A Letter From The Publisher, Oct. 30, 1978

Though a papal election is always a momentous news event, the surprising selection of Karol Cardinal Wojtyla last week as the 264th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church attracted exceptional interest. To report on the background of Polish-born John Paul II, and to assess the reactions of his former parishioners, TIME dispatched Washingtpn Correspondent Gregory Wierzynski to Cracow.

It was like a summons home for the 13-year veteran of Time Inc. Son of one of Poland's most distinguished poets, Wierzynski was born in Warsaw only 2½ months before the Germans invaded. Though he left his homeland in 1946 for Switzerland and, seven...

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