To Our Readers: Dec. 26, 1994

Indisputably a newsmaker, Pope John Paul II can be a reluctant man in the news. It tells you something that he admires Pius IX, the 19th century Pope who withdrew into his palace after Italy seized from the Vatican both Rome and the papal states. Reclusive is no word for John Paul, but the widely traveled figure whom TIME has made Man of the Year is still deeply and deliberately private. Meaning someone who almost never grants on-the-record interviews. Meaning, journalistically, a tough nut to crack.

On the morning of Dec. 7 in Rome, a group of TIME editors and correspondents...

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