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Ordinary Poles poured out their feelings: postal authorities reported that half of all the telegrams dispatched in Poland Wednesday night were get-well messages to the Pope. Those who crowded into St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw for special services were startled to hear a tape-recorded message from their country's primate, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, 79, who is said to be dying of cancer. In a strained voice he declared: "I am afflicted by various ailments, but they are nothing compared with the sufferings inflicted on the head of the church."
John Paul's travels have made him a familiar personality in every corner of the world, a beloved figure to many humble people who have seen no other celebrated name in the flesh. In Mexico, which the Pope visited in early 1979 on the first foreign tour of his pontificate, Ingracia Lopez, 78, who had sat in the front row at one of the Pontiffs Masses, mourned: "He has such a great affinity for all Mexicans, such charisma, such heart. This shooting is an act of insolence." Brazilians, whom the Pope visited for twelve days last summer, referred to him in prayers as "John of God." In one dreary shanty town, where John Paul left his gold Cardinal's ring as a donation to the local church, a parishioner called him simply "the best man on earth."
By week's end the pall of shock and fear had begun to lift slightly. The Pope improved enough the day after the shooting to take Communion at a Mass said in his room by Monsignor Dziwisz, receive brief visits from some Vatican prelates and speak to his doctors. Carlo Cardinal Confalonieri, the Dean of the College of Cardinals and one of John Paul's visitors, reported that the Pope has "no resentment in him, but complete forgiveness toward" his would-be killer. Francesco Crucitti, a surgeon at the Gemelli hospital, said he had asked the Pontiff whether his pain had diminished. John Paul had replied: "I am hoping."
Other doctors described the Pope as "a little depressed" and running a slight fever. On Friday he began moving his arms and legs in physical therapy exercises and felt more cheerful. But because of the danger of infection following any such grave abdominal wound, the next few days will be critical. The most John Paul's doctors would permit themselves to say was that "nothing has gone wrong so far."
Meanwhile, police were trying to determine whether Agca had any accomplices, despite his insistence that he had acted alone. The gunman was formally charged with attempted murder of the Pope and of the two women who were wounded in the attack. If convicted, Agca could be sentenced to life imprisonment. He apparently will not be extradited to Turkey: an international treaty that has been signed by both countries exempts criminals from extradition to a country where they would face a more severe penalty (in this case, the penalty would be death) than in the nation where they are captured.
The world was left searching for new ways to express shock, grief, horror, apprehension. By now the words have all been saidagain, and again, and again. But they acquired new poignancy last week. Of the millions of expressions of sorrow, none exceeded in directness and simplicity the cry of a sobbing woman in Madrid: "The world has gone mad!"