John Paul II’s beatification, on the 1st may 2011, was an opportunity to say a bit more about the friendship there was between the Polish pope and Jérôme Lejeune. If it were to be defined in one word, I would say it was based on the fear of God. In the sense where, as Frossard would have nicely put it, “the fear of God is simply the fear of hurting a child.”
John Paul II and Jérôme Lejeune shared a true friendship in which, when one was a victim both suffered. When John Paul II was shot on the 13th May 1981, Jérôme Lejeune was coming home from Rome where he had had lunch with the pope. On arriving in Paris and hearing the news, he collapsed and was taken to hospital. He thus experienced sympathy in its most physical sense. As for the pope, when Jérôme Lejeune was called back to God in the morning of Easter 1994, John Paul II did not hide his emotion. His great attachment, beyond death, for his “brother Jérôme”, was manifested as he prayed on his grave during the 1997 WYD. This remains a unique gesture in the story of his pontificate. Their friendship served truth, lying being for both of them a deadly evil.
John Paul II had his share of ideologies by standing up successively against Nazism and Communism. As for Jérôme Lejeune, he had to fight against scientism and the avid market whose aim was to change human beings into a profitable material for experiments. They both had to repeat in different ways that if man becomes his own measure and starts defining itself according to the latest ideas, he will end up condemning himself. Jérôme Lejeune and John Paul II were men of contradiction. Their honour was to stand firm against the”power of the Institutions.”
John Paul II had given Jérôme Lejeune the tasks of starting the Pontifical Academy for Life. On the eve of his death, Jérôme Lejeune was still suggesting names for the first members. Amongst these names, a French religious, doctor and sister of the Catholic Maternity wards. Why her? Jérôme would answer:” because their maternity wards are the only ones in France, amongst all those defined as catholic, which do not provide an abortion service.” Eleven years later, a few weeks after John Paul II died, Sister Marie Pierre Simon, member of that very same community, was miraculously healed. It was that miracle that allowed John Paul II’s beatification. He who has ears to hear, let him hear…