Secret Letters of Pope John Paul II


Secret letters discovered by the BBC show that Pope John Paul II had a strong relationship with a married woman. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka was a Polish-born philosopher who got to know Cardinal Karol Wojtyla during the 1970s, when he was the Archbishop of Krakow. After the war she emigrated to the United States, where she studied philosophy, married and had three children.

She sold her private letters from him to her to the National Library of Poland in 2008. They were allowed to be made public after her death in 2014. A huge collection of photos were also found.

The Pope had  a few female acquaintances, but the letters suggest that the relationship between him and  Tymieniecka  was more emotional  than others. Although they exchanged letters often and became good friends there is no evidence of a sexual relationship between the two. Photos accompanying the letters show Wojtyla casually dressed outside a tentleaning on ski poles or walking in the forest.

Tymieniecka influenced the future Pope's life very much. She and the Cardinal often discussed philosophical issues. They worked together on an English language edition of the Wojtyla's The Acting Person, his major philosophical book . They had their working sessions at various destinationsincluding Rome, Krakow and Vermont, where Tymieniecka lived.

During the papacy of John Paul II Tymieniecka remained a close friend. Her last visit to Rome was a day before he died in 2005.



Wojtyla took great risks in getting involved with the American woman. In those days  the Communist government saw the Roman Catholic church as an enemy. It placed high-ranking clergymen under surveillance at all times. When Woyjtyla wanted to write her letters he had to do it from Rome, in order to escape censorship at home.



Related Topics



  • accompany = here: found with
  • acquaintance = person who you have come to know
  • allow = to give permission
  • although = while
  • archbishop = high-ranking bishop who is in control of all the other bishops in a certain area
  • casual = not formal ; not for a special event
  • censorship = here: to look through letters and remove anything that may be dangerous to the government or the people in power
  • clergyman = priest
  • destination = place
  • discover= find for the first time
  • edition = special form of a book that is published
  • emigrate = to go to another country to live and work there
  • emotional = to have strong feelings
  • enemy = someone who wants to hurt you ; not a friend
  • escape = get away from
  • evidence = facts that show something is true
  • exchange = here: write to each other
  • female = women
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • including = also
  • influence = to have an effect on
  • involved = here: being in a close relationship with someone
  • issue = topic
  • high-ranking = in a high position
  • huge = very big
  • lean = to move your body towards an object
  • major = most important
  • papacy = the time during which a Pope is in power
  • philosophy = the study of nature and the meaning of the universe and of human life
  • place = put
  • public = here : for everyone to see
  • remain = stay
  • secret = something that only very few people know about
  • suggest = to say that something may be possible
  • surveillance = to watch someone very carefully, because they may have committed a crime
  • session= meeting
  • tent = place you can stay and sleep when you go camping
  • various = different