CNA Staff, May 13, 2021 / 03:05 am
A cardinal has recalled the moment that St. John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square 40 years on from the attempted assassination.
The Polish pope collapsed into the arms of the then Msgr. Stanisław Dziwisz when he was struck by four bullets on May 13, 1981.
“Holding the slumping and heavily bleeding Holy Father, I was in shock; but I knew we had to act to save his life,” recalled Cardinal Dziwisz on the 40th anniversary of the incident.
“St. John Paul II, despite the pain, remained calm, entrusted himself to God and Mary, and already on the way to the hospital, losing consciousness, said to me that he forgives the assassin.”
The pope was standing in a Jeep greeting a crowd of around 10,000 people when would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Ağca shot him at close range using a 9mm Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol.
Bleeding profusely, John Paul II was rushed to hospital with two bullets lodged in his lower intestine. The other two bullets struck his left index finger and right arm.
Dziwisz, the pope’s longtime personal secretary, said he believed that John Paul II was targeted because of his outspoken defense of human rights.
“The assassination attempt against John Paul II was the consequence of his steadfast demand for the respect of human rights, especially in the context of enslavement by totalitarianism,” he said.