Monday, April 11, 2005

Pope John Paul II: various articles, extracts and testament

Pope John Paul II
Like a solemn football crowd, his flock came to say farewell
By Gerard Baker
They came by train and on foot in their thousands, with flags and applause for the pilgrim who lit up their world
The Times 9 April 2005

THE pilgrim pope, the itinerant priest from Poland whose resolute faith and unbending insistence on moral and doctrinal orthodoxy moved peoples, challenged modern mores and rattled the foundations of political systems, made one final poignant journey yesterday to his earthly resting place.
Just after 10am on a gusty Roman morning, as a solitary bell tolled joylessly above the façade of St Peter’s Basilica, a simple cypress box marked with a dark cross, held aloft by 12 white-gloved bearers and followed by the crimson-robed princes of the universal Church, emerged from the cavernous gloom of the basilica.
As half a million mourners in St Peter’s Square and beyond caught their first glimpse of the coffin, most of them via the vast television screens that were the only hope of any visual contact with the events, they sent up that familiar Italian acclamation, a steady ripple of applause, like the sudden hammering of a rainstorm on the roofs of Bernini’s colonnades.
It swept up the Via della Conciliazione, echoed around the hundreds of political and religious leaders gathered to honour the dead Pope and radiated around the streets of the ancient city.
It was the moment the faithful who had travelled here had both longed for and dreaded — the signal that this week-long final leavetaking of the man they had loved and revered for a quarter-century was moving towards its climax.
On Thursday night, after the last of those who had arrived early enough had filed past the Pope’s body inside the basilica, the square had been swept clean and readied for the last massive influx.
From the city, the country, from every continent, but above all from Poland, pilgrims in their hundreds of thousands swarmed in. Chanting, wearing scarves, waving flags, the mourners at times looked and sounded like exceptionally well-behaved football supporters. But for them this was a real pilgrimage.
Pope John Paul II was the most-travelled pope in history, estimated to have been seen in person by more people than anyone else on the planet. In a common refrain, many of the mourners said that they were here to reciprocate, to repay some of their debt, in a kind of reverse pilgrimage.
Where the Pope had used every modern means to take his evangelising message to the world, however, many of those who came to Rome, especially from his homeland, did so the old-fashioned way — by train, by bus, by hitching lifts, sleeping rough on the banks of the Tiber. All yesterday morning a swirling wind whipped through St Peter’s Square. High above the famous colonnades, peering down at the historic events among the statues of St Ruffo and St Zosimo and others, some of the luckier faithful with a view thought the wind providential — the sign, after all, of the Holy Spirit.
But it was in mischievous mood, separating cardinals from their mitres, detaching the carefully laid carpet from the steps of the basilica and riffling through the pages of a New Testament laid open on the coffin in front of the altar.
In life, John Paul II was the most politically consequential pope, perhaps for centuries. His defence of the persecuted in his own country and elsewhere helped to bring about the fall of communism in Europe. And he also understood the earthly sway that the leader of a billion Roman Catholic voters can have in democratic countries.
Now, in death, this marriage of the political and the spiritual was as visible as ever.
Around the great altar in front of the basilica from which the traditional funeral rites for a dead pope were said, were ranged the sacred and, some might say, the profane.
Behind the altar, in pride of place, sat 180 or so cardinals on gold-legged chairs, resplendent in their red vestments. On their right were the representatives of the life of the soul: Catholic bishops and archbishops in purple, and leaders of other Christian denominations and other religions — the Orthodox hierarchy, Islam and Judaism.
At the very front sat the Archbishop of Canterbury, marking the first time the senior ordained priest in the Church of England had attended a pope’s funeral. That might have caused a constitutional crisis in Britain not long ago, but it was another sign of the changes wrought by John Paul II that it is now regarded as inoffensive as the idea of postponing a royal wedding so that the heir to the British Crown could attend the Bishop of Rome’s obsequies
And there, on the cardinals’ left, clad predominantly in the black civvies of mourning, were the temporal leaders of humanity, come to pay their respects in unprecedented numbers to a Pope whose earthly power and mass appeal they must at times have envied.
Ten monarchs, 57 heads of state, two dozen heads of government and many others.
The arrangement was striking: the Pope’s coffin in front of the great altar, a single candle and crucifix standing sentinel. Behind, cardinals in red. To either side, bishops in purple and politicians in black. It looked a little like a kind of three-way chess set.
But the presence of so many political leaders also suggested that, even from the grave, John Paul II had been able to do what no statesman had — summon to the same location President Bush and Iranian President Khatami; Tony Blair and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. It was surely a sign of the times that Mr Bush could be seen kneeling alongside President Chirac of France.
Though their minds were presumably fixed on the soul of the dead Pope, none of the cardinals concelebrating the Mass could have been blamed for noting that in the next few weeks, from among their number, one will be chosen to succeed John Paul II.
What direction the Church will take is unclear, but that did not stop Vatican observers looking for clues in the ceremony.
John Paul II was eulogised by the German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a flinty-faced defender of the late Pope’s doctrinal and moral orthodoxy, of whom it has been noted that he may be more Catholic than the Pope.
But there was nothing to suggest that Cardinal Ratzinger was campaigning for the job. Instead he gave a quiet and thoughtful homily that recalled the late Pope’s humanity and willingness to submit himself to God’s will.
There were, however, other reminders, of some of John Paul’s more controversial actions.
One of the concelebrants was Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Archbishop of Boston. Cardinal Law resigned two years ago after he was accused of failing to remove priests in his diocese accused of sexual abuse of minors.
But the more powerful symbolism was surely St Peter’s itself. The Pope’s coffin lay in sight of the places that recall John Paul II’s extraordinary pontificate.
High above was the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, from which white smoke heralded his election 26 years ago.
Behind was the great balcony of the basilica, where he was introduced to the world as the stranger from Poland shortly afterwards.
Just across the square was the spot where an assassin’s bullet almost ended his life in 1981. And above were the windows of his papal apartment, now shuttered in mourning, from which he would bless the faithful most Sundays and which, last weekend, the world watched in a final, tearful vigil.
Cardinal Ratzinger recalled that it was at that window, too, that the world had last seen him alive: "None of us can forget how in that last Easter Day of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Place . . . We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees and blesses us."
John Paul II understood as well as any of the politicians gathered to mourn him the simple power of the image. And if it was not his own idea, he would certainly have approved of the way the funeral ended.
At the end of the Mass, as the choir sang "May the angels lead you into paradise; May the martyrs welcome you", his coffin was carried back up the steps of the church towards the great bronze doors. But instead of processing straight into the basilica, the bearers stopped, turned and tilted the coffin so that it faced away out towards the flood of humanity.
It was as if the pontiff was extending one last papal blessing to his flock in the city and the world. With one more turn, he was carried towards the great crypt to rest among the saints.
One last thing even this Pope could not have orchestrated. As the coffin disappeared into the gloom of the basilica, the wind that had buffeted the ceremonies all day suddenly dropped to a breath and half a million people found themselves bathed in a bright, warming sunlight.

Blessed or Cursed?
by Krzysztof Burnetko and Jaroslaw Makowski
Transitions on line 6 April 2005
What comes after a great pope? A great test for Poland’s Catholic Church.

Though John Paul II was the pope of a catholic church, one embracing up to a billion people, in Poland he was usually called "our pope." He was a national symbol, a man who had become almost an icon. He made Poland recognizable not just to professors in the Sorbonne, but also to farmers in Montana and even to some Africans and Asians without television or the Catholic faith. We cannot be surprised, then, that Poland is a nation plunged in sorrow, united in prayers for and remembrance of the dead pope.Yet when the mourning period is over, this pope may become not just a source of pride for the Church, but also a cause of arguments and divisions. In this sense, the death of John Paul II will inevitably change the local church. But other changes, changes that are today difficult to foresee, may prove truly dramatic.Indeed, without Pope John Paul II, Poland’s Catholic Church resembles an unpinned grenade, ready to explode unless the Polish Church’s hierarchy and its clergy treat it with due caution. For Catholicism as it is practiced along the River Vistula, this test could prove an ordeal.

The Polish Church has obviously proven in the past that – in recent decades, thanks largely to the Pope – it is able to overcome historic problems, and emerge largely unscathed.So it was when the Church had to oppose the communist dictatorship. The election of Karol Wojtyla in 1978 strengthened this resistance. His election gave new meaning to the fight with the "evil empire." As we can now read from archives of the communist party and the secret services, communist dignitaries shook with fear because of their compatriot in Vatican. They considered him to be the major risk to their comfortable status quo. And they were not mistaken. Every speech made by John Paul II, above all those he made in his "pilgrimages" to Poland, proved to be a new driving force behind the movement for liberation.This opposition to the communist system created a feeling of unity. A Catholic nation had a common, clearly defined enemy. And so the Catholic Church in Poland became a wall, a wall without cracks. When communism was consigned to the dustbin of history in 1989, it immediately became obvious that the cracks had merely been papered over and that the unity of the Church was superficial. The Church considered itself a moral victor and, being so, it began to claim privileges. Some Catholics saw an opportunity to create a religious state; others believed that would be a huge mistake. The first group insisted that the Church should have a major impact on the state’s institutions; the latter spoke up for autonomy and civil rights for everybody, non-Catholics included.One of the most important analysts of Poland’s post-communist transformation, Jozef Tischner, a priest and professor, wrote that the Polish Church proved able to defeat communism, but could not deal successfully with the "gift of freedom."The divisions were not new, but had merely been moderated by the notion of a common struggle against the communists. Now, the faultlines – described sometimes as a division between "closed church," a clergy and the faithful with the same mentality, and the "open church" – were revealed and made plain to see.The voice of John Paul II was invaluable in these disputes. He reminded the Polish Church that, as it set about building a democratic state, it must respect the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, a three-year gathering between 1963 and 1965 at which the Church’s leading figures re-evaluated Catholic doctrine. First and foremost John Paul II reminded everybody of the importance of the Gaudium et Spes, a work that resulted from the council and defined the Church’s role in the modern world. It states clearly and strongly the need for a separation of Church and State. The Pope was convinced that to advocate the Gospels nothing more is needed than freedom. And freedom is guaranteed in democratic systems. He himself was sometimes critical about contemporary democracy, above all in Polish disputes about abortion and the place of the Church in public life. For him, "a democracy without values changes into open or camouflaged totalitarianism." But he domesticated Polish Catholicism to the notion of democracy. Without his involvement, the process would undoubtedly have taken longer. The Pope’s influence was also crucial in ending the Polish Church’s indecisiveness about whether to support Poland’s integration into the European Union. Many of the faithful made a final decision only after the Vatican had made its approval heard. For Poles, then, John Paul was a point of reference in religious and political matters.

What now, without that point of reference? So far, the papal influence has appeared to be a genuine blessing for the Church in Poland, above all when the pope helped to settle local disputes. But soon his influence may prove problematic on at least two levels.First, it is possible that self-appointed interpreters of the late pope’s teachings may emerge. His teachings are ambiguous enough for them to be used to win influence of a political nature – mostly by the ultraconservative and extreme nationalist Catholics gathered over Radio Maryja, a radio station that is popular mostly among the old, the less-educated and the badly off. Though run by an order of missionary priests, the Redemptorists, many of its programs are of an explicitly political character, criticizing the changes introduced in Poland since 1989 and promoting the notion of a "bad West." It is a station that does not shy away from using anti-Semitic language and spinning conspiracy theories. Three weeks ago, this group of the faithful announced its intention to create a formalized social movement that will participate in parliamentary elections due, at the latest, in September. It is clear that they will base their movement on the parish structure, using both the logistical support provided by offers to use church premises and the psychological support provided by local priests. Until now, the chief brake on the advance of Radio Maryja and its followers, who include some bishops, was Pope John Paul II. Now that brake no longer exists. This strand of Polish Catholicism now feels that its time has finally come.Second, it cannot be ruled out that some Polish Catholics – both among the laity and the clergy – will feel the temptation to consider John Paul II’s teachings as the absolute point of reference for his successor in Rome. If the direction of changes in the Church under the new leadership appears to contradict the teachings and strategy applied by John Paul the Great (as most of Poland’s media have started to call the dead pope), there may be signs of disobedience. Some could begin to say that the new pope is not "our pope."In other words, without the Polish pope the Polish Church will be forced to pass a difficult exam. It will be a test of the maturity of its faith and its faithfulness to the universal Church.

Extracts from Editorials:

Boston Globe 3 April 2005

While hewing to the decisions of Vatican II, John Paul was uncomfortable with the decentralization fostered by the council. He discouraged decision-making by national conferences of bishops, notably by insisting on changes in a US bishops' paper on the status of women. Rather than accept these, the US bishops rejected the document in 1992.
Although John Paul named women to advisory committees, they never gained significant power. His attitude toward them remained rooted in the past. His approach to sexuality changed little from his days as a bishop, when he rejected birth control within marriage except for periodic abstinence.
Unlike his predecessors, most of whom stayed close to the Vatican, Pope John Paul II bestrode the world, with a message of Christian optimism tempered by traditional rigor. His successor will face a formidable challenge to blend John Paul's masterful presence with more flexible policies.

Daily Telegraph 4 April 2005

The Wojtyla pontificate leaves a prodigious legacy of doctrine: on social and economic philosophy, on birth and death, on the entire range of human concerns. A new catechism summarised this rich harvest, but many papal ideas remain to be developed further. Underpinning the entire corpus is a distinctive view of history and eschatology, symbolised by Wojtyla's chosen name, John Paul. He combines the strict morality of Pauline Christianity with the visionary mysticism of Johannine Christianity.
For John Paul II, God's plan embraces the whole of humanity, and the New Testament of Jesus Christ does not abrogate the original covenant with his first chosen people. This is the deepest of many reasons for his historic reconciliation with the Jews. John Paul's recognition of Israel, his apologies for past wrongs and his pilgrimage to the Holy Land healed many of the wounds inflicted by 2,000 years of Christian anti-Judaism, though Mel Gibson's 2003 film The Passion of the Christ (which the Pope was reported to have endorsed with the gnomic utterance: "It is as it was") was a reminder of how fragile the Judaeo-Catholic reconciliation remains.
He leaves Catholicism in better shape than anybody expected when he ascended the throne of St Peter, more than a generation ago. By the end of his pontificate, there were some 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, far more than ever before. In his last years, overshadowed by illness, John Paul II was unable to solve all the problems of the Church, let alone the world. But he demonstrated beyond doubt that Catholic Christianity is still vigorous, a faith with a future.
And he did so, not by compromising or diluting its core beliefs, but by reasserting them as a "sign of contradiction". In his old age, enfeebled by disease and racked by pain, this most philosophical of popes slowly transformed himself into a martyr, bearing witness to Christ even on his deathbed. He leaves unfinished business for his successor, who may have to make even bolder decisions than he did. But this Pope is not merely a hard act to follow: in the entire annals of the Church, it is hard to find a more formidable, a more memorable or a more lovable figure.

Economist 7 April 2005

The church Pope John Paul treasured and promoted was essentially the one he had known in Poland. He was born in 1920 in the town of Wadowice to a mother who died young and a father who first sowed the idea of priesthood in him, making him study in a cold room to improve his concentration. He began his priestly training, in 1942, in an underground seminary kept secret from the Nazis; after his ordination, in 1946, he worked in a church that was a brave alternative to atheistic secular power. Priests were heroes, and the ordinary people, making acts of political defiance as much as faith, went to Mass, communion and confession with a frequency already dying out in western countries. Some of Pope John Paul's most admirable acts were speeches made to oppressed peoples, within earshot of their leaders, appealing to them to treasure their human rights and agitate to be free. He did this in Chile, Cuba and the Philippines, as well as in communist Poland.
This was also a pope who could spring surprises. He was good at ecumenism, visiting both synagogues and mosques. As a Pole from a town once full of Jews, he felt a special obligation to respect them, and was the first pope to push a folded prayer-note between the stones of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. In 2000, startlingly, he read out a long apology for the church's bad behaviour over the centuries. Some noted that it was church members, not the church itself, for whom he apologised. Nonetheless, it was a rare marvel that a man so certain of the church's possession of the truth should criticise those who had believed it with equal fervour, but had taken things a bit too far.
The most frequent surprise, however, was the strength of spirit—of soul, he would say—that kept him going. He carried on largely in order to display, to a cynical world, the power of God at work in him and the needlessness of the fear of death. Now that he has been called back to source, his bruised and worried church feels, more than anything, the lack of his confidence.

Gazeta 2 April 2005

Poznał osobiście dwa najstraszniejsze demony XX w.: totalitaryzm nazistowski i totalitaryzm komunistyczny. Cienie Auschwitz i Kołymy towarzyszyły nieprzerwanie jego nauczaniu. Dlatego rozumiał grozę dyktatur i tę intymną więź łączącą kłamstwo z przemocą. W epoce etnicznych i religijnych wojen i nienawiści głosił potrzebę pojednania i przebaczenia; wciąż uporczywie przekazywał swój znak pokoju.Dla nas, ludzi zakorzenionych w tradycji opozycji demokratycznej, Komitetu Obrony Robotników i "Solidarności", był Jan Paweł II jasną pochodnią prawdy i wolności w mroku hipokryzji, konformizmu i strachu. Powiedział do nas: "nie lękajcie się!" - i w ten sposób skierował tysiące ludzi ku trudnej sztuce godnego życia.Jesteśmy dziś smutni; czujemy się osieroceni. Największy autorytet Polaków nigdy już nie zwróci się do nas ze słowami pocieszenia czy pouczenia. Ale zarazem, dziękujemy przecież losowi, że pojawił się w naszym życiu ten niezwykły namiestnik Chrystusa, który uczynił tyle dobra.

Guardian: 4 April 2005

Alongside the social teaching, John Paul II sought to invigorate the spiritual traditions of the church. From his desk flowed a remarkable range of writing - poetry, meditations and encyclicals expressing his vision of the gospel and traditions such as the eucharist which were central to his faith. The sincerity and power of his own belief was evident at every point in his long life, and sustained him through evident physical suffering. His recovery from the assassination attempt in 1981 left him with recurrent physical ailments, compounded by his Parkinson's and his slow physical decline. Refusing to succumb to his frailty, his very public death as he stumbled through prayers and blessings of his final months, was part of the message he sought to convey to the world: the inescapability of suffering and its acceptance in human existence as part of God's greater purpose for redemption. It was a stark message which perhaps perplexed as many as it inspired.
Such mixed interpretations of John Paul II make him one of the most complex and paradoxical figures of his era: he humanised and modernised his office, but not his church. His uncompromising teaching contributed to the decimation of the church in its European heartland, but also to its extraordinary continuing vitality in the developing world.
New York Times 3 April 2005
The pope's concern for human dignity led him to criticize capitalism as strongly as Communism, and he used his pulpit to condemn Western materialism as a "culture of death." He improved the church's relations with Jews and Muslims. At the dawn of the third millennium, he delivered a solemn apology for errors of the church, including religious intolerance and injustice toward women and the poor. Under his direction, the church denounced anti-Semitism, although it did not criticize Pope Pius XII for his equivocal response to the Holocaust.
For non-Catholics around the globe, those are the visions of John Paul that may endure longest - the globe-trotting man of God who traversed the world over and over, speaking about the dignity of life in so many languages. For Catholics, he was a more complicated figure, one who resisted all attempts to liberalize the church's teachings on birth control, abortion, homosexuality, priestly marriage, divorce and the ordination of women. This champion of freedom brooked no dissent, and his travels sought not only to minister to the faithful but also to make the church more disciplined, hierarchical and orthodox. Later, as his health deteriorated, he turned much of the responsibility for church affairs over to subordinates who lacked his authority and moral stature. That problem became painfully obvious during the crisis over sexual-predator priests toward the end of the pope's tenure.
For all his worldwide evangelism, John Paul left behind a church with a dwindling number of priests and nuns and a shrinking percentage of the world's population; Islam has overtaken Catholicism as the globe's most popular religion. The pope always believed that human values, not numbers, were what mattered. His embrace of each person's innate dignity was his touchstone, allowing him to shape our times even as he railed against them.

Rzeczpospolita 4 April 2004

Jan Paweł II był z nami, gdy budziliśmy się do solidarności i wolności, a także wówczas, kiedy usiłowano nas na powrót zamknąć w obozie komunizmu. Był z nami również wtedy, gdy tę wolność i własne, niepodległe państwo na trwałe odzyskaliśmy. Co zrobiliście z waszą wolnością? - pytał nas później tonem Ojca zaniepokojonego przyszłością swoich dzieci. Czy jego słowa przestrzegające przed prymatem "mieć" nad "być" przyjmowaliśmy z wystarczającą uwagą?
Czy traktowaliśmy poważnie radykalne papieskie wezwanie do budowy cywilizacji miłości tu i teraz? Jan Paweł II stawiał sobie i nam bardzo wysokie wymagania, bo głęboko wierzył w człowieka. Własnym życiem najlepiej pokazał, ile może zdziałać jednostka obdarzona wielką pracowitością i wolą wypełnienia swego posłannictwa. Kluczowe hasło tej misji papież wypowiedział już w pierwszych dniach swego pontyfikatu: - Nie lękajcie się! Otwórzcie drzwi Chrystusowi! -wołał do ludzi zgromadzonych na placu św. Piotra podczas inauguracji. W ostatnim dniu pontyfikatu nie mógł już mówić, ale przecież wciąż wzywał do tej samej odwagi i ufności, przyjmując ze spokojem perspektywę śmierci - "gasnąc pogodnie". To już ostatnia homilia, jaką do nas wygłosił. Żegnaj, Ojcze.

Sunday Times 3 April 2005

John Paul II’s reign as pope began when both God and mammon appeared to be in retreat in the West, moral decline coinciding with economic failure. Its end comes at a time of a moral and economic revival in America. President Bush was re-elected at least in part on a moral ticket. Sex scandals amongst its clergy has meant the Church has not profited from it. A bigger danger of drift is in Europe, where economic stagnation and high unemployment threaten religious and racial intolerance.
The Pope tried, but failed, to get Europe’s leaders to embody the continent’s Christian tradition in the proposed EU constitution.
The moral pendulum may be swinging from the permissiveness of the 1970s, when even a youngish John Paul stood out as a conservative. On abortion and marriage, if not contraception and the status of women and minorities, his views as he approached the end of his life no longer seemed so outmoded. Matters of life and death, whether they be the debate about prolonging the life of Terri Schiavo in America or reducing the legal limit for abortions in Britain, have made their way to the top of the agenda.
That does not mean, however, that the Catholic church has arrived at a position that is sustainable in the 21st century, or that John Paul II’s conservatism has always been a force for good. Under his papacy the Vatican’s attitudes to contraception have forced many Catholics in the West into a position of open hypocrisy, using the very birth-control methods that are frowned upon by Rome. In developing countries the effects can be more pernicious. When poorer Catholics took his words about the use of condoms at face value the effect was inevitably the spread of HIV-Aids. Any reckoning of his contribution has to be balanced by that grim reality.
Will we ever see his like again? A titan like John Paul II will always be a hard act to follow.
The candidates being lined up to replace him are mainly already in their seventies. There is a desire among the cardinals, it appears, not to have another long-serving pope. There should be a desire to have one who reaches out as effectively, urbi et orbi, to the city and the world.

Pope John Paul II's last testament: text in full

Text of the spiritual testament of John Paul II, released originally in Polish, translated into Italian and then into English by the Vatican

The Times 8 April 2005

The testament of 6.3.1979 (and successive additions)
"Totus Tuus ego sum"
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
"Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (cf. Mt 24, 42) - these words remind me of the last call, which will happen at the moment the Lord wishes. I desire to follow Him, and I desire that everything making up part of my earthly life should prepare me for this moment. I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too in the hands of the Mother of my Master: Totus Tuus. In the same maternal Hands I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and vocation have linked me. In these Hands I leave, above all, the Church, as well as my Nation and all humanity. I thank everyone. Of everyone I ask forgiveness. I also ask for prayer, that the Mercy of God may appear greater than my weakness and unworthiness.
During the spiritual exercises I re-read the testament of the Holy Father Paul VI. That reading prompted me to write this testament.
I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. As for the everyday objects that were of use to me, I ask they be distributed as seems appropriate. My personal notes are to be burned. I ask that this be attended to by Fr. Stanislaw, whom I thank for his collaboration and help, so prolonged over the years and so understanding. As for all other thanks, I leave them in my heart before God Himself, because it is difficult to express them.
As for the funeral, I repeat the same dispositions as were given by the Holy Father Paul VI. (Here is a note in the margin: burial in the bare earth, not in a sarcophagus, 13.3.92).
"apud Dominum misericordiaet copiosa apud Eum redemptio"
John Paul pp. II
Rome, 6.III.1979After my death I ask for Masses and prayers.5.III.1990
Undated sheet of paper
I express my profound trust that, despite all my weakness, the Lord will grant me all the grace necessary to face according to His will any task, trial or suffering that He will ask of His servant, in the course of his life. I also trust that He will never allow me - through some attitude of mine: words, deeds or omissions - to betray my obligations in this holy Petrine See.
24.II - 1.III.1980
Also during these spiritual exercises, I have reflected on the truth of the Priesthood of Christ in the perspective of that Transit that for each of us is the moment of our own death. For us the Resurrection of Christ is an eloquent (added above: decisive) sign of departing from this world - to be born in the next, in the future world.
I have read, then, the copy of my testament from last year, also written during the spiritual exercises - I compared it with the testament of my great predecessor and Father, Paul VI, with that sublime witness to death of a Christian and a Pope - and I have renewed within me an awareness of the questions to which the copy of 6.III.1979 refers, prepared by me (in a somewhat provisional way).
Today I wish to add only this: that each of us must bear in mind the prospect of death. And must be ready to present himself before the Lord and Judge - Who is at the same time Redeemer and Father. I too continually take this into consideration, entrusting that decisive moment to the Mother of Christ and of the Church - to the Mother of my hope.
The times in which we live are unutterably difficult and disturbed. The path of the Church has also become difficult and tense, a characteristic trial of these times - both for the Faithful and for Pastors. In some Countries (as, for example, in those about which I read during the spiritual exercises), the Church is undergoing a period of such persecution as to be in no way lesser than that of early centuries, indeed it surpasses them in its degree of cruelty and hatred. "Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum.". And apart from this - many people die innocently even in this Country in which we are living.
Once again, I wish to entrust myself totally to the Lord's grace. He Himself will decide when and how I must end my earthly life and pastoral ministry. In life and in death, Totus Tuus in Mary Immaculate. Accepting that death, even now, I hope that Christ will give me the grace for the final passage, in other words (my) Easter. I also hope that He makes (that death) useful for this more important cause that I seek to serve: the salvation of men and women, the safeguarding of the human family and, in that, of all nations and all peoples (among them, I particularly address my earthly Homeland), and useful for the people with whom He particularly entrusted me, for the question of the Church, for the glory of God Himself.
I do not wish to add anything to what I wrote a year ago - only to express this readiness and, at the same time, this trust, to which the current spiritual exercises have again disposed me.
John Paul II
Totus Tuus ego sum
In the course of this year's spiritual exercises I have read (a number of times) the text of the testament of 6.III.1979. Although I still consider it provisional (not definitive), I leave it in the form in which it exists. I change nothing (for now), and neither do I add anything, as concerns the dispositions contained therein.
The attempt upon my life on 13.V.1981 in some way confirmed the accuracy of the words written during the period of the spiritual exercises of 1980 (24.II - 1.III).
All the more deeply I now feel that I am totally in the Hands of God - and I remain continually at the disposal of my Lord, entrusting myself to Him in His Immaculate Mother (Totus Tuus)
John Paul pp.II
In connection with the last sentence in my testament of 6.III.1979 ("concerning the site / that is, the site of the funeral / let the College of Cardinals and Compatriots decide") - I will make it clear that I have in mind: the metropolitan of Krakow or the General Council of the Episcopate of Poland - In the meantime I ask the College of Cardinals to satisfy, as far as possible, any demands of the above-mentioned.
1.III.1985 (during the spiritual exercises)Again - as regards the expression "College of Cardinals and Compatriots": the "College of Cardinals" has no obligation to consult "Compatriots" on this subject, however it can do so, if for some reason it feels it is right to do so.
Spiritual exercise of the Jubilee Year 2000 (12-18.III)(for my testament)
1. When, on October 16, 1978 the conclave of cardinals chose John Paul II, the primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski told me: "The duty of the new Pope will be to introduce the Church into the Third Millennium." I don't know if I am repeating this sentence exactly, but at least this was the sense of what I heard at the time. This was said by the Man who entered history as the primate of the Millennium. A great primate. I was a witness to his mission, to his total entrustment. To his battles. To his victory. "Victory, when it comes, will be a victory through Mary" - The primate of the Millennium used to repeat these words of his predecessor, Cardinal August Hlond.
In this way I was prepared in some manner for the duty that presented itself to me on October 16, 1978. As I write these words, the Jubilee Year 2000 is already a reality. The night of December 24, 1999 the symbolic Door of the Great Jubilee in the Basilica of St. Peter's was opened, then that of St. John Lateran, then St. Mary Major - on New Year's, and on January 19 the Door of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. This last event, given its ecumenical character, has remained impressed in my memory in a special way.
2. As the Jubilee Year progressed, day by day the 20th century closes behind us and the 21st century opens. According to the plans of Divine Providence I was allowed to live in the difficult century that is retreating into the past, and now, in the year in which my life reaches 80 years ('octogesima adveniens'), it is time to ask oneself if it is not the time to repeat with the biblical Simeone 'nunc dimittis'.
On May 13, 1981, the day of the attack on the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Divine Providence saved me in a miraculous way from death. The One Who is the Only Lord of life and death Himself prolonged my life, in a certain way He gave it to me again. From that moment it belonged to Him even more. I hope He will help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service to which I was called on October 16, 1978. I ask him to call me back when He Himself wishes. 'In life and in death we belong to the Lord ... we are the Lord's. (cf. Rm 14,8). I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfil the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service.
3. As I do every year during spiritual exercises I read my testament from 6-III-1979. I continue to maintain the dispositions contained in this text. What then, and even during successive spiritual exercises, has been added constitutes a reflection of the difficult and tense general situation which marked the Eighties. From autumn of the year 1989 this situation changed. The last decade of the century was free of the previous tensions; that does not mean that it did not bring with it new problems and difficulties. In a special way may Divine Providence be praised for this, that the period of the so-called 'cold war' ended without violent nuclear conflict, the danger of which weighed on the world in the preceding period.
4. Being on the threshold of the third millennium "in medio Ecclesiae" I wish once again to express gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of Vatican Council II, to which, together with the entire Church - and above all the entire episcopacy - I feel indebted. I am convinced that for a long time to come the new generations will draw upon the riches that this Council of the 20th century gave us. As a bishop who participated in this conciliar event from the first to the last day, I wish to entrust this great patrimony to all those who are and who will be called in the future to realize it. For my part I thank the eternal Pastor Who allowed me to serve this very great cause during the course of all the years of my pontificate.
"In medio Ecclesiae".... from the first years of my service as a bishop - precisely thanks to the Council - I was able to experience the fraternal communion of the Episcopacy. As a priest of the archdiocese of Krakow I experienced the fraternal communion among priests - and the Council opened a new dimension to this experience.
5. How many people should I list! Probably the Lord God has called to Himself the majority of them - as to those who are still on this side, may the words of this testament recall them, everyone and everywhere, wherever they are.
During the more than 20 years that I am fulfilling the Petrine service "in medio Ecclesiae" I have experienced the benevolence and even more the fecund collaboration of so many cardinals, archbishops and bishops, so many priests, so many consecrated persons - brothers and sisters - and, lastly, so very, very many lay persons, within the Curia, in the vicariate of the diocese of Rome, as well as outside these milieux.
How can I not embrace with grateful memory all the bishops of the world whom I have met in "ad limina Apostolorum" visits! How can I not recall so many non-Catholic Christian brothers! And the rabbi of Rome and so many representatives of non -Christian religions! And how many representatives of the world of culture, science, politics, and of the means of social communication!
6. As the end of my life approaches I return with my memory to the beginning, to my parents, to my brother, to the sister (I never knew because she died before my birth), to the parish in Wadowice, where I was baptized, to that city I love, to my peers, friends from elementary school, high school and the university, up to the time of the occupation when I was a worker, and then in the parish of Niegowic, then St. Florian's in Krakow, to the pastoral ministry of academics, to the milieu all Krakow and to the people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.
To all I want to say just one thing: "May God reward you."
"In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum."A.D.17.III.2000


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