He is little known in Italy, with many local media failing to register his presence in St. Peter’s Square. He is Mr Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe: an old-style African Chief of State, a dictator not very concerned with human rights. He was banned from entering EU territory, but this time technically he was a guest of the Holy See, so pursuant to the Lateran Pacts and the Concordat Italy had to let him pass.
He personally met Pope Francis who, together with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, was there to canonize Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. The former is sometimes criticized over his relationship with another dictator, Chilean President general Augusto Pinochet.
Pope John Paul II was a Polish Cardinal before being elected. He was considered instrumental in fighting communist in the Eastern Bloc and in Latin America, where he contrasted the leftist “theology of liberation” adopted by a part of the Catholic clergy. In this he was assisted by the then Prefect of Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the heir of the Holy Office), Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict XVI.