Bay State man recalls his friend, Pope John Paul II
"I had the Pope's phone number at home," said Buczko, 88, a retired probate court judge.
Buczko first met the Pope when he was a bishop in Poland, hosted him at a Boston dinner when he was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, and saw him on several occasions in Rome during his papacy, which ran from 1978 to his death in 2005.
When the Vatican announced the final plans, Boston was the first stop.
"It had to have some impact," he said.The relationship between the two men really began a decade earlier, when then Cardinal Wojtyla paid a two-day visit to Boston. Buczko was among the dignitaries who met him at Logan Airport in 1969 and was the host of a private luncheon at the former Jimmy's Harborside.With the cardinal seated next to the state auditor, the two men chatted in English and Polish."I learned how to say 'lobster' in Polish," Buczko said.
As for sainthood, Buczko said it was a deserving honor for a man who grew up in Nazi-occupied Poland to become a world religious leader while retaining simple virtues.
More than 1 million people are expected in Rome for the canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.
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