Tag: John Paul II

Highlights, Women

Polish Gulag woman-prisoner befriended by John Paul II

By Ted Lipien

In my book, Wojtyła’s Women: How They Shaped the life of Pope John Paul II and Changed the Catholic Church, I describe how future Pope John Paul II, whom I had interviewed in Washington D.C. for the Voice of America (VOA) in 1976 when he was Kraków’s Archbishop, became familiar with many stories of immense suffering of Polish women under both Nazi and Soviet occupation. 1


  1. Lipien, Ted (Tadeusz Lipień). Wojtyła’s Women: How They Shaped the life of Pope John Paul II and Changed the Catholic Church, Winchester, UK: O Books, 2008. Lipien, Ted. Wojtyła a kobiety: Jan zmienia się Kościół. Warszawa: Świat Książki, 2010.
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Glos Ameryki, History, Photo, Poland, Public Diplomacy, Religion, VOA

History’s Greatest Fourth of July Birthday Card: A Personal Story of Polish-American Friendship

By Ted Lipien

Today, July 4, 2017, America celebrates its Independence Day.  This article is about a unique way in which the citizens of the interwar Polish Republic marked in 1926 the 150th anniversary of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. I combined it with a personal story about my relatives and other inhabitants of my former hometown of Mszana Dolna who participated in the 1926 4th of July celebrations.

Wojewodztwo Lubelskie (Lublin Province); Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States: Representatives of palatinates and districts, provincial organizations, military institutions, social organizations, and faculty and students of academic institutions; Volume 2
Wojewodztwo Lubelskie (Lublin Province); Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States: Representatives of palatinates and districts, provincial organizations, military institutions, social organizations, and faculty and students of academic institutions; Volume 2; The Library of Congress Collection; 1926


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Voice of America Interview with Future Pope

Cold War Radio Museum Cold War Radio Museum
October 16, 2016

John Paul II in 2004A radio interview with future Pope John Paul II, recorded and first broadcast by the Voice of America (VOA) in 1976, was rebroadcast by VOA’s Polish Service on October 16, 1978, shortly after the news of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła’s election as new Roman Catholic pope had been announced at the Vatican.

On the anniversary of the election of Kraków’s Archbishop as Pope John Paul II, Cold War Radio Museum is posting the audio of the VOA interview. The conversation is in Polish. An English transcript of the opening segment is included below the audio player.

Former VOA Polish Service announcer, producer and artist Roma Starczewska Murray is credited with saving the 1976 recording and putting it on the air in VOA Polish Service evening broadcasts on October 16, 1978, the day of John Paul II’s election.

VOA broadcaster and future VOA Polish Service director Tadeusz Lipień (Ted Lipien) had conducted the interview with Cardinal Karol Wojtyła in the summer of 1976 in Washington D.C. at the American University campus where Krakow’s archbishop was staying at a guest house. Wojtyła’s long-time personal secretary and future Archbishop of Kraków Stanisław Dziwisz had traveled with him to the United States and was present during the interview. Cardinal Wojtyła visited Washington after attending the 1976 Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia where he met Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski who later became President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981. 1

The Polish archbishop took some political risk in agreeing to talk to the Voice of America during his 1976 U.S. visit. The communist regime in Poland objected to VOA Polish broadcasts, but not as much as it objected to Polish broadcasts by Munich-based, U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe – RFE (Radio Wolna Europa – RWE).

The VOA interview was not overly political, but Cardinal Wojtyła spoke about the universal human need for liberty and truth. While it was a powerful statement for anyone listening in Poland, that was as much as Cardinal Wojtyła could say publicly to VOA without getting in trouble with the communist authorities after his return to his native country. For the same reason, there was no meeting during his visit to Washington with U.S. President Gerald Ford.

An interview with the Voice of America was a risk he was willing to accept to show his support for free speech and democracy. During the Cold War, Cardinal Wojtyła was communicating secretly with Radio Free Europe and provided RFE Polish Service director Jan Nowak Jeziorański with information about the Catholic Church in Poland. RFE had more airtime, more hard-hitting programs and a much larger audience in Poland in the 1970s than the Voice of America.

John Paul II made his first visit to Poland as pope in 1979. It was covered extensively but remotely by RFE and VOA thanks to radio feeds provided by Vatican Radio. Neither VOA nor RFE was allowed by the Polish communist regime to send a correspondent to Poland. Both stations, however, had live coverage from some of the major events of the pope’s 1979 visit to the United States.

In 1980, after a series of workers’ strikes, the Solidarity (Solidarność) labor union movement was formed under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa. In December 1981, the communist regime of General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to crush Solidarity and its peaceful human rights movement.

Throughout the 1980s, Solidarity activists and the general population relied heavily for uncensored news, information and opinions on Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, BBC and other Western media sources, in addition to maintaining their own extensive underground information network.

In slightly more than ten years after Karol Wojtyła’s election as pope, Poland shook off Soviet domination and the country regained its independence.

Photo: Pope John Paul II speaks after he was honored with the Medal of Freedom in June 2004, presented during his audience for President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. Papież Jan Paweł II przemawia podczas uhoronowania go Medalem Wolności w czerwcu 2004, wydarzenie ma miejsce podczas audiencji prezydenta USA Georga Busha i Laury Bush. Author: Eric Draper.



Listen to excerpt (in Polish) of 1976 Voice of America (VOA ) interview with Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Ted Lipien talked with future Pope John Paul II in Washington, DC.


  1. Gati, Charles, ed. Zbig: The Strategy and Statecraft of Zbigniew Brzezinski. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. 
    In Chapter 10, “Brzezinski, the Pope and the ‘Plot’ to Free Poland,” Patrick Vaughan wrote (p. 126): “Brzezinski considered RFE very useful. In the White House, he had pushed for a vast increase in the transmitter strength of the five-station network broadcasting to the countries of the Eastern Block in their native languages. Brzezinski advised Carter that the radios were an invaluable weapon in the cold war that was as much about ideas as ballistic missiles and fighter jets. He did so despite the fact that in the early 1970s American senators, among others, had dismissed RFE as a ‘cold war relic.’  
    Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, then archbishop of Krakow, was one of the million of Poles who listened to RFE each morning. When, at an event in West Germany many years later, an announcer from the radio’s Polish desk introduced himself to Wojtyla, the cardinal replied ‘There is no need. I recognize your voice. I listen to you every morning as I shave.'”
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Digital Journal, Featured, Highlights, History, Religion, VOA

Op-Ed: A phony John Paul II love story distorted his real persona | Digital Journal

By Ted Lipien Published February 17, 2016 in Digital Journal British newspaper The Telegraph‘s sensationalist headline read: “Did Pope John Paul II fall in love with married American academic? BBC to investigate.” The headline referred to the BBC program “Panorama,” which aired on Monday, February 15, 2015. The program, which is now difficult to view online outside of the UK, was described…

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Cold War, Glos Ameryki, History, Media, Poland, Video, VOA

Tomlinson on Voice of America coverage of Pope John Paul II

Former Voice of America (VOA) director and former Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Ken Tomlinson, who died recently, told Voice of America two years ago that his most memorable moment at VOA was to visit the Polish Service and help arrange extensive news coverage of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Poland when the country was still under communist rule during the Cold War. The Pope’s visit to Poland helped the suppressed Solidarity trade union to intensify its peaceful struggle for democracy and eventually resulted in the fall of communism. Father Stefan Filipowicz, a Chicago-based Jesuit priest and former director of the Polish Service at Vatican Radio, provided religious commentary from a VOA studio in Washington during the coverage of the papal visit. Live audio transmission from Poland was provided to VOA by Vatican Radio.

Ken Tomlinson and his wife Rebecca later traveled to Rome with VOA Polish Service director Ted Lipien to meet Pope John Paul II who thanked the Voice of America for broadcasting news to his countrymen in Poland under communism.

Thanks to Ken Tomlinson’s support, funding from the Reagan administration and full bipartisan backing in the U.S. Congress, the Polish Service became one of the most successful language services in the history of VOA, with over 70% weekly audience reach in Poland in the late 1980s.

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Cold War, Glos Ameryki, International Broadcasting, Photo, Poland, Public Diplomacy, VOA

Interweaving of Public Diplomacy and U.S. International Broadcasting

Interweaving of Public Diplomacy and U.S. International Broadcasting A Historical Analysis by Ted Lipien Published in American Diplomacy, December 2011 Summary U.S. policy makers have used traditional diplomacy, public diplomacy and government-sponsored journalism to promote America’s interests and to influence public opinion abroad. On the journalistic side, the so-called surrogate radios: Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty – more independent…

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Cold War, Glos Ameryki, History, International Broadcasting, Photo, Poland, VOA

Reagan and Korbonski on Yalta and Poland

As Poland prepares for next year’s 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Rising, I wanted to share Stefan Korboński‘s 1984 letter to The New York Times, in which the last chief of the Polish wartime underground State repeated President Ronald Reagan’s earlier statement that the United States rejects any interpretation of the Yalta agreement that suggests American consent for the division of…

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Poland, Religion

Ted Lipien’s book published in Poland, reviewed in Polityka

Ted Lipien’s book about Pope John Paul II and feminism, “Wojtyła’s Women: How They Shaped the Life of Pope John Paul II and Changed the Catholic Church, O-Books, UK, 2008,” was translated into Polish and published in Poland. Adam Szostkiewicz, a reviewer for the Polish news magazine Polityka, wrote that “Lipien is an American journalist with Polish roots who speaks…

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Poland, Public Diplomacy

Beatification of John Paul II was a low priority public diplomacy event for President Obama

TedLipien.com TedLipien.com, Truckee, California, USA, May 01, 2011 — In a public diplomacy blunder likely to offend American Catholics, Polish-American voters and people in Poland, the Obama Administration failed to send a high-ranking American official to the beatification ceremonies for Pope John Paul II, which were held today at the Vatican. Many other religious and ethnic groups in America are also likely to be disturbed by the failure of President Obama to attend the ceremony himself or to send a special delegation headed by Vice President Biden. The White House could have also dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or prominent members of the U.S. Congress from both political parties. The United States was represented at the ceremony only by Miguel Diaz, the ambassador to the Vatican. This is considered the lowest level of representation at an important event of this kind. King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium led the list of royalty present and 16 heads of state and several prime ministers attended, including Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

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International Broadcasting, Poland, Public Diplomacy, Russia

U.S. Embassies in Central and Eastern Europe Ignore 100 Anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s Birthday

TedLipien.com TedLipien.com, Truckee, CA, February 08, 2011 — One would think that the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birthday could be a perfect public diplomacy theme for all U.S. embassies in Central and Eastern Europe — a great opportunity for embassy-sponsored events to strengthen ties with America among diverse nations that owe their current independence and freedom in large part to President Reagan’s vision combined with his steadfastness in standing up to the “Evil Empire.” And yet, both highly-trained and highly-paid U.S. diplomats working in the countries of the former Soviet Block by and large completely ignored the anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. Only two diplomatic post out of more than a dozen in the region sponsored a public event designed to remind older and younger generations of East Europeans of Ronald Reagan’s contribution to freeing them from Soviet domination.

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