News

Book Reveals Unpublished Press Conferences With John Paul II on Papal Airplane

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
21 Apr 2011

Press conferences at over 6,000 feet in the sky. It was a practice that began with a question by an American journalist to John Paul II during his first trip as pope. The reporter wanted to know if he would visit the United States. John Paul II said that he would definitely visit the country but he would have to specify when. This question marked the beginning of a custom that now seems normal during papal trips, but until then it was unheard of and unthinkable.

Angela Ambrogetti
Author, "Compagni di viaggio"
"John Paul II was not afraid to take risks, to speak with the press. It was an impressive thing in many respects."

The Vaticanist Angela Ambrogetti has compiled almost all these interviews with the pope in her book, "Compagni di viaggio," or "Traveling Companions."

Angela Ambrogetti
Author, "Compagni di viaggio"
"It took about one year, the most important work has been digging in the archives of Vatican Radio, because all this material was his. I had to listen, translate and shape it, because in most cases the audio was flawed, there was a lot of confusion. It's been a work of investigation, searching in archives and organizing an enormous amount of material, which spans many countries and every continent."

Angela Ambrogetti takes us to the cabin of the papal aircraft and follows continent by continent through the travels of Pope John Paul II and the highlights from each trip.

Angela Ambrogetti
Author, "Compagni di viaggio"
"John Paul II traveled with the Gospel in hand, carrying the spirit of the second Vatican Council. He didn't travel like a politician but more as a priest or a bishop that goes to visit Catholics with the Gospel in his hand."

The book also looks at the pope's interactions with reporters from the press pool. One of the most memorable moments from these press conferences was when John Paul II talked about personal things and his own life.

The book also notes the pope's great sense of humor. A reporter once asked if he ever became tired during his trips. The pope said no, he was just trying to tire everyone else, especially journalists.

Angela Ambrogetti
Author, "Compagni di viaggio"
"The most special moments were when John Paul II talked about fundamental things, what was important to him: personal or health problems, and how to face them in life. And he did it in a way that was completely transparent."

It's a book that provides the public with unpublished material showing the character of John Paul II, his relationship with journalist who were effectively his traveling companions.