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Posted March 29, 2006

A New DVD About Pope John Paul II:

A Pope Toward Holiness: Chronicle of a Pontificate

On Tuesday, the Italian state TV network, RAI, held a press conference to launch a new DVD about John Paul II, called "A Pope towards Holiness: Chronicle of a Pontificate." The DVD is being issued with the April 7 issue of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's massive daily sports paper. It's the first time the paper has ever carried a disk about anything other than sports.

The film includes images of John Paul in the early years of his papacy, and one thing they call to mind is how much John Paul wore his heart on his sleeve, deploying his emotions as part of his communications toolbox. There are scenes of the pope obviously angry, shouting at his audience; then we see the pope beaming, for example while hiking (wearing the all-white papal ski jacket) in the Polish mountains; there are moments when the pope is clearly lost in prayer and adoration, oblivious to the bedlam swirling around him. In contrast to the reserve with which Benedict XVI carries himself, John Paul, we are reminded, was a figure who "let it all hang out."

On hand for the presentation was Fr. Slawomir Oder, a Polish priest based in Rome for the last 21 years who is now the postulator for John Paul's sainthood cause.

"We're working very hard," he said, "but I can't anticipate when this might happen. There are many factors that can play a role in how a particular cause moves forward."

Oder said his job is an "extraordinary adventure" and a "great moment of grace."

"I feel the weight of this responsibility, especially with aspects like relations with the press, for which in many ways I was not prepared," he said.