The article “The Foreign Pope” is a milestone event taken from the archive of TIME on the climactic account of his last days as Karol Wojtyla, the unknown cardinal from Poland. His election to the Papacy as the youngest Pope since 1846 shattered the 475-year old Roman tradition. It also highlighted the dramatic events inside the conclave as they unfolded: “the sixth balloting when Wojtyla gained unexpected popularity over the heavyweights; over at lunch when Wojtyla was reportedly seen as visibly upset by the coalescing forces; at the final balloting, speculations turned into fears as his friends suggested that he might refuse the papacy; and how Wyszynski took him aside and reminded him that acceptance of the Papacy, should he be elected, was a Cardinal’s duty.” To this day many critics believed that his surprising ascent to the position as the supreme head of over a billion Roman Catholics was the handiwork of the Holy Spirit.
Cardinal Karol Josef Wojtyla, Archbishop of Poland enters the conclave shortly before his election as the Roman Pontiff in October 28, 1978. Photo credit: Central Photo / Getty Images
VATICAN, Monday, October 30, 1978 – White smoke was still billowing Tom the makeshift Sistine Chapel chimney when Pericle Cardinal Felici stepped out on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. After the first wisp of smoke had appeared, signifying election of a new Pope, crowds streaming toward the historic square had snarled every street in Rome west of the Tiber River. Now more than 100,000 people waited expectantly below the balcony. “I announce to you a great joy,” Felici intoned in sonorous Latin. “We have a Pope!” The crowd roared, then hushed to hear the name.
Savoring the suspense, Felici drew out the announcement and the syllables of the name. “Ca-ro-lum …” Some priests gasped. They thought he meant Carlo Confalonieri, 85-year-old dean of the College of Cardinals. “They’ve gone crazy!” cried one of the priests.
Thoroughly enjoying himself, Felici went on: “… Cardinalem Woj-ty-la.”* The crowd froze. “Chi è?”— Who’s he? —Italians asked one another. Possibly an African!? A group of Japanese tourists thought it might be one of their countrymen, though there are no Japanese Cardinals at the moment. An Italian TV announcer uncertainly said, “Polacco” (the Pole), and many viewers thought he had said “Poletti,” the name of Rome’s vicar general.
Felici finally concluded: “… who has taken the name of [pause] John Paul.” This gesture of respect to John Paul I, the gentle Venetian who had died after a 33-day reign, reinforced the cheers that were beginning to roll across the stunned square. Now it seemed to hit everyone at once. “E il Polacco!”—It’s the Pole—said one onlooker. “Un Papa straniero!”—a foreign Pope—shouted others. The realization was beginning to sink in that the supposedly hidebound College of Cardinals had done not merely the unexpected but the nearly unthinkable.
Karol Wojtyla. The first Pope from Eastern Europe. The first from Poland, a nation whose fervor for Roman Catholicism has been unsurpassed for a millennium. The first non-Italian elected since 1522 and thus, in a real sense, the first international Pope to lead a global church. And, in the wake of his frail predecessor, the youngest Pope chosen since 1846. The last under-60 Pope, Pius IX, reigned for 32 years. At age 58, Wojtyla is robust and muscular (he was described in the national daily The Australian as “a man built like a rugby front-row forward”), and it thus seemed possible that he could lead his faith into the 21st century. Plainly, the Cardinals had opted for a long pontificate. Just as plainly, they had chosen a man of extraordinary qualities and experience. A newspaper in Lima, Peru, greeted Wojtyla’s election with the headline LABORER POET ACTOR PRIEST POPE. That and more: quarryman and factory work-in his youth, member of Poland’s anti-Nazi underground, professor of philosophy and ethics, pastor with an unaffectedly common touch. On top of that he is more of an athlete and outdoorsman than any Pope in memory, one who loves to ski in Poland’s Tatra Mountains, to kayak or canoe on the Mazurian Lakes, to climb mountains and hike.
The white smoke that heralded his election also signaled a new and unpredictable phase in religious geopolitics, for Wojtyla is the first Pope to come from a nation under Communist rule. The Cardinals insisted with one voice that they had selected their new leader without intending to set any political line, indeed without even taking time to weigh the ramifications. To be sure, the election came quickly, on the second day and eighth ballot of voting. Still, because of the implications for relations not only with Moscow but also with the powerful Italian Communist Party, few observers had thought that the normally cautious Cardinals would turn to a Communist country if they wanted to go outside Italy for a Pope.
John Paul II realized that with all these forces unleashed, his first public appearance as Pope demanded more than the traditional first Urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) blessing. He broke precedent by delivering a brief speech. As the crowd roared, he strode forward and gripped the balustrade pugnaciously, arms outstretched. His rugged 5 ft. 10½ in. frame, craggy high-cheekboned Slavic features and athletic posture all bespoke self-confidence and authority. “Blessed be Jesus Christ,” he began in his firm, resonant baritone voice. It was a traditional Italian priestly salutation, rarely heard in recent years. “May he always be blessed,” the crowd replied. “Even if I am not sure that I can express myself well in your —our—Italian language [applause], you will correct me if I make a mistake.” In fact, his slightly accented Italian was so polished that this remark was more a gesture than an apology. The new Pope twice paid homage to the Virgin Mary (a figure of extraordinary veneration in Poland) and referred to his new role as Bishop of Rome,* another bid for the favor of his newly adopted flock. At one point during the speech, a Vatican bureaucrat, caught off guard by the new Pope’s departure from tradition, hissed “Basta!” (Enough!) at him; John Paul II ignored him and kept talking.
The new Pope
The impromptu speech went over well. “He may be a foreigner but he speaks our language,” said a woman in the square. “Why shouldn’t we have a foreign Pope?” asked a Rome cabbie. “After all, St. Peter was one.” Lounging in his cafe on a day off, Waiter Lucio Ruspoli said, “It’s a breath of fresh air after 4½ centuries. And now the Pope won’t be so involved in Italy’s politics.”
But the surprising choice was not universally hailed. Many Italians, particularly in the hierarchy, saw the loss of the papacy after 4½ centuries as a defeat and a reprimand. Noting that Wojtyla’s predecessor was not a Vatican bureaucrat but a pastor (Archbishop and Primate of Venice), one Curia prelate said, “If the last conclave gave a flunking grade to the Curia, this one extended it to the whole Italian hierarchy.” Onlookers thought that some Italian prelates looked downcast, even grim, when Wojtyla made his first appearance on the balcony of the basilica. And when Genoa’s Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, the front runner at the start of the conclave, was asked what he thought of John Paul II’s inaugural message, delivered only half an hour earlier, he snapped peevishly: “I can’t remember what he said.”
In Moscow and the capitals of Eastern Europe other than Poland, the official welcome was wary and tepid. In most Communist countries, -there was a telling hiatus of several hours before the party-lining press and radio broke the news. But Peking, which has yet to announce the U.S. moon landings, broadcast the news quickly. Most Communist organs reported the election matter of factly. Soviet Boss Leonid Brezhnev issued a belated pro forma wish for “friendship and peace between peoples.”
Poland’s three top Communist officials, who had jousted for years with Wojtyla and his wily elder colleague Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, 77, cabled the new Pope to tell him of the “great satisfaction” in his homeland. They also lifted travel restrictions so that 5,000 Poles could travel by trains and a private cars to the installation and another more 1,000 could take chartered flights, forming what one official called “an air bridge between Warsaw and Rome.”
The people of Poland were swept up in exultation. When word came, said a Warsaw engineer, “our hearts stopped beating for a minute.” In the Pope’s home see of Cracow, historic political and cultural center of the nation, people of all ages flocked into the streets, singing and shouting and hugging one another. Many gave impromptu speeches, prayed or paraded with Polish flags. Thousands flocked to Wojtyla’s residence on Fran-ciszkanska Street and to St. Mary’s Church, his episcopal seat. At Wawel Castle, where Polish kings once lived, the great Zygmunt Bell, rung only on historic occasions, pealed joyously, as did the bells in all of Warsaw’s churches.
In Wojtyla’s birthplace of Wadowice (pop. 14,000), 30 miles from Cracow, thousands descended on the aged church where he had been baptized, the house where he was born, the school he had attended. At least 20,000 people visited the Pope’s and Poland’s most revered site, the Jasna Gora monastery, where the Black Madonna is enshrined. The ancient painting is credited with, among other things, a miraculous role in repulsing Sweden’s armies.
Across most of the non-Communist world, Wojtyla’s election was warmly greeted, particularly in cities with large enclaves of Polish émigrés, like Chicago. Polish Americans were unabashedly proud. For the first time, the Atlanta Constitution’s Clifford Baldowski signed one of his cartoons “Baldy Baldowski” instead of simply “Baldy”: his drawing showed the new Pope writing a proclamation that said: “No more Polish jokes.” Non-Poles, too, quickly identified with the “foreign” Pope as one of their own. “It is as if a Third World Cardinal had won,” said Brazilian Paulo Cardinal Evaristo Arns. In Australia, where Wojtyla paid a visit five years ago and was photographed feeding kangaroos, he made front-page news once more. T he strongly positive reaction there and elsewhere was explained not only by the break in the Italian connection but also because Wojtyla is widely traveled. He has visited the U.S. and Canada (a total of six weeks in 1969 and 1976), as well as Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, much of Latin America and most of Europe.
The friendships cemented during those travels were to figure importantly last week. TIME has learned, in fact, that the campaign that led to the Pope’s election quickly gained backing among two or more Germans and many of the Americans, led by Philadelphia’s Polish American John Krol, partly because of Wojtyla’s familiarity with their nations and partly because of his doctrinal conservatism and antiCommunism. The original impetus came from a more liberal nucleus of Europeans rallied by Austria’s Franz Konig, who stressed Wojtyla’s commitment to the Second Vatican Council’s reforms.
After his election as Pope, John Paul II appointed Cardinal Ratzinger prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican office that protects and promotes doctrinal purity.
Most had entered the conclave expecting to elect another Italian, for both domestic and international political continuity. Wojtyla himself was said to be backing Florence’s powerful Giovanni Benelli. As Wojtyla carried his scarred satchel into his less-than-choice assigned lodgings in the Apostolic Palace, cramped cell No. 91, he did not take his own prospects seriously. When TIME had asked him to sit for a photographic portrait before the conclave, he waved off the request with a laugh and said, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to become Pope.”
During the first day of voting last Sunday, Wojtyla nonchalantly read a quarterly review of Marxist theory as the timeconsuming balloting dragged on. “Don’t you think it’s sacrilegious to bring Marxist literature into the Sistine Chapel?” joked a Cardinal. Wojtyla smiled. “My conscience is clear.”
That Sunday came to be known as the “Italian day.” The lead candidates were Benelli, 57, who for a decade had virtually run the Vatican as Substitute Secretary of State, and Genoa’s ultraconservative Giuseppe Siri, 72. After Sunday’s first ballot had been completed, Siri quickly showed his strength among Curialists and other conservatives, gaining 46 of the necessary 75 votes on the second ballot. Benelli was second. Blocs of votes went to other Italians—Milan’s Giovanni Colombo, the Curia’s Sergio Pignedoli, Naples’ Corrado Ursi—and scattered votes to other Italians and a few non-Italians.
After the lunch-and-siesta break, Siri slipped back; Benelli gained, but never reached more than 36. Ugo Poletti, Vicar Cardinal of Rome, got 30 votes as an unsuccessful compromise candidate. It was becoming clear that the Curial-conservative alliance would not accept Benelli, who had alienated them with his power-wielding at the Vatican; paradoxically, he was now deemed an anti-Curialist, partly for his backing of John Paul I. Nor were Benelli’s backers about to vote for a dinosaur like Siri, who had recently been quoted in a Turin paper as saying, “Collegiality? I don’t even know what that is.”
A deadlock threatened, and as the Cardinals broke for Sunday-night dinner, talk turned to non-Italians—”like spontaneous combustion,” says one participant. The germ of the Wojtyla candidacy began overnight with “a word here and a word there,” according to another. On Monday morning’s fifth ballot, Wojtyla got only a few votes, but they captured attention. Holland’s Johannes Willebrands drew a respectable vote, and decided to withdraw in Wojtyla’s favor. Wojtyla gained noticeably on the sixth ballot. Over lunch, Wojtyla was so visibly upset by the coalescing forces that his friends feared he might refuse the papacy; Wyszynski took him aside and reminded him that acceptance is a Cardinal’s duty. On the seventh ballot, only a lack of votes from the 25 Italian Cardinals stopped his election. Then the dam broke and virtually all but the ultraconservatives swung to the Pole. On the eighth and final ballot, according to most inside counts, he won a comfortable 94 votes from all but the hard-line right and a scattering of others. The conclave erupted in applause.
The morning after the election, as the Cardinals prepared to concelebrate Mass in the Sistine Chapel, one of them bumped into Wyszynski in the breakfast room and said cheerfully, “There is sure to be great jubilation in your country today, don’t you think?” “Yes,” said Wyszynski somberly, “but there will be none in Wojtyla.” Indeed, Wojtyla told the St. Peter’s crowd that “I was afraid to accept this nomination,” and on at least three occasions in the first 24 hours he wept openly: in the conclave, upon his election; during his first appearance on the balcony; and the following evening when he drove in an open sedan to Rome’s Gemelli Clinic to visit a friend, Bishop Andre-Marie Deskur, who was recovering from a heart attack. He made some remarks to the crowd at the hospital, but when he was finished he forgot to impart the apostolic blessing; an escorting prelate had to remind him to do it. At that point, John Paul II gave another glimpse of the warmth and humanity that helped win him the election. His face crinkling in a smile, he said, “I guess even a Pope has to learn his trade.” Later that night he telephoned an old priest friend in Poland, to whom he confessed: “I call because I feel a little alone. Without you I am a little sad.”
His life in Poland was hard. Wojtyla’s mother died when he was nine and he was brought up by his father, who subsisted for the most part on an army sergeant’s pension. Though many Cardinals—and Popes—have been trained from early youth in the hothouse atmosphere of minor seminaries, Wojtyla went to ordinary high school. He attended Mass each morning and headed a religious society, but equally strong adolescent passions were literature and the theater. He was the producer and lead actor in a school troupe that toured southeastern Poland doing Shakespeare and modern Polish plays.
The Pope-to-be entered the Jagiellonian, the historic university of Cracow, where he majored in philology, but after the Nazi occupation shut down the school he spent World War II working in a stone quarry and a chemical factory. There are persistent rumors that he was engaged or married during this time. The Vatican last week officially denied them, as do friends from those years. However, like many a young man he had an active social life, and at least one steady girlfriend. A devout tailor interested him in the writings of St. John of the Cross, Spain’s 16th century Carmelite mystic, and in 1942, the year after his father died, Wojtyla decided to begin studies for the priesthood at an illegal underground seminary.
That was risky enough, but young Wojtyla was also active in the anti-Nazi resistance. Jerzy Zubrzycki, a high school classmate of Wojtyla’s who is now a sociology professor at the Australian National University in Canberra, says of those years: “He lived in danger daily of losing his life. He would move about the occupied cities taking Jewish families out of the ghettos, finding them new identities and hiding places. He saved the lives of many families threatened with execution.” Meanwhile he helped organize and acted in the underground “Rhapsody Theater,” whose anti-Nazi and patriotic dramas boosted Polish morale.
Ordained a priest in 1946, just as the Soviet-backed Communist Party was beginning to smother all opposition, Wojtyla did two years of doctoral work in philosophy at Rome’s Pontifical Angelicum University. During this period he spent considerable time ministering to Polish refugees in Belgium, Holland and France. Returning to Poland as a parish priest and student chaplain, he spent two years of further study in ethics at Cracow’s Jagiellonian, and later was appointed to a chair in moral theology. In 1954 he began teaching at the Catholic University of Lublin—the only Catholic center of higher education in any Communist country—and soon became head of the ethics department. He became an assistant bishop and in 1962, at a young 42, in effect the Archbishop of Cracow. He first established the international regard and contacts that were to make him Pope during the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). During the council he made eight speeches, the most memorable in favor of religious liberty. Church honors followed: a Cardinal’s red hat in 1967, election as one of three Europeans on the council of the world bishops’ synod in 1974, an invitation to conduct the Lenten retreat for Pope Paul VI’s household in 1976.
Overshadowed internationally by Wyszynski, at home Wojtyla is considered to be an equally resilient enemy of Communism and a more threatening figure to the party as a powerful preacher, an intellectual with a reputation for defeating the Marxists in dialogue, and a churchman enormously popular among younger Poles and laborers. Before his election as Pope, it was widely expected that the regime would exercise its veto power to block him from succeeding Wyszynski as Primate.
Wojtyla is tireless, sometimes putting in 20-hour days, and known as a voracious reader. He is fluent in Latin, Italian, English, French and German, as well as Polish. Not Russian? Said a priest in his entourage when asked that question last week: “No Pole speaks Russian—but everyone understands it.” A flip-up desk allows him to write while being driven in his car. He has a disconcerting habit of reading or writing while carrying on a conversation—and then displaying total recall of what was said.
The new Pope does not smoke, drinks wine only occasionally, and cares nothing for food, dress, or social distinctions. Says a Catholic editor in Cracow: “He will eat anything that’s put in front of him.” Another friend adds in jest: “If the Italians knew about his taste in wines, they would never have agreed to have him as Pope.” Father Mieczyslaw Malinski, a former classmate of the new Pope’s and a longtime friend, notes that “he is a man without pretensions. His driver told me: ‘I feel ashamed of the Cardinal. He is always so shabbily dressed. Look at his shoes, shirts—they are worn out.’ ”
An avid skier, he takes a week off each year to schuss in the Tatras, dressed in baggy wool pants and old-style lace-up boots. His only concession to luxury is a pair of Head skis. Another friend, who calls him “one of the daredevil skiers in the Tatras,”adds, “He loves the thrill of it, the danger.” Once, during a midwinter interview with TIME’S Bonn bureau chief, William Mader, Wojtyla gazed out the window of his residence and said, “I wish I could be out there now somewhere in the mountains, racing down into a valley. It’s an extraordinary sensation.”
Wojtyla is equally rhapsodic about canoeing and kayaking, and was in fact on a kayak trip when he was named a bishop in 1958. Wyszynski’s staff could not find him for hours, but finally managed to get him back to Warsaw. “The Pope has nominated you to become a bishop,” Wyszynski told him. “Will you accept? You know the Holy Father does not like to be turned down.” Wojtyla thought for a moment, then said: “Yes. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t return to my kayak trip, does it?” It did not, and he was back on the lakes in a matter of hours. While camping, he takes along a portable altar for Mass and fashions a cross by lashing two paddles together.
Wojtyla’s closest friends include artists and intellectuals as well as clerics. He is a lover of music—Bach, Poland’s Henry Wieniawski and folk songs being favorites. A New Hampshire woman remembers that she once broke her leg while skiing in Poland and was serenaded in the nearby hospital by a group of fellow skiers; only later did she learn that the guitarist was Bishop Wojtyla. On retreats, he often takes the guitar along and sings late at night with fellow priests.
Wojtyla has written four books and more than 500 essays and articles. A Polish publisher is planning to put out soon a thin volume of his poetry on the theme of the fatherland. When Wojtyla visited Harvard University in 1976 to deliver an abstruse philosophical lecture, Summer School Director Thomas Crooks came away considering him “one of the most impressive men I’ve met in my life. He had an absolutely radiant personality.”
Another Boston-area intellectual who knows and admires the new Pope is Anna? Teresa Tymieniecka, a fellow Pole who heads the Institute for Advanced Phenomenological Research. Wojtyla is an expert in phenomenology, a theory of knowledge that bases scientific objectivity upon the unique nature of subjective human perception. He has written a major work on it, Person and Act (1969), which Tymieniecka is translating into English. Summarizing the Pope’s complex thought, she says: “He stresses the irreducible value of the human person. He finds a spiritual dimension in human interaction, and that leads him to a profoundly humanistic conception of society.”
Does Wojtyla’s philosophy of the individual’s inalienable right of self-determination mean that he will welcome the explorations of liberal theologians and take a tolerant view toward individual conscience on knotty matters that perplex Catholics? Not necessarily. As Harvard Divinity School’s George Williams sees it, Wojtyla’s philosophy of individual self-determination permits man to challenge the totalitarian state as in Nazism, or economic determinism as in Communism. But, says Williams, that does not necessarily mean that man has “self-determination against God.”
Indeed, Wojtyla is known as a staunch conservative on specific issues of doctrine, morality and church authority. On the birth-control question, Wojtyla was on record against all artificial methods in his book Love and Responsibility (1960) before Paul VI took the same position in his much attacked Humanae Vitae encyclical of 1968. But the book also emphasized sexual pleasure for married couples —an advanced view for a pre-Vatican II archbishop. Wojtyla has also taken an uncompromising stand against liberalized abortion, yet another issue on which he opposes Poland’s Communist regime.
In his inaugural speech to the Cardinals last week, the new Pope touched a number of traditionalist chords, mentioning the First Vatican Council, with its dogmas on papal authority, the “discipline” of the clergy and the “obedience” of the laity. But he also stressed the church’s obligation to promote the reforms of the Second Vatican Council “with prudent, but encouraging action.”
Significantly, John Paul II emphasized “collegiality” and advocated “appropriate development” of the Synod of Bishops, now a powerless, muted body. Observers of the Polish church scene note that Wojtyla turned the meetings of Poland’s bishops from a rubber stamp for Wyszynski into a collegial and more powerful voice of the church. In his own archdiocese, he sought priestly and lay involvement through an innovative “Pastoral Synod,” a seven-year series of discussions on church affairs reminiscent of far more radical nationwide gatherings in Holland that were banned by the Vatican.
But the Polish church carries a conservative image overall, and its situation is unusual. One seasoned observer at the Protestant-Eastern Orthodox World Council of Churches considers Wojtyla’s election “an expression of nostalgia” by the Cardinals, who see Poland’s church as an “obedient” one that “does not have to grapple with the problems of secularization, wayward theologians, birth control, empty churches, deserted seminaries or priests straining to get married.” Some Catholic liberals argue that while strong church authority is necessary for survival in Poland, it only causes trouble in the West.
Wojtyla is well aware of these tensions. For ten years he was a consultant to the Council for the Laity in Rome, and other visits to the Vatican and extensive reading have kept him abreast of wider church discussions. Monsignor Zdizislaw Pesz-kowsky, of the Polish-American seminary in Michigan, who has known Wojtyla for 24 years, says that while the new Pope is interested in the liberals’ agenda—divorce, celibacy, women priests and the like—he “stresses that these problems must be dealt with by priestly zeal,” not further compromise.
Last week’s papal inaugural speech contained a noteworthy sentence on ecumenism: “Hopefully, thanks to a common effort, we might arrive finally at full communion” with other Christians. That does not appear to be mere lip service. Just four days before Wojtyla’s election, Protestant Billy Graham preached to an overflow audience at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic church in Cracow—at the personal invitation of Cardinal Wojtyla. The choice of a Pole stirred deep anxiety among Jews in Israel and elsewhere, because of Poland’s history of antiSemitism, but hurried phone calls to Poland and Rome reassured Jewish leaders. Besides his wartime exploits, Wojtyla prodded the bishops to back Jewish intellectuals during the Communists’ anti-Semitic drive of 1968. He has led many visits to Auschwitz, which lies within the Cracow archdiocese.
Says Jesuit Paul Tipton, head of Alabama’s Spring Hill College: “The church must cut through all cultural, ethnic and racial lines. The Catholic Church does this, more so even than the U.N. It is the only voice speaking for peace and justice in the modern world.” This, to him, is far more important than birth control or celibacy, and in that world role Wojtyla is certain to be an articulate activist, a strong spokesman for human rights and economic justice.
Wojtyla wrote last year that Jesus Christ is “a reproach to the affluent consumer society … The great poverty of people, especially in the Third World —hunger, economic exploitation, colonialism—all these signify an opposition to Christ by the powerful.” Advocates of the Marxist-influenced “liberation theology” in Latin America thus hope that the Pope will be sympathetic to their program. But knowledgeable observers in Rome expect the opposite. Asked on West German TV last year whether Marxism could be reconciled with Christianity, Wojtyla replied bluntly: “This is a curious question. One cannot be a Christian and a materialist; one cannot be a believer and an atheist.”
Political observers will of course be watching the new Pope’s every move in relation to the Communist nations. But he is not likely to change the general lines set by Pope Paul. In the long run it may be far more significant that the Pope is a non-Italian, and that he has lived in a relatively impoverished land, than that he comes from the Soviet bloc.
Some believe that an outsider will be eaten alive by the Vatican bureaucracy. But those who have observed Wojtyla’s career know that he is no pushover. He knows the art of byzantine maneuver and long-range tactics, having learned it in confrontation with a Communist bureaucracy at least as formidable as that at the Vatican. He has already thrown the Curia off balance, in fact, by failing so far to reappoint all major officials, as is customary. On Saturday the Pope addressed the Vatican press corps, then to the consternation of his aides waded into the throng of 1,000 like a U.S. presidential candidate, shaking hands and answering questions in five languages for more than a half-hour. The next day he was installed in an open-air Mass without being crowned with a tiara—a precedent of humility set by John Paul I.
Just before the conclave began, Joseph Malula, the stocky black Cardinal from Zaire, sat dejectedly on a wooden chair in a bare seminarian’s room and scornfully waved his hand at the Vatican vista outside the window. “All that—all that imperial paraphernalia. All that isolation of the Pope. All that medieval remoteness and inheritance that makes Europeans think that the church is only Western. All that tightness that makes them fail to understand that young countries like mine want something different. They want simplicity. They want Jesus Christ. All that, all that must change.” Fifty hours later, Karol Wojtyla stepped into the fisherman’s shoes and, in incalculable ways, perhaps the change has begun.
*His other titles: Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican State.