Pope Beats Himself...Seriously!




VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt, even on vacation, and slept on the floor as acts of penitence and to bring him closer to Christian perfection, according to a new book by the Polish prelate spearheading the late pontiff's sainthood case.

The book, "Why He's a Saint," also includes previously unpublished speeches and documents written by John Paul, including one signed memo from 1989 in which he said he would resign if he became incapacitated.

The book was written by Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the postulator, or main promoter, for John Paul's canonization cause and was released yesterday. It was based on the testimony of the 114 witnesses and boxes of documentation Oder gathered on John Paul's life to support the case.

At a news conference yesterday, Oder defended John Paul's practice of self-mortification, which some faithful use to remind them of the suffering of Jesus on the cross.

"It's an instrument of Christian perfection," Oder said, responding to questions about how such a practice could be condoned, considering that Catholic teaching holds that the human body is a gift from God.

In the book, Oder wrote that John Paul "frequently spent the night on the bare floor," messing up his bed in the morning so he wouldn't draw attention to his act of penitence.

"But it wasn't limited to this. As some members of his close entourage in Poland and in the Vatican were able to hear with their own ears, John Paul flagellated himself. In his armoire, amid all the vestments and hanging on a hanger, was a belt which he used as a whip and which he always brought to Castel Gandolfo," the papal retreat where John Paul vacationed each summer.


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