A newly re-released radio interview gives a rare glimpse of the late Pope John Paul II’s views on world hunger, justice, and human search for God.

Two years before he became pope, Polish cardinal  Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II,  called on America not to ignore the problem of world hunger while emphasizing that the search for God can bring the ultimate meaning and solutions to this and other issues of human existence. In the 1976 interview, which has been re-released to coincide with the second anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death on April 2, Cardinal Wojtyla stressed that physical hunger afflicts many societies, especially in the developing world. He called hunger a basic human problem and said that the need for a greater awareness of this problem is especially true in the United States, which he described as perhaps the richest nation in the world.

 

The 1976 radio interview with the future Pope John Paul II was recorded for the Voice of America (VOA), the U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasting station which features news and information programs for foreign audiences but whose programs have been drastically reduced in recent years under the management of the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). At the time of the interview VOA was broadcasting radio programs to Poland and other countries which were under communist rule. The interview recorded in Washington, D.C. was first aired in August 1976 and aired again on the Voice of America in October 1978 immediately after Karol Wojtyla was elected pope. Cardinal Wojtyla traveled to the United States in 1976 to attend the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, Pa.

 

The interview provides a rare glimpse of the late Pope John Paul II’s views on the meaning of religion. In the interview, Karol Wojtyla referred to the major themes of the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia to describe various needs felt by contemporary societies and individuals, listing among them the need for justice, the need for understanding, and the need for love. Wojtyla concluded, however, that the search for God can provide the ultimate meaning and solutions to the problems of human existence. “Man hungers for God” and “Man’s heart is unsettled without God,” the future Pope John Paul II said in the 1976 radio interview with the Voice of America.

 

 Ted Lipien, a former VOA Polish Service reporter who interviewed Cardinal Wojtyla in 1976, has made the opening segment of the interview available in Polish with a transcript in English on the FreeMediaOnline.org web site. FreeMediaOnline.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression and supporting independent journalism worldwide.

 

Ted Lipien, who is founder and president of FreeMediaOnline.org, has been speaking out against the Bush Administration’s plans to reduce Voice of America broadcasts to Russia, China, Tibet, Uzbekistan, and several others countries where press freedom does not exist or is under threat from authoritarian regimes. Lipien points out that interviews with world leaders, such as the one with the late Pope John Paul II, are becoming increasingly rare on the Voice of America as its programs are being eliminated by the BBG, which manages U.S. overseas broadcasts. His criticism of the way the Bush Administration and the BBG have been crippling the U.S. ability to conduct a peaceful dialogue with the rest of the world through VOA broadcasts was published in the article “America’s Disarmament in the War of Ideas” posted on the FreeMediaOnline.org web site.  Ted Lipien is also the author of “A Mutual Misunderstanding – Pope John Paul II’s Vision of Women and Family.” The book will be published in the United States by Hippocrene Books later this year.

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