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Cicero (De Oratore): "Historia magistra vitae est" - History is life's teacher
- the study of the past should serve as a lesson to the future
Winston Churchill: "The further back you look the further ahead you will see."
but / at the same time
Unconditional love is the root of unconditional forgiveness
John Paul II recites the Angelus at Gemelli hospital on Sunday May 17, 1981:
"Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I have sincerely forgiven".
Pope John Paul II forgave Mehmet Ali Agca for Agca's assassination attempt on him in 1981
His Holiness John Paul II Biography Pontificate
Pope John Paul II assassination attemptOn Wednesday, May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City. The Pope was shot and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali Ağca, a trained sniper from Turkey. The Pope was struck 4 times, and suffered severe blood loss. Ağca was sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court. The Pope later forgave Ağca for the assassination attempt, and Ağca was pardoned by president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in June 2000 at the Pope's request. Following the shooting, Pope John Paul II asked people to "pray for my brother [Ağca] ... whom I have sincerely forgiven." In 1983, he and Ağca met and spoke privately at the prison where Ağca was being held. The Pope was also in touch with Ağca's family over the years, meeting his mother in 1987 and his brother a decade later., Ağca developed a friendship with the pontiff. In early February 2005, during the Pope's illness, Ağca sent a letter to the Pope wishing him well (full text here)
Earlier the day he was shot, Pope John Paul II established the Pontifical Council for the Family (Pontificium Consilium pro Familia, Pontificio Consiglio per la Famiglia) here. The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Colombian Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo said that the Council "was born with a baptism of blood.". The attempted murder resulted in cancellation of a big pro-abortion rally set for that evening in Rome. His Holiness saw the attack 'one of the final convulsions of the arrogant ideologies [Nazism and Communism] unleashed during the 20th century' and his subsequent miraculous survival as symbolic of the triumph of God over the plans of evil. Pope John Paul II, Memory and identity: conversations at the dawn of a millennium (here)
Starting from the 1994 Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family is responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families: Rome 1994; Rio de Janeiro 1997; Rome 2000, in the framework of the Jubilee of Families; Manila 2003, Valencia, Spain in 2006, Mexico City 2009, Milano, Italy in 2012, Philadelphia, USA in 2015.
entries regarding Mehmet Alì Agca
1981 May 13 At 5:19 p.m. a young Turk Mehmet Alì Agca makes an attempt on the Pope's life while he was circling St. Peter's Square before his General Audience. Severly, wounded, the Pope was operated on for 6 hours at Gemelli hospital.
1983 December 27 Visit to the Rebibbia prison and meeting with Alì Agca , the Turk who made an attempt on the life of John Paul II on 13 May 1981.
2000 June 13 John Paul II expresses his satisfaction for the clemency granted to Alì Agca by the President of Italy during this jubilee year. (full text here)
The Time Magazine, January 19, 1984
Pope John Paul II Forgives His Would-Be Assassin
by Lance Morrow
It is difficult to imagine a more perfect economy of drama. The Pope's deed spoke, not his words, and it spoke with the full authority of his mortal life and the danger to which Agca had subjected it. The meaning of John Paul's forgiveness was profoundly Christian. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him.
All during the past year, the 1,950th anniversary of Christ's death and hence of the Christian redemption, John Paul has preached the theme of reconciliation. The visit to Agca was his culminating gesture on the theme. The sermon that he preached with his visit to Rebibbia was an elaboration of what he had said in a town near Northern Ireland's border with Eire in 1979: "Violence is evil. Violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems. Violence is unworthy of man. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity."
John Paul meant, among other things, to demonstrate how the private and public dimensions of human activity may fuse in moral action. What he intended to show was a fundamental relationship between peace and the hearts of men and women, the crucial relevance of the turnings of the will and spirit. Seeing the largest possible meanings in the most intimate places of the soul, John Paul wanted to proclaim that great issues are determined, or at least informed, by the elemental impulses of the human breast—hatred or love. Wrote the Milan-based Catholic daily Avvenire last week: "In the midst of so many voices raised to ask for negotiations between the superpowers on the basis of pure equ ililibrium of strength, in the choir of pacifism which proclaims that only peace counts, all else is relative... a Pope has the courage to utter the ancient word—the responsibility for each evil rests in man as a sinner. There will be no escape from wars, from hunger, from misery, from racial discrimination, from denial of human rights, and not even from missiles, if our hearts are not changed." Said Italian Writer Carlo Bo: "The Pope intends to say, If we really want peace, we must make the first step, we must forget offenses and offer the bread of love and charity.' " The visit to Agca did not come as a surprise. It had been rumored for at least two weeks that John Paul intended to see his attacker during a Christmas-season visit to the more than 2,000 inmates of Rebibbia, on the northeastern outskirts of Rome.
Since his conviction on July 22,1981, Agca has been serving part of a life sentence in the prison's maximum-security wing. When the Pope arrived in his cell, Agca was dressed in a blue crew-neck sweater, jeans and blue-and-white running shoes from which the laces had been removed. He was unshaved. Agca kissed John Paul's hand. "Do you speak Italian?" the Pope asked. Agca nodded. The two men seated themselves, close together, on molded-plastic chairs in a corner of the cell, out of earshot. At times it looked almost as if the Pope were hearing the confession of Agca, a Turkish Muslim. At those moments, John Paul leaned forward from the waist in a priestly posture, his head bowed and forehead tightly clasped in his hand as the younger man spoke.
Agca laughed briefly a few times, but the smile would then quickly fade from his face. In the first months after the assassination attempt, there had been in Agca's eyes a zealot's burning glare. But now his face wore a confused, uncertain expression, never hostile. The Pope clasped Agca's hands in his own from time to time. At other times he grasped the man's arm, as if in a gesture of support.
John Paul's words were intended for Agca alone. "What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me," the Pope said as he emerged from the cell. "I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned, and who has my complete trust." As John Paul rose to leave, the two men shook hands. The Pope gave Agca, who will turn 26 next week, a small gift in a white box, a rosary in silver and mother-of-pearl. The Pope walked out. Agca was left standing alone, and the camera recorded a sudden look of uncertainty on his face. Perhaps he was thinking about the prospect of spending the rest of his life in jail for attempting to kill a man he did not know, a man who now came to him as a friend.
Later, John Paul spoke to the women inmates of the prison about what had happened on this "historic day." Said the Pontiff: "In the context of Christmas and the Holy Year of Redemption, I was able to meet with the person that you all know by name, Ali Agca, who in the year 1981 on the 13th of May made an attempt on my life. But Providence took things in its own hands, in what I would call an extraordinary way, so that today after two years I was able to meet my assailant and repeat to him the pardon I gave him immediately ... The Lord gave us the grace to meet as men and brothers, because all the events of our lives must confirm that God is our father and all of us are His children in Jesus Christ, and thus we are all brothers." (full text here)
On my knees I beg you to turn away from violence
Pope John Paul's homily at Killineer, near Drogheda, Co Louth
on Saturday, October 29th, 1979.
"I join my voice today to the voice of Paul VI and my other predecessors, to the voices of your religious leaders, to the voices of all men and women of reason, and I proclaim, with the conviction of my faith in Christ and with an awareness of my mission, that violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems, that violence is unworthy of man.
Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings. Violence is a crime against humanity, for it destroys the very fabric of society. I pray with you that the moral sense and Christian conviction of Irish men and women may never become obscured and blunted by the lie of violence, that nobody may ever call murder by any other name than murder, that the spiral of violence may never be given the distinction of unavoidable logic or necessary retaliation. Let us remember that the word remains for ever; "All who take the sword will perish by the sword."" (full text here)