CNN documentary looks at pope’s ‘last days’
ATLANTA, Ga. (Catholic Online) – A CNN two-hour documentary takes viewers inside the Vatican to reveal some of the untold stories of the last days of Pope John Paul II.
CNN CORRESPONDENT WITH CARDINAL – CNN Faith and Values correspondent Delia Gallagher interviews Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Pope John Paul II’s friend and personal secretary for 39 years, in Poland. The interview was among a number done in preparation for the premiere of the two-hour CNN documentary “The Last Days of Pope John Paul II.” (Photo courtesy of CNN Presents)
CNN faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher obtained access to both the Vatican and to some of those who were closest to the pope at the end of his life.
Gallagher guides viewers through that life well-lived in the two-hour documentary, “CNN Presents: The Last Days of Pope John Paul II,” which will premiere Saturday, April 1, at 7 p.m. (ET) and replay at 10 p.m. that day and April 2 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Gallagher, a Catholic and former member of the Vatican press corps for seven years, traveled to Poland once and Rome three times for the special report.
She brings viewers to the late-pontiff’s private chapel in Krakow, Poland, and inside the papal apartments and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City and pieces together interviews with those who knew him, to cardinals inside the conclave to elect his successor and to those involved in the sainthood process.
The former managing editor of Inside the Vatican became a Vatican analyst for CNN in 2003 at the height of the clergy sex-abuse crisis when U.S. cardinals came to Rome for discussions with the pope, and covered five papal pilgrimages to Croatia, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.
Gallagher introduces viewers to the pope’s medical team and confidantes who describe the ailing pontiff’s acceptance of his fate.
“Catholics and non-Catholics alike were mesmerized by the last days of Pope John Paul II – and later, by the secret conclave that selected his successor,” said Mark Nelson, senior executive producer for CNN Presents. “CNN will now show viewers what they were unable to see then.”
In interviews with those involved in Pope John Paul II’s sainthood process, Gallagher speaks with Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, who oversees the canonization process for the Catholic Church, and Msgr. Slawomir Oder, who is investigating miracles attributed to Pope John Paul II.
Among other interviews include those with: Mother Tekla Famiglietti, a friend of Pope John Paul II for 25 years, who prayed over his body throughout the night he died; Cardinal Edmund Szoka, the governor of Vatican City; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. and Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who discuss the cardinals’ activities during the pope’s funeral and the conclave voting process; and, Cardinal Stanislaw Dzizisz of Krakow, the pope’s personal secretary of 39 years.
Gallagher said she hopes that viewers of the CNN special report will be inspired, but noted that the pope’s own life story of one of inspiration.
Karol Wojtyla was “a young, poor man from Poland, who lost his mother at the age of 8, who grew up under Nazism, under communism, was able to overcome that, was able to travel to Rome to study to live a life that he considered the fullest way to live – i.e., as a priest, a Catholic priest – and devote himself to that, and to continue doing that until he was 84, through all that suffering,” she said.
“The story of his last days is really the story of his whole life, the story of how he was able to continue to inspire people despite that suffering or because of that suffering,” Gallagher said. “It was a part of who he was.”
The funeral of the pope “was one of the most watched events in history,” she said. The special report, she added, will be a chance “for people to go back and see the video of those days (and) to see it all together.”
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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