Pope John Paul II Forgives His Would-Be Assassin

Wojtek Laski / Getty

Pope John Paul II waves to a crowd in Gniezno, Poland, during a visit to his native country in 1997

A pardon from the Pontiff, a lesson in forgiveness for a troubled world

Usually it is the images of the immediate aftermath that are imprinted on the mind, the fragments of a normality shattered just a moment ago. The smoke from the bomb has scarcely cleared. Bodies on stretchers are jounced frantically toward the ambulances, and an arm waves at the camera to clear the way. Plaster clouds and torn clothes everywhere, the neighborhood blown out of its shoes. All in the same viewfinder: rescuers scramble in the chaos, a mother screams as if...

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