On 13 May 1981 an attempt was made to kill Pope John Paul II.
At 4:17pm an attempt was made on the Pope's life in the Vatican. The announcement was made on
Vatican Radio. The Pope was taken to hospital by ambulance accompanied by Monsignor Martinez.
Father Joe Dunn of the Radharc documentary unit was in Rome when the attack took place. He speaks to reporter Gerald Barry by telephone with an update on what happened. He describes the Pope's condition as
Less grave than they first thought
Father Dunn describes how the Pope was shot by a young man aged about 30 while greeting some
children. Two women were also caught in the fire. When the Pope was hit he fell into his secretary's
Nobody is quite sure how many shots but three, four or five shots were fired and two of them hit the Pope
According to Father Dunn, the President, Prime Minister and Secretary of State are all at the hospital where they await news of the Pontiff's fate. Fr Dunn had earlier that day been filming in the same spot near Saint Peter's Square where the incident happened.
Peter Hebblethwaite, religious writer and historian, who is also in Rome describes what happened to the man who was arrested following the shooting. There is also a rumour that a second man was involved but the motive for the attack is still unknown. Hebblethwaite says that previous Popes were assassinated by poison but a shooting is unprecedented.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 13 May 1981.