because it would have halted his Second Vatican Council plans in their tracks! I can't go into the analyzed writings by great catholic authors regarding the real contents of the secret (only the unexplained vision of the pope's murder ihas been revealed and it isn't the assassination ATTEMPT on JPII.) We are in the mess we are in now largely due to the failures of popes! Yes, we are complicit because we did not pray enough for the popes, but after the 1950's the church's leaders downplaaayed Fatima. so, although we are assured by Our Lady that "in the end" her Immaculate Heart will triumph because "the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted {to Catholicism!} and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world." That's what she promised but it will now require a catastrophe(s) to bring it about..Read Akita.
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written by Ray, June 09, 2014
Fr. McCloskey,

Have often seen this alleged comment by Cardinal Wojtyla.
Nobody, but nobody ever gives the specific occasion or the source of his remarks. As an historian, surely you are familiar with the concept of the primary source. Why don't you cite it? Maybe this is not possible, maybe Wojtyla's alleged comment is just an urban legend?

Regards,

Ray D
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written by Brad Miner, June 09, 2014
Dear Ray D.: Your snarky comment to Fr. McCloskey aside, if you had done some research yourself, you'd have found that the speech was given in Michigan in 1976. You can get a full explanation of it at the website of John Hittinger, Reflections on the Philosopher Pope, which includes the photo above. (I've made the photo caption a link to Hittinger's post.)
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written by Charlotte, June 09, 2014
When St. Bernadette (Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, France)
was in her early 20's she gave her only interview. She was asked what she most feared and without hesitation, she answered, "Bad Catholics."
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written by Ray, June 09, 2014
Fr. McCloskey,

Mr. Brad Miner characterizes my comment to you as "snarky."
On re-reading it, I have to agree -- it is snarky. I wish I could undo it and rephrase it in a courteous way. Please forgive me.

Regards,

Ray D
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written by Rosemary Sporleder, June 10, 2014
Thank you Father McCloskey! I have always admired the Opus Dei priests for encouraging the faithful to be positive and do all the good they can. We truly sanctify ourselves and others doing this. If just the negative was given to the Catholic people they might despair. Focus on the good! This article is to alert us to be heroic Catholics. We can't be "ordinary" anymore! Strive to be Saints!
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written by Annie, June 11, 2014
"My eyes almost popped out when I first read this." Mine too, seeing yet another reference to this quote whose origin no one is giving properly. "Bicentennial talk given in the United States by the future St. John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Kraków, Poland"? When and where? I am not saying that St JPII couldn't have said it, as it's not unlikely, but I simply wish whoever re-posts it listed his or her source (and believe me, I've checked for any more specific sources, even with The John Paul II Foundation’s Centre for Research and Documentation of the Pontificate in Rome and even they could not find this quote among the documents in their possession. I'm only saying that people recycle quotes that had been posted on the Net, without any verification, or proper attribution and then quotes take on a life of their own.


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