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BBC documentary on St John Paul II features ‘no great revelation’, says Vatican

St John Paul II pictured during a visit to Paris in 1980 (CNS)

The Vatican has said a BBC documentary that claimed to uncover an “intense” relationship between St John Paul II and a married Polish philosophers contained “no great revelation”, the Vatican has said.

Panorama: The Secret Letters of Pope John Paul II, presented by British journalist Edward Stourton, focused on letters written by the former pope to Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka over the course of 30 years. The programme did not feature any of the letters that she wrote to him.

“With regard to a report on the BBC, it comes as no great revelation that Pope John Paul II had deep friendships with a number of people, men and women alike. No one will be shocked by that,” said Greg Burke, deputy director of the Holy See Press Office.

The letters were sold to the National Library of Poland in 2008, and in a statement the library said what St John Paul II’s letters revealed was “neither secret nor extraordinary.”

“The statements made in the media have no basis in the content of the letters of John Paul II to Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka which are in the National Library of Poland’s archives,” a statement for the library said. “The friendship described in the media is well known and has been presented in many publications.

“John Paul II was surrounded by a circle of friends – including clergymen, nuns and laypeople – with whom he stayed in close contact. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka was within this circle of friends – John Paul II’s friendship with her was neither secret nor extraordinary.”

Last night, Cardinal Vincent appeared to tweet about the programme, referring to St John Paul II as being “faithful” to God, his vows and his friends.