May 15, 2016

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (051516)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: This man was 9 years-old when he saw John Paul II get shot

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Washington:

May 13, 2016 / 03:01 am

Thirty-five years after Saint John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square, a witness from the front rows of the security barricades says that the now-canonized Pope offers an example – and a challenge – of forgiveness for children who witness violence.

For witnesses and victims of violence, many experience the temptation of hopelessness, despair and even hatred, David DePerro told CNA in an interview.

“Then you think of John Paul visiting Mehmet Ali Agca,” DePerro said, pointing to the Pope’s visit to the man who attempted to assassinate him on May 13, 1981. “In that respect, it’s extremely annoying,” DePerro said with a laugh, “because you have to forgive. You just have to.”

May 13, 1981

In 1981, David DePerro was nine years old, living with his siblings and parents in Würzburg, West Germany, where his father was stationed as a member of the U.S. Army. In May of that year, his family took their second trip to Rome along with a tour group from the Army base. As one of three children, David was paired as seat mates with a young priest, Fr. Rachly, for the entirety of the bus ride from West Germany to Italy.

On May 13, the group went to the Pope’s weekly Wednesday audience, and “all the kids crowded up to the front” in order to shake hands with the Pope and wave as he drove by in the Popemobile. David and his siblings were up against the security barricade along the open-air vehicle’s route in St. Peter’s square, and the Pope drove by as they reached out. Several minutes later, the Popemobile circled back so Pope John Paul II could greet the children and faithful gathered on the other side of the aisle cleared out for the vehicle’s route.

The Popemobile passed by again, this time across from DePerro’s group. “It was then that I heard the popping sounds,” he recalled. “That was all it was- popping sounds: I thought they were fireworks.” Still the sound of fireworks was unsettling, odd: David had only ever seen fireworks before on the Fourth of July or New Years’ Eve – not on a Wednesday in broad daylight.

As it turned out, Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish citizen, had attempted to assassinate John Paul II, firing four bullets at the Roman Pontiff. Fr. Rachly, who had stood behind David at St. Peters’ Square, had seen Agca raise his gun as he attacked the Holy Father.

The scene after the shooting was chaotic, as the Popemobile sped off, DePerro remembered. “We didn’t know what was happening.” After the Pope left, the witnesses were kept in the square “for hours and hours and hours- they would not let us leave” as Swiss Guards confiscated cameras and film to search for evidence and to treat bystanders who were injured in the shooting.

The four bullets Agca fired hit John Paul II and left him seriously injured, passing through the Pope’s abdomen, arms, and narrowly missing his heart. Two of the bullets that passed through the Pope hit bystanders, one of whom was a member of DePerro’s group from Germany. The woman, who had to stay in Rome for treatment, had been struck in the elbow while resting her arms on the shoulders of one of the religious sisters traveling with the Army group. The woman’s elbow was only inches from the sister’s head.

“When John Paul II said ‘the gunman fired the gun, but Mary guided the bullet,’” DePerro started, “there was more than one bullet that she guided that day.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.