New book features in-flight interviews with John Paul II


Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi recently announced the release of the book, “Traveling Companions, In-flight Interviews with John Paul II.”

The book, which features a selection of in-flight interviews the late Pope John Paul II gave to journalists, was released March 23 at the offices of Vatican Radio. Fr. Lombardi explained that Vatican Radio preserved recordings of the interviews given by John Paul II during the first years of his pontificate. The organization then made them available to journalist Angela Ambrogetti, author of the new book.

The book was published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house.

Fr. Lombardi told Europa Press that John Paul II developed the idea of in-flight interviews because “he saw the media as a possible ally in his ministry” to proclaim the Gospel, especially in countries where “freedom of expression was lacking.”

He noted that the late Pontiff, who will be beatified on May 1, wanted to convey “his message of justice, peace and so many values important to the world.” 

“He did so with great spontaneity and freedom,” the Vatican spokesman said.

John Paul II's skills as a communicator “were cultivated by his training as a young actor.” Karol Wojtyla “had a gift, an original charism and expressive zeal” that was nourished by “his pastoral experience in which he applied his skills as a communicator at the service of his ministry,” Fr. Lombardi continued.

He noted that the in-flight interviews were an effective way for the late John Paul II and now Pope Benedict to highlight the main messages of their papal journeys.

John Paul II’s former personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, noted in the book's introduction that “John Paul II’s relationship with the press was not easy.”  “It was a sincere and fruitful relationship” because “they had to be professional.” The Pope asked the journalists to truthfully report “what they saw in both the big cities and the most remote villages.”

The presentation of the book was attended by the organizer of papal trips for John Paul II, Cardinal Roberto Tucci, the director of Libreria Editrice Vaticana and the book’s editor, Giuseppe Costa, and Vatican analysts Gian Franco Svidercoschi and Paloma Gomez Borrero.