(6 of 14)
By then the news had long since burst on the world, which discovered that it is not so inured to such terrorism and violence as it may have thought. True enough, attempted assassinations of public figures have become so commonplace that many draw little attention. Threats and even close calls are routine. In February a grenade exploded in a stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, 20 min. before John Paul entered; the headlines were modest.
But that the Pope should actually be hit and woundedthat still had a unique capacity to stun. The outpouring of anger, outrage and sympathy for the fallen Pontiff was all but universalfar more extensive than it had been for Ronald Reagan six weeks before. Explained Amos Barak, a young Jewish businessman in Jerusalem: "Shooting presidents, that's politics, that I can understand. But shooting the Popeit's like shooting God!"
The reaction of world leaders went far beyond the official statements of condolences that their aides have become so unhappily adept at phrasing. Said Reagan: "I'll pray for him." Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev cabled the Pope: "I am profoundly indignant at the criminal attempt on your life." Dismayed West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt exclaimed: "I feel I've been hit in the abdomen myself!"
Outgoing French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who escaped a terrorist bomb in Corsica last month, sent a wire to the Vatican expressing "profound emotion," and he obviously did not exaggerate his feelings. An associate who was conferring with Giscard when the news came reported that the French President, who is noted for his icy reserve,' experienced "an enormous shock." Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi told reporters: "I am too shocked for words. What more can I say?"
Throughout the world, Catholics flocked to churches to pray at special services for the Pope. At one such ceremony, in London's Westminster Cathedral, Basil Cardinal Hume delivered what may have been the most telling tribute to the Pontiff. Said Hume: "He is now at one with the countless victims of violence of our day. He, like them, has now followed in the footsteps of a Master who was himself so cruelly and callously tortured and killed. He, like his Master, refuses to condemn, is ready to forgive."
The grief was perhaps greatest in Poland. John Paul has been an inspirational force to his overwhelmingly Catholic fellow countrymen, who are struggling to liberalize their nation's Communist system without plunging it into anarchy. Acutely aware of the Pope's influence, Party Boss Stanislaw Kania, President Henryk Jablonski and Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski joined in a telegram wishing him a speedy recovery "so indispensable to fulfilling your mission in the service of the humanistic ideals of peace and the welfare of