Wanda Półtawska (1921-2023)

A Pro-Life Leader


By Professor Roberto de Mattei

Wanda Półtawska. one of the leading pro-life figures of the 20th century and a close collaborator of John Paul II, died in Krakow at the age of 102 on October 25, 2023. Wanda Półtawska was born in Lublin on November 2, 1921. After the German invasion of Poland, because of her involvement in the resistance, she was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Lublin Castle. After being interrogated and tortured, she was deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp on November 21, 1941, where she was subjected to surgical experiments carried out by Karl Gebhardt, Himmler’s personal physician later sentenced to death as a war criminal. She miraculously survived and, after liberation, participated in the work of the Commission of Inquiry into Nazi crimes in Poland. The nightmare of those days lives again in his book And I’m Afraid of My Dreams. My Days in the Ravensbrück Lager published in several languages (Edizioni San Paolo, Rome 2010)

After the war she was a close collaborator of Karol Wojtyla, working in marriage and family counseling, with a particular focus on the impact of abortion on the female psyche and the impact of contraceptive attitudes on marriage and family cohabitation. From 1955 to 1997 he taught pastoral medicine at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow (now the Pontifical John Paul II University), and in 1967 he organized the Institute of Family Theology at this university, which he directed for 33 years, training young couples, engaged couples and priests.

On October 16, 1978, Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope with the name John Paul II. After a few months, I met Wanda Półtawska, who told me that she had been miraculously healed of intestinal cancer through the prayers of Padre Pio, to whom Karol Wojtyla, auxiliary bishop of Krakow, knowing that her friend was in a desperate condition, had written in 1962 so that “God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, would show his mercy to her and her family.”

With her and her husband the philosopher Andrzej Półtawski (1923-2020), a professor by whom she had four daughters, I had a close friendship for many years, which gave me the opportunity to meet John Paul II and the Pope’s young personal secretary, Msgr. Stanislaus Dziwisz.

Thanks to Wanda Półtawska I got to know Archbishop Edouard Gagnon, who was appointed in 1983 president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and created cardinal on May 25, 1985. When, in 1987, together with Marquis Luigi Coda Nunziante, we established the Association Famiglia Domani, we found in him a friend and supporter. Wanda Półtawska shared with Cardinal Gagnon the belief in the existence of a Masonic Mafia in the Vatican, the subject of Fr. Charles T. Murr’s book, Murder In The 33rd Degree, soon to be published in Italy by Fede e Cultura. It was also thanks to Wanda Półtawska’s firsthand intervention with Pope John Paul II that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception, now dispersed around the world by the Holy See, were founded.

Wanda Półtawska was a woman of deep faith, great culture and intense commitment to the cause of life. In recent years her person came under heavy attack from the liberal media and the abortion movement, especially after the Constitutional Court decision banning eugenic abortion in Poland. Unfortunately, now, with the change of government, it is very likely that there will be a return to the practice of abortion. In fact, the PSL (Demo-Christian-Rural) party, which opposes Gender propaganda and the complete liberalization of abortion up to the 12th week, seems to favor allowing abortion in cases of rape and foreseeable fetal illness. The battle therefore continues, in Poland and around the world, and the figure of Wanda Półtawska, who to the last fought for the defense of life, from conception to natural death, is an example not to be forgotten.