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Archive of October 18, 2008

John Paul II’s secretary reveals what happened the day of his election

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow has revealed what happened on October 16, 1978, when John Paul II was elected Pope. When “Cardinal Pericle Felici pronounced the name Carolum in Latin, I realized that the unthinkable was about to happen.”

 

In an article published by the L’Osservatore Romano, reporter Giampaolo Mattei explained that Cardinal Dziwisz was also in St. Peter’s Square on that day and that when Cardinal Felici “later said, ‘Wojtyla,’ I shouted with joy before I became petrified because I was not with my bishop who had become Pope.”

 

After commenting that a number of people in St. Peter’s Square thought the new Pope was African because of the foreign-sounding last name, Cardinal Dziwisz pointed out that the protocol requires that before speaking, the new Pontiff should bestow a blessing in Latin, but the Polish Pope chose to speak first in Italian with a greeting that was historic: ‘I have been called from a faraway land…If I make a mistake, please correct me.”

 

The cardinal also tells how the newly elected Pope wondered, “How will the Romans receive me? What will they say about a Pope from a faraway land? How will they receive a foreign Pope after the most beautiful and important pontificates of the 1900s?” he wondered.

 

Cardinal Dziwisz told Mattei that the Pope confided in him his concern about the how the Romans would receive him since he would be “overcoming the emotion upon appearing for the first time dressed in white.” “He also told me that as soon as he appeared before them he felt sure because he perceived a sentiment of hope in the welcome he received from the people in St. Peter’s Square.”

 

“In summary, between the Polish Pope and Rome it was love at first sight. He was very happy and throughout the years when he remembered his initial concern, he did so in order to feel more ‘Roman from Rome’ than ever,” the cardinal said.

 

That night, he continued, “I did not stay at the Vatican but instead I returned to the Polish College.  I couldn’t sleep.  I spent the entire night listening to the news on the radio about how the election of the Cardinal of Krakow was being received, especially in Poland. I realized that the silent Church was beginning to speak through the mouth of the Pope,” he said.

 

John Paul II “was not carried away by the frenzy,” Cardinal Dziwisz said.  “He ate dinner with the cardinals and later retired to the apartment he was assigned to for the conclave, together with the Secretary of State.  He shared an apartment with Cardinal Corrado Ursi.”

 

That night, Pope John Paul II began writing with his own hand, in Latin, the homily for the next day’s Mass, “in which he would tell the world, ‘Be not afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ’,” he said.  Cardinal Dziwisz revealed that he still conserves the original manuscript of that homily.

 

He also recalled that he was asked to be Cardinal Wojtyla’s personal secretary in 1966. “That day I learned to be close to him. I did so for 39 years, first in Krakow and later in Rome. My clothes were soiled with his blood on May 13, 1981.  And I have again recalled the words he wrote for St. Stanislaw, the patron of Poland: if the word does not convert, blood will.  I was always close to Karol Wojtyla. Me, a priest caressed by a gift and a mystery.”

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Bishop reminds Catholics to remember Judgment Day in the voting booth

St. Louis, Mo., Oct 18, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Robert J. Herman, the administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, has written a column reminding Catholics that their vote will be a decision weighed on the Day of Judgment. He urged Catholics not to treat the unborn as the neglectful rich man treated Lazarus in the biblical parable.

“Judgment Day is on its way,” the bishop wrote in the St. Louis Review. “We cannot stop it. We don’t know when it will come, but just as surely as the sun rises daily, the Son of Man will come when we least expect.”

“For many, this coming election may very well be judgment day, for this election will measure us,” he continued, referencing Christ’s words of judgment in Matthew 10:32-33:

“Everyone who acknowledges Me before others, I will acknowledge before My heavenly Father. But whoever denies Me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Bishop Herman asked the faithful to consider what kind of witness they give to God when they enter the voting booth on Election Day.

“The decision I make in the voting booth will reflect my value system. If I value the good of the economy and my current lifestyle more than I do the right to life itself, then I am in trouble,” the bishop wrote.

He cited Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici, which said outcry on human rights is “false and illusory” if the right to life is not defended to the maximum.

“The right of our children to be protected from destruction is greater than my right to a thriving economy,” Bishop Herman continued.

“My desire for a good economy cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. My desire to end the war in Iraq cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion.”

Bishop Herman looked to the spiritual dimension as well.

“Those 47 million children our nation destroyed are still living. We have destroyed their bodies, but their souls are still alive. When our Lord comes again, they may very well be there to judge us. Even worse, Jesus tells us that whatever we do to the least of our brethren, we do to Him. We would truly shudder if we heard the words, ‘I was in my mother’s womb but you took my life!’

“It is quite possible that we might see these children, but, depending upon the choices we have made, we may very well be separated from them by a great chasm which cannot be crossed, much as the rich man who ignored Lazarus, the poor man, during his lifetime here on earth but was separated from him after death.”

Bishop Herman said the “deepest problem” with many Catholics is that they have become accustomed to rationalizing away a “life of sinful actions” headed in the wrong direction.

“My goal is not to engage you in some political party way but to engage you with our Savior and His teachings. We need to constantly challenge our accustomed behaviors in the light of the Gospel,” he wrote.

He said the issues of the coming election could help people learn about the teachings of the Catholic Church and to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“When we do this, both we and the heavens will be filled with joy!” he asserted.

“Judgment Day is on its way,” he repeated, encouraging people to pray the family Rosary daily between now and Election Day.

In a previous column for the St. Louis Review, Bishop Herman urged Catholics not to put politics ahead of the Fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

“Save our children!” he wrote. “More than anything else, this election is about saving our children or killing our children. This life issue is the overriding issue facing each of us in this coming election. All other issues, including the economy, have to take second place to the issue of life.”

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Vietnamese Catholics respond to Hanoi official’s call for archbishop’s transfer

Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct 18, 2008 (CNA) - The ongoing property dispute between the Catholic Church in Vietnam and government officials has continued with the Chairman of the People’s Committee of Hanoi asserting that the Archbishop of Hanoi must be transferred.

The chairman, who could become Vietnam’s next prime minister, claimed the prelate lacks a “good reputation” and credibility with the faithful. Catholic leaders quickly responded by insisting that the archbishop is “an outstanding leader of the Church in Vietnam.”

Over the past year, Catholic clergy and laity have sought the return of church properties confiscated by communist government officials. Catholic protesters have faced harassment and attacks by government-backed gangs, while an Associated Press reporter was detained and beaten by police when he tried to report on a September demonstration held at the former papal nunciature.

Nguyen The Thao, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Hanoi, on Wednesday met with foreign diplomats to defend the attacks on the Church and to probe their reactions on further potentially extreme actions, J.B. An Dang tells CNA.

Speaking to ambassadors, deputy ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions, Chairman Thao claimed that the main reason behind the property disputes in Hanoi was “a poor awareness of the law amongst the Catholic demonstrators.”

Attacking the Catholic leadership, he added:  “a number of priests, led by Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet, took advantage of parishioners’ beliefs and their own low awareness of the law to instigate unrest, intentionally breaking the law and acting contrary to the interests of both the nation and the Church.”

According to J.B. An Dang, the Saigon Liberated newspaper incorrectly reported that foreign diplomats thanked the chairman for the information and “highly praised” the Committee’s solution for land disputes with the Church.

Father John Nguyen from Hanoi criticized the Saigon Liberated article, saying:

“No one from a civilized society can ‘highly praise’ overt persecutions against peaceful believers. You can be assured that had a diplomat spoken about something in favor of this government’s deeds then surely his name would be on all state media no later than the next day.”

“The obvious question is why, to implement such a good solution, the Vietnamese government had to deploy hundreds of police armed to the teeth, aided by professionally trained dogs; and was prepared to attack anyone who dared to disclose their plot to the outside world, even an American reporter?”

According to the Saigon Liberated, at his meeting with the foreign diplomats Chairman Thao spoke ill of Archbishop of Hanoi Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet.

“Hanoi Archbishop must be transferred out of Hanoi as he has neither a good reputation nor creditability with the city’s citizens, including Catholic faithful,” the chairman reportedly said.

J.B. An Dang reports that the chairman’s statement was a “blatant lie” in the view of Father Pascal Nguyen Ngoc Tinh, a Franciscan from Saigon.

The priest said that for Catholics and many non-Catholics the archbishop is “an outstanding leader of the Church in Vietnam.”

“What is the real reason underneath this extremely begrudging attitude toward the prelate?” he asked.

He suggested the reason for the chairman’s attitude was the archbishop’s comments at a September 20 meeting with the Hanoi People’s Committee. There the archbishop had insisted that religious freedom is a “legal right, not a privilege,” according to the priest.

“In my opinion, the very reason that made the communists jump up crazily, as if they had been electrically shocked, is that the prelate has the nerve to cry out for rights. When I stand up to demand my rights, it means my rights have been taken away. They have been deprived from me,” he concluded.

Father John Nguyen has expressed serious concern that the Archbishop of Hanoi will face more problems from Chairman Thao in the future.

“Thao has been seen as a shining star in Vietnam’s political theatre,” he explained, according to J.B. An Dang’s report to CNA.

“The Politburo has explicitly appreciated his tough attitude and actions against Catholics. Many members of the Party’s Central Committee had no hesitation to throw their full support behind him.

“Recently, there have been rumors that he is going to replace the Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung who has been seen as a poor choice for that post. The fact that he had greeted foreign diplomats confirmed these rumors. In Vietnam’s diplomatic protocol, it’s very unusual for a mayor to meet with foreign diplomats.”

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