In 1967, Karol Wojtyla (the future John Paul II was appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI and served as Archbishop of Krakow. Shortly afterwards, the Cardinal was being interviewed by various members of the press. It was well known that Wojtyla was an avid outdoorsman. He’d often accompany friends and parishioners on their outdoor adventures. Hiking, fishing, camping, skiing… the man enjoyed it all. Much like St. Francis of Assisi, the man worshipped the Creator by taking joy in his creation, as well as by loving and spending quality time with his fellow man.
One of the reporters, thinking that the new cardinal would have to give it all up since climbing the ladder of Church hierarchy asked Wojtyla, “Is it unbecoming of a cardinal to ski?” Without missing a beat Karol responded with a grin,
“It is unbecoming for a cardinal to ski badly.”
Another time, an individual who was challenging the worthiness of Wojtyla’s station commented that none of the Italian cardinals skied. Once again, Wojtyla replied with humor, “That’s funny. In Poland, forty percent of all our cardinals are skiers.” When he was reminded that there were only two Polish cardinals– of which he was one– he quipped with a grin, “In Poland, Wysynski [the other cardinal] counts for sixty percent.”
It’s easy to see why this man was — and is — so beloved by Catholics.