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10 Dramatic Acts of Human Kindness


5
Pope John Paul II Forgave His Would-be Assassin
Pope John Paul II meeting with Mehmet Ali Agca at Rebibbia prison in Rome on December 27, 1983. ©ARTURO MARI/AFP/Getty Images
Pope John Paul II meeting with Mehmet Ali Agca at Rebibbia prison in Rome on December 27, 1983. ©ARTURO MARI/AFP/Getty Images

A Turkish assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, fired three bullets at Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on May 13, 1981. One bullet bounced off the Pope's index finger and entered his abdomen. Another shaved his right elbow. Later, John Paul would say he survived only through the divine intervention of the Virgin Mary.

On May 17, 1981, just four days after the assassination attempt, the pope publicly forgave Agca -- stating he'd forgiven him while in the ambulance during transport to the Gemelli hospital -- and in 1983 visited Agca as he served a 19-year prison sentence. During that visit John Paul held Agca's hand and forgave his would-be assassin face-to-face.


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