The story of the personal, lifelong friendship between Pope John Paul II and a Polish Jew, Jerzy Kluger. An inspiring and intimate portrait of the Pope, it also tells of the effect of this special friendship on Christian-Jewish relations.
Darcy O’Brien recounts the story that has previously not been told – of the childhood friendship between a Catholic and a Jewish boy, Karol Wojtyla and Jerzy Kluger. Their paths in life diverged following the Nazi invasion of Poland. While Jerzy endured Soviet oppression, Karol entered the priesthood. They did not meet again until nearly 30 years later when Karol Wojtyla had become Archbishop of Krakow.
When Wojtyla becomes Pope, Jerzy finds himself in an extraordinary position as a personal friend of the Holy Father. O’Brien tells of the on-going relationship between the two men, the Pope’s abhorrence of bigotry and anti-Semitism and his embracing of Judaism as the ancestor and brother of the Christian faith. He reveals how John Paul II enlisted Jerzy Kluger to work with him secretly towards Vatican recognition of Israel.
This is a beautifully told story of a very normal, human friendship with one of the century’s greatest spiritual leaders.
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New York Times : Book review 6/9/98
Library Journal: 1/2/98
New York Post: 10/9/98
The life-long friendship that is bringing Catholics and Jews closer together
'John Paul II was seated in the green room on a high-backed, white upholstered chair. The pontiff was beaming as he stood to greet them with outstretched arms. Somehow Jerzy had expected something grander – pomp, a throne, flourishes – but there was Lolek, as disarmingly unpretentious as always.
'Jurek,' the pope said, addressing his friend with the familiar diminutive of his name. 'How wonderful to see all of you. How pretty Stephania looks, as always.' She caught her name, and ran to him. He lifted her into his arms and gently patted her face.
How was one supposed to greet the Vicar of Christ? As his holiness lowered Stephania to the floor, Jerzy also wondered if it made any difference that he had often played table tennis with his old friend who was now the Holy Father. Before he could decide what to say or do, he found himself enwrapped in the papal arms.’
The extraordinary story of the lifelong friendship between Jerzy Kluger and Karol Wojtyla begins in the small Polish village of Wadowice where the two boys grow up together – one Jewish and one Catholic. Their lives take separate paths at the outbreak of World War II when Wojtyla remains to become a priest while Kluger and his father are deported to the Soviet Union. They meet again almost thirty years later when Kluger, now a businessman living in Rome, finds his old friend has become Archbishop of Krakow.
When Karol Wojtyla becomes the first Polish pope, John Paul II, his personal friendship with Jerzy Kluger takes on monumental dimensions. Kluger is enlisted secretly by the pope to work on Catholic-Jewish relations toward Vatican recognition of Israel.
Darcy O’ Brien wrote 11 books adn won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for non fiction in 1997. He also received the Ernest Hemingway Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He died in 1998.
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Book Description Fount, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006281516