.- Peggy Noonan revealed today an exclusive account of the details of what happened on Monday at the Vatican when actor James Caviezel, who plays Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ," met with Pope John Paul II. Mr. Caviezel decided not to reveal the content of his conversation with the Holy Father, nevertheless, he talked to Noonan briefly by phone from Rome, who transcribed what the actor said.
This is Caviezelâs account of the encounter, as reported by the noted Wall Street Journal contributor.
âI walked into the room and I was laughing at myself--who am I, where I'm from, and now I'm going in and sitting here having this huge meeting. And there's the pope sitting there in a chair with a chair next to him and I am to sit in it. I had an opportunity to see him when I was a boy, but I didn't because I had to study for a Spanish test that I probably didn't study for anyway. But my family came back and they were overjoyed. That was in 1984, when the pope came to Vancouver, British Columbia.â
âI walked in and he just waved to me. It was in the Vatican, in a big room; I think it was the library. There were a lot of chambers that went in different places--a room off a room off a room, you know.â
âHe smiled and waved. There were four of us, me and my wife and my mother-in-law and father-in-law. My wife was right to my right. She kneeled first and she kissed his hand. I kneeled down and kissed his hand, and then we talked.â
âDid you ever read the pope's Letter to the Artists of the World? I read it several times when I was a young actor. It was very important to me. It came out and I remember what he said is that part of the truth, right, is accepting--you can't just write about darkness and say 'This is the way it is,' because light always comes through. It must. If you went into a 40,000-foot warehouse, even if you just light a match the match pierces the darkness. It pierces even in the vast amount of darkness. As I see it, the movie is a light, it is a match.â
âSo the first thing I began to talk about was his Letter to the Artists. I told him it gave me great strength in my life and my career. I thanked him. I said, 'Thank you.' The pope--this is a very holy man. He's seen the Nazis and the communists [and there were] people he knew that understand what a regime is like and what they do, and how they can take your freedom from you. He's seen it. This is the pope from Fatima. I think the guy's a mystic. He's a saint. I'm not impressed by celebrity--that word is bad when you're standing in front of a saint. But something moved me. I know he is a saint.â
âI wanted a blessing for my marriage and my family. The other thing I said--the point of the film, I always knew if it's gonna rock you have to have Mary. There are different Christian traditions and ways and views, but let the Holy Spirit do his work, I'm not denying the mother. What her son said on the cross, 'Mother behold your son, Son behold your mother'--it's one of the seven things Jesus said on the cross. He said it. You can't leave it out, so if you include it you have to develop it, you have to tell the story, to show it. He was giving his mother to the world. He gave his mother to John, to the world.â
âSo the second thing I said to the pope is, 'You boldly put the M on your crest.' The Blessed Mother on his crest. She is the one I think who made the movie for her Son. I told [the pope], 'Your statement, your example.' She knew the great pain. We put her son to death for saying, 'Be a good person.' Well, he told the truth. The truth cuts like a sword. That's the sword right there, 'Be a good person.'â
"In the world we make good as evil and evil as good. But here's a guy [the pope] who doesn't do that. He carries a lot of crosses. I don't know how he functions. And there's politics everywhere--everywhere. But the church will survive. It'll be here when we're dust.â
âHow long did I speak to [John Paul]? I can't really remember. It wasn't longer than five minutes with me and 10 minutes with my family. When I left I was happy. I just felt happiness. We all left together.â