Pope John Paul II was guest at Harvard summer school and in July 1976

Cardinal’s Visit a Memorable Occasion
- Edward Kasinec

The news of Karol Cardinal Wojtyla’s election as Pope John Paul II was greeted at HURI with initial incredulity. Once convinced that the information was accurate, the directors of the Institute sent a telegram of congratulations, wishing him well in the new and burdensome office. His name was not known to the world at large prior to his election as pope, but the Polish spiritual leader had been recognized for a long time in Ukrainian intellectual circles as a great force for religious freedom and tolerance in Poland.

In the summer of 1976 scholars at HURI were delighted to learn that Cardinal Wojtyla would lecture at the Harvard Summer School. His personal sponsor was George Hunston Williams, distinguished Hollis Professor of Divinity and a strong supporter of the Ukrainian Studies Program.

Since we knew that the Cardinal would not be at Harvard for long, Professor Strumins’kyj drafted a letter quickly. It was signed by Professor Pritsak and delivered to the Cardinal’s secretary at the Dana Palmer House. We were delighted when he accepted the invitation to tour HURI and to talk with the staff. His Eminence was accompanied to the Institute by Professor Wiktor Weintraub of the Committee on Ukrainian Studies.

It was a memorable occasion. When we met the Cardinal, we were especially struck by the simplicity of his dress, a black cross and a simple silver ring on his hand. Great spirituality shone from his face. He was completely serene and unaffected as he met the members of the Institute.

It was my pleasure to conduct His Eminence on a tour of the library of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. After the tour there was a small buffet in the Institute Seminar room accompanied by a lively exchange of views in Karol Cardinal Wojtyla and Professor Omeljan Pritsak Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, July 28, 1976.

Polish and Ukrainian between the Cardinal and the scholars of the Institute. The accompanying photograph is a precious memento of the occasion. It was a most happy occasion at the time, and an honor to remember now that Karol Cardinal Wojtyla has become Pope John Paul II.

 Number 1 March 1979 a newsletter for the friends of The Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute

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