Source MailOnline News – Thursday, Feb 18th 2016 2PM
The Pope and the married woman who was the secret love of his life: Treasure trove of letters and photographs shed light on John Paul II's extraordinarily close relationship with philosopher
Letters reveal former Pope's relationship with Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka
Probing journalist thinks they were "more than friends and less than lovers.‟
Claims she wrote at least one note declaring her love for him in the 1970s
He then gifted her treasured scapular – a devotional symbol of commitment By HARRY
MOUNT FOR DAILY MAIL PUBLISHED: 01:58 GMT, 16 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:20 GMT, 16 February 2016
They look like any happily married, middle-aged couple: smiling on a family skiing holiday; chatting away and sunbathing at a lakeside camp in the summer.
Except for the fact that the man in the photographs was, for 27 years, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, later declared a saint.
Indeed, during his time in the Vatican, the Pope continued an extraordinarily close relationship with AnnaTeresa Tymieniecka, a married philosopher.
Their remarkable story emerged after the discovery, hidden away in the National Library of Poland, of hundreds of letters from the pontiff to his Polish compatriot, as well as photographs. +8 During his time in the Vatican, the Pope continued an extraordinarily close relationship with Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, a married philosopher (pictured together).
The pair enjoyed time together on the slopes during skiing holidays The documents reveal a fascinating side of Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005. Some pictures show him clothed in his papal vestments, stroking Anna-Teresa‟s cheek with affection, clinging to her wrist and kissing her warmly on the cheek.
The devotion they feel for one another is clear in their eyes. Over their 32-year relationship, the Pope and Anna-Teresa sent each other scores of letters. The Pope even gave her his treasured scapular — a devotional symbol of commitment to the Christian life, made of two tiny bits of cloth illustrated with a picture of the Virgin Mary, worn next to the skin, representing the apron-like garments which monks wear over their habits.
The Pope had been given the scapular by his father for his first Holy Communion. Offering her the treasured object, he explained, in correspondence, let him „accept and feel you everywhere in all kinds of situations, whether you are close, or far away‟. These may sound like the words of one lover to another, but Edward Stourton — the distinguished BBC journalist who unearthed the letters and presented a Panorama programme about the story last night — thinks they were „more than friends and less than lovers‟.
He is, though, convinced that Anna-Teresa declared her love for him in 1975, when he was the Archbishop of Krakow in Poland. Stourton has discovered two main sources for his story.
First, a hoard of photos of Anna-Teresa (who died in 2014, aged 91) with the Pope — including those charming holiday snaps. Anna-Teresa sold her collection of 350 letters to him to the National Library of Poland for a seven-figure sum some years after the Pope‟s death.
But, unlike most high-profile library acquisitions, the letters were kept from public view. Only now, thanks to dogged work by Stourton, who repeatedly asked the library for access to the letters, has this surprising piece of history come to light. +8 The couple's remarkable story emerged after the discovery, hidden away in the National Library of Poland, of hundreds of letters from the pontiff to his Polish compatriot, as well as photographs The story began in 1973, when Anna-Teresa, admiring a philosophy book written by the future pope, flew to Poland to meet him.
At the time, he was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka had aristocratic roots and French blood. She was a leading intellectual, who worked as a professor in mathematics and philosophy at several American universities. In 1956, she married Hendrik Houthakker, a Dutch-American economist at Harvard University, who served on President Nixon‟s Council of Economic Advisers. They had three children and were married for 52 years, until his death in 2008.
Houthakker was also friendly with the future pope, advising him on economic affairs in the then Eastern Bloc countries after the fall of Communism. Indeed, later, as Pope, John Paul II conferred a papal knighthood on Houthakker for his advice. To begin with, Anna-Teresa‟s relationship with the future pontiff was professional.
After that first approach, he answered in formal terms, saying: "Dear and esteemed professor. Thank you very much for the article, The Three Dimensions of Phenomenology…”.
‟ For political reasons, it was vital that they corresponded properly. In Communist Poland, any hint of a relationship between a Roman Catholic cardinal and a married woman in America would have been exploited by the Polish secret police. Thus their letters were often delivered undercover, by nuns working for the cardinal. Of course, Communist leaders were fundamentally opposed to Catholicism — and the Pope was playing a key role in the collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe.
"They installed wire-taps in his flat and his telephone was bugged,‟ says Dr Marek Lasota, an expert in the Communist records at the Institute of National Remembrance in Krakow.
"Every letter was intercepted and checked, both private and official. ‟By 1974, the cardinal was writing in much more personal terms from Rome, where he was attending a meeting of bishops and could express himself more freely than in Communist Poland. He explained he had taken several of her letters to Rome.
Intriguingly, he wrote that he was re-reading the letters because they were "so meaningful and deeply personal, even if they are written in philosophical “code”.‟ Sphinx-like, he added: "There are issues which are too difficult for me to write about.‟ By this point, the torture of the situation is palpable. For her part, Anna-Teresa was married with young children. But unlike her, the future pope, who had taken a vow of chastity, had no acceptable outlet for romantic or physical love.
Over their 32-year relationship, the Pope and Anna-Teresa sent each other scores of letters. In photographs, they looked like any happily married, middle-aged couple: smiling on a family skiing holiday; chatting away and sunbathing at a lakeside camp in the summer +8 Anna-Teresa meets up with the Pope during a trip to the Vatican +8 Anna-Teresa is said to have written a 'love letter' to the Pope during the summer of 1975 How much greater the agony must have been in the following year, 1975.
Stourton is convinced that it was then that Anna-Teresa told him she was in love with him. Frustratingly, the National Library of Poland has copies of Anna-Teresa‟s letters to him but it refused to let Stourton see them, so Stourton had only the Pope‟s letters to Anna-Teresa to go on. Stourton says: "I understand that, in the summer of 1975, Anna-Teresa sat down on a park bench by the city walls of Krakow and wrote what one can really only describe as a love-letter.
"She said that she desired to be in his arms and remain there in happiness. And she apologised for the fact that she had not yet managed to control her feelings. "And that word “yet”, of course, is important because it means that the matter had been discussed before.‟ In the summer of 1975, Anna-Teresa sat down on a park bench by the city walls of Krakow and wrote what one can really only describe as a love-letter Edward Stourton, BBC journalist
Soon after, the cardinal gave Anna-Teresa that treasured scapular — which he called, in a letter, „an answer to the words, “I belong to you”.‟ In March 1976, he wrote again, saying: „God gave you to me and made you my vocation.‟ He also started to go on those skiing and camping holidays — during which she was invited to join him — and photos were taken of him looking utterly relaxed. In the summer of 1976, while taking a group of Polish bishops to a Catholic convention in America, he accepted Anna-Teresa‟s invitation to stay with her family in Pomfret, a remote, rural spot in Vermont.
There, he walked, swam and picked wild berries. Stourton thinks that she again declared her love on that trip. This is because of the contents of a letter the future pope sent her. He wrote: „You write about being torn apart but I could find no answer to these words." He added: "Once — I remember exactly when and where — I heard these words, “I belong to you”. For me … the gift of a person resonated in them. I was afraid of this gift but I knew from the beginning … that I have to accept this gift as the gift from heaven.
"If I did not have this conviction, some moral certainty of Grace, and of acting in obedience to it, I wouldn‟t dare to act like this.‟ Still, the friendship intensified. A relaxed picture of the future pope in his shorts on a camping trip was taken in 1978. That same year, he wrote again to her: „I think it‟s good you sent your letter by hand. It contains things too deep for the censors‟ eyes.‟8 In 1978, he was elected Pope, but still he said he wanted to continue „the exchange of ideas, which I have always thought to be so creative and fruitful‟ Like many a lovelorn man before, he also said: „The telephone has the advantage that I can hear your voice, but it doesn‟t last long enough, so it cannot replace a letter — or a real conversation.
‟For her part, she later described her feelings towards him to one biographer by saying: „He had a way of moving, a way of smiling, a way of looking around that was different and exceedingly personal. It had a beauty about it.
„If there is one trait of character which I can observe in him, it is love of contradiction. People around him see the sweetest, most modest person. He is by no means as humble as he appears. Neither is he modest. He thinks about himself very highly.‟ In 1978, he was elected Pope, but still he said he wanted to continue „the exchange of ideas, which I have always thought to be so creative and fruitful‟.
However, that exchange came to an abrupt halt the following year when Anna-Teresa‟s English translation of the Pope‟s philosophy book, Person And Act, was released. While working together on the project, they met many times — sometimes with his secretary present, sometimes alone. However, critics complained that she had badly altered the Pope‟s original Polish, changing its technical language and adapting the words to fit her own philosophy. For its part, the Vatican launched a legal challenge to the work and the Pope refused to defend her. But then, in May 1981, the Pope was shot in St Peter‟s Square, in an assassination attempt, and there was renewed contact.
Anna-Teresa immediately sent a telegram to his secretary, saying: „I am overwhelmed by sadness and anxiety and want desperately to be close to you. I arrive on Saturday.‟ She was one of the few people allowed to see him in his hospital bed. As the Pope entered his 70s, he developed Parkinson‟s disease. Anna-Teresa regularly went to visit him in his private quarters in the Vatican, as a series of touching pictures show. He often invited her to dinner — many times with her children. She also sent him photos and pressed flowers from her home in America. And he continued to pen affectionate letters, writing in one: „I am thinking about you, and in my thoughts I come to Pomfret every day.‟ In 2002, the Pope made his last visit to Poland.
He wrote warmly to her of „our mutual homeland; so many places where we met, where we had conversations which were so important to us, where we experienced the beauty of God‟s presence.‟ Over the next three years, the Pope‟s health grew progressively worse. The day before he died, in April 2005, Anna-Teresa paid what they must both have known would be her last visit. After 32 years, her chaste, passionate love affair with the world‟s most famous Catholic priest had finally come to an end.