Giovanni Paolo II – pellegrino di pace e di speranza in Messsico, San Salvador e Fatima nelle testimonianze di un Nunzio Apostolico


  • Manuel Monteiro de Castro Penitenziere maggiore emerito, Santa Sede



pastoral visits, papal teaching, peace, human rights, Church -state relations, Vatican diplomacy, John Paul II, Latin America


John Paul II – the pilgrim of peace and hope in Mexico, Salvador and Fatima in the recollections of an Apostolic Nuntio

During my career in the diplomacy of the Holy See, I had the opportunity of receiving the Holy Father, John Paul II, during his pilgrimages to Mexico, Salvador, Fatima and Spain. All of those pilgrimages proved to be a remarkable gift for the Church and for the visited countries, thanks both to the extraordinary personality of the Pope and the way in which he engaged current problems and challenges and thanks to his immense influence upon the transformations of the world.
The visit to Mexico in late January of 1979 – the first pilgrimage of the new Pope – took place in extraordinary circumstances: the lack of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Mexico, numerous bans to which the Catholic Church was subject in this country (the clergymen were forbidden to wear frocks in public places, the holy mass could not be celebrated outside sacred places, foreign clergymen were subject to many bans). The main reason of the visit was John Paul II’s desire to participate in the III Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), which was organized in the Puebla de los Ángeles and which was crucial for this continent. The papal decision, with its strategic importance for the Church, continues to impress after the elapsing of a few decades. The risk that was taken by the Pope, who was received only as the head of the Vatican State (not as the head of the Church) and the week that he spent in Mexico proved to be a great success and an event of crucial importance for the future of Latin America.
John Paul II’s pilgrimage to Salvador in March 1983, undertaken during an all-out civil war in that country, had a peace-loving and conciliatory character. By calling the parties of the conflict to mutual respect and forgiveness, the Pope embraced the building of a future based on hope and peace and the rejection of ideologies which fail to respect the dignity and rights of the human person. During his second visit to this country, in February 1996, John Paul II called the citizens and those in power to create an atmosphere of true peace achieved through brotherhood and a just distribution of material goods. The words and prayers of the Pope were answered. The message to the nation and the young people remained in the hearts of most of the inhabitants of Salvador. The real quest for peace began, and this peace was achieved with major difficulties. Fatima was an example of John Paul II’s extraordinary visits – it was made on 13 May 1999, marking the exact day of the memorable attempt on his life in the Vatican (13 May 1981). He thanked the Heavenly Mother for the gift of life and the saving of his life against impending danger.
The pilgrimage to Spain in early May 2003 did not have any features of a ritual or accepted ceremonies. As usual, the Pope demonstrated a remarkable intuition and respect for the traditions of this country. This was the fifth visit of John Paul II to this country (the previous ones took place in November 1982, October 1984, August 1989 – to celebrate the World Youth Day, in mid-June 1993 – to mark the Eucharistic Congress). A special feature of this visit was associated with the canonization of five new Spanish saints and the meeting with young people. During the latter meeting the Pope reminded the participants about the Christian roots of Europe, that Europe should remain faithful to the message and it should not succumb to the ill-conceived modernity. He made a point that the vocation of the Old Continent is to become the beacon of civilization and a stimulant of progress around the world. The Pope called the young people to work for peace, to fight evil by the force of forgiveness and to avoid nationalism and intolerance.
John Paul II’s visits in Latin America, Fatima and Spain were filled with a profundity of teaching and they contributed to the installation of a true world order based on love, peace and forgiveness.


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Author Biography

Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Penitenziere maggiore emerito, Santa Sede

Portugalski duchowny katolicki, kardynał i dyplomata watykański oraz urzędnik Kurii Rzymskiej. Od 1965 r. w służbie dyplomatycznej Stolicy Apostolskiej, pronuncjusz w państwach z archipela-gu Małych Antyli, nuncjusz w Salwadorze, nuncjusz w Republice Południowej Afryki, Namibii, Lesoto i Suazi, a w latach 2000-2009 w Hiszpanii. Od 2009 r. sekretarz Kongregacji ds. Biskupów i sekretarz Kolegium Kardynalskiego, a w okresie od stycznia 2012 do września 2013 r. penitencjariusz większy. Kreowany kardynałem w 2012 r.



How to Cite

Monteiro de Castro, Manuel. 2014. “Giovanni Paolo II – Pellegrino Di Pace E Di Speranza in Messsico, San Salvador E Fatima Nelle Testimonianze Di Un Nunzio Apostolico”. Politeja 11 (3 (29):113-20.



The Holy See on the international arena during the pontificate of John Paul II