Vatican City, Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A newly published book gathers the memories of 13 journalists and communications specialists about John Paul II, including those of Fr. Giorgio Costantino, spokesman of the Synod of Bishops.
“Giovanni Paolo II, raccontato da chi lo ha ‘raccontato’”, or “John Paul II, as reported by those who ‘reported’ him”, edited by Angela Ambrogetti and Raffaele Iaria and published by Tau Editrice, discusses the 26-year pontificate of Bl. John Paul II, who will be canonized together with John XXIII April 27.
Among the contributors are Emanuele Roncalli, Gian Franco Svidercoschi, and Fr. Costantino, who has been the Synod of Bishops’ representative since 1990.
Fr. Costantino’s chapter shares stories of Bl. John Paul II’s commitment to the synod, which he knew “very well, as he had taken part in each of the assemblies except the first one, in 1967.”
“He had in fact been invited to that assembly,” Fr. Costantino wrote, “but he chose not to take part, out of solidarity with Cardinal Wyszynski, Primate of Poland, whom the (communist) Polish authorities denied a visa to go to Rome.”
This story, he recounted, was told “during a dinner the Pope shared with spokesmen of various languages and the then-director of the Holy See press office, Joaquin Navarro Valls.”
Bl. John Paul II often shared his views during meals, which were an occasion for informal exchanges with those working at the Synod of Bishops.
“At the final lunch of the 1990 Synod of Bishops, John Paul II spoke off the cuff, stressing that he ‘noted an increasing spirituality and maturity. My hopes have not been vain. This tool of the collegiality of bishops is efficient’”, recounted Fr. Costantino.
According to Fr. Costantino, the late Pope held the synod to express apostolic tradition as well as a collegial and primatial structure.
He also related that Bl. John Paul II would lunch with the spokesmen, “asking for information about each Vaticanista. He showed that he knew both their faces and names, and that he read their articles. It was an always-open window to the world.”
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Marriage is indissoluble according to the doctrine of the Church and a Pope’s phone call could not change that, a canon lawyer has explained.
Media speculation arose this week over an alleged phone call made by Pope Francis to a divorced and remarried Argentine woman. It is claimed he told her she could receive Communion.
It is simply “impossible Pope Francis would have changed the doctrine on the indissolubility of the marriage” via a phone call, responded Fr. Hector Franceschi, a professor of canon law and matrimony at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
He told CNA April 24 that he has been astonished by “the number of reports about the story, which are clearly expressions of an agenda to change the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage in view of the next synod of bishops, and to push the Church to change its praxis.”
While some media have made much ado about the alleged conversation, the story is doubtful in its details – Fr. Federico Lombardi, Holy See press officer, noted Thursday that “that which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion.”
“Therefore, consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences.”
Indeed, the Church’s doctrine cannot develop in contradiction to itself.
Fr. Franceschi stressed that “in a speech given to the Roman Rota in 2000, Pope John Paul II stated that the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage is definitive, and not even the Pope himself can change this doctrine.”
Bl. John Paul II had told the tribunal on Jan. 21, 2000 that “it is necessary to reaffirm that a ratified and consummated sacramental marriage can never be dissolved, not even by the power of the Roman Pontiff.”
“The opposite assertion would imply the thesis that there is no absolutely indissoluble marriage, which would be contrary to what the Church has taught and still teaches about the indissolubility of the marital bond,” the Pope continued.
Fr. Franceschi continued his reflection, noting that pastoral care must respond to the particularities of any given situation, adding that “a shepherd can handle with discretion peculiar cases, even while he can never go beyond doctrine.”
“In any case, it is more than clear that a person who is divorced and remarried is not excommunicated, and is not sidelined from the life of the Church.”
He suggested that any phone call from Pope Francis was a matter “not of a change in doctrine, but of pastoral care.”
“It is a way to turn upside down the notion that a sinner cannot attend Holy Mass.”
He noted that in Familiaris Consortio, his 1981 post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the Christian family’s role in the modern world, John Paul II similarly “invited those who live in irregular situations to go to Holy Mass, to ask for help and to beg for Lord’s mercy.”
Fr. Franceschi stressed that “in fact, Pope Francis has not make any official statement as Roman Pontiff. In my view, Pope Francis will not officially address the question until the synod of bishops, and any official statement will be in accordance with the doctrine of the Church.”
Pope Francis has asked for courageous pastoral care in response to the divorced and remarried, yet to be courageous “does not mean to change the doctrine of the Church,” Fr. Franceschi noted.
“To be courageous means to address the pain of the divorced and remarried, supporting them and helping them to put into practice what has been said several times in recent years. That is, do not exclude the divorced and remarried from the life of the Church, when in these days people are surprised if a divorced and remarried person even continues to attend Mass.”
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The great-nephew of Blessed John XXIII revealed the pontiff's Church vision in calling for the Second Vatican Council, noting the great continuity between his ideas and the pontificate of John Paul II.
“John XXIII does not avoid confrontation with the world of his time, although perhaps the real dialectical confrontation with modernity was up to Paul VI,” Marco Roncalli told CNA, “however it is Pope (John XXIII) Roncalli that opens the council and opens wide the windows and the doors of the Vatican.”
“He has a vision of a Church like a garden, not like a museum...like a fountain in the village that offers to quench everyone's thirst,” Roncalli said in an April 22 interview.
“John Paul II takes up this legacy (and) continues to recognize that the council is the compass of our time.”
In addition to being a relative of the soon-to-be saint, Roncalli is the president of the John XXIII Foundation and author of “Giovanni XXIII – Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli: A Life in History.”
He is also the editor of correspondences from 1933-1962 between John XXIII, his secretary Loris Francesco Capovilla, and his close friend Giuseppe De Luca.
Much of John XXIII's pontifical legacy can be seen in the Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II, which he opened in 1962 and was closed in 1965 under Pope Paul VI. Future Popes John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI were also present throughout the council and participated in its discussions.
The council gave particular focus to the Church's relation to the modern world and implemented a number of reforms designed to make the teachings of the Church more understandable without compromising their content.
Roncalli noted the continuity between both John XXIII and John Paul II in their understanding of and commitment to the values espoused by Vatican II.
Even if they had “very different sensibilities,” both pontiffs each believed strongly “in the dignity of the human person, social justice, mercy,” he said.
Roncalli observed that although at first not everyone was a fan of coupling John XXIII's canonization alongside that of John Paul II, he now thinks many believe that if “John Paul is the Great, the other one will not be less.”
Referring to his uncle's immense spiritual life, Roncalli affirmed that the Pope was “a man of faith as strong as a rock, a man who loved even those who opposed him, relying on God,” and “approaching all in the pursuit of what could unite and not divide.”
He was “a man who has always placed the Gospel before any personal affirmation” and “has left us with a public example of holiness” and “repeatedly told us to not be afraid of modern times.”
John XXIII has also “asked us to learn how to read the signs of the times,” he continued, observing that the Pope “explained to us the irrationality of any conflict” and “told us that the lack of unity among Christians is a scandal.”
Of his decision to convene the Second Vatican Council, the pontiff’s great-nephew explained that it came as a result of the saint's intense spiritual life.
“John began right away with a profound reflection on the situation of the Church immediately after his election,” he noted, stating that it was a “conviction already set in his spirit, comforted in prayer, transformed into personal decision and irrevocable, right after recording the positive opinion of the Cardinal Secretary of State, Domenico Tardini.”
It was only after receiving “the certainty that at the root of his idea there was truly a moment of grace” that the pontiff brought up the idea, Roncalli continued.
Quoting something his great-uncle had written about the calling of the council, Roncalli said that “it was not about 'passing fantasy, or spectacular improvisation,' but of 'an inspiration' that obliged him to 'submit himself, as ever, to the will of God.'”
Later on Pope John explained “that the idea of the Council came not 'as the fruit of a prolonged meditation, but as the spontaneous flower of an unexpected spring,'” he noted.
Roncalli recalled that afterwards the pontiff applied to himself “the spiritual rule 'of absolute simplicity to welcome the divine inspirations and a prompt submission to the apostolic demands of the hour.'”
“This is part of his history of holiness – St. John – because in his life he continued to detach himself from himself, to put his ‘I’ under his feet, placing before all the Gospel to all and not concerned about anything but the Gospel.”
“In this way that holiness which is now fully recognized by the Church emerged, to which he aspired every day,” Roncalli noted, highlighting that his “holiness was private as (it was) public. Which Pope Francis has understood.”
“The hermeneutical key to understanding well the figure of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli…is precisely this of the spirituality absorbed by him during his adolescence and then regenerated in the ordinariness of every experience, primarily as a trust in God and in man, his image,” the Pope's great-nephew continued.
Emphasizing that this “spirituality pervades and even ties decisions and writing without limits of public or private spheres,” Roncalli observed that it is also revealed in his “highest exercises of the governance of the Church.”
Pope John kept himself “always with God and with the things of God,” the relative went on, affirming that he was “aware of being a man within a great family which is that of the human race and where fraternity that raises bridges and wishes to demolish barriers, as Christianity demands.”
“Every saint is a success of God,” he reflected, adding that “the power of grace that is almost surpassed by the nature of John XXIII is an appeal to us for continuous renewal, to be shaped by God.”
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In messages to both residents of Poland and Bergamo, Pope Francis conveyed his gratitude for Bl. John Paul II and John XXIII, saying that their holiness continues to inspire the Church today.
“I thank the Polish people and the Church in Poland for the gift of John Paul II,” the Pope said in a video clip addressed to the Church in Poland, adding that “all of us have been enriched by this gift.”
Aired Thursday evening, the pontiff's message was shown on Polish Televesion and Radio, and was sent alongside a letter.
In his opening words to the Polish people, Pope Francis relayed his joy in being able to canonize the two pontiffs this Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday.
“I am grateful to John Paul II, as all the members of the people of God, for his untiring service, his spiritual guidance, and for his extraordinary testimony of holiness.”
“What John Paul II asked all, which is not to be afraid and to open wide the doors to Christ,” he observed, “he did it first,” explaining that “He has opened society, culture, political and economic systems to Christ.”
He reversed “with the strength of a giant – strength that came from God – a tendency that might have seemed irreversible,” the pontiff said. He noted that with his “testimony of faith, of love and apostolic courage, accompanied by a great human charisma,” John Paul II taught the world not to be afraid of being called Christians.
The Bishop of Rome then drew special attention to how before “traveling the streets of the world” the Polish Pope grew in his service to God in Poland, where his heart was formed; a heart that then expanded to a universal dimension.
“John Paul II,” he said, “has done everything for everyone.”
Again thanking Poland for the gift of Bl. John Paul II, Pope Francis emphasized that he continues to inspire the Church today and that “We are inspired by his words, his writings, his gestures, his style of service.”
“He inspires us by his suffering lived with a heroic hope. He inspires us with his total trust in Christ, Redeemer of man, and in the Mother of God.”
Concluding his message, the pontiff made known his anticipation of coming to Poland for the first time for World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016. He also thanked all of the journalists covering the canonization in print, radio and television, because through them many who are not in Rome “will be able to participate in this great event.”
In his message to the diocese of Bergamo, a region in Italy from where Bl. John XXIII hails, Pope Francis affirmed the people that he knows “how much you love Pope John, and how much he loved your land.”
“From the day of his election as pontiff, the name of Bergamo and Sotto il Monte became familiar to the whole world and even today, over 50 years later, they are associated with his smiling face and his paternal tenderness,” he observed.
Extending his invitation for the citizens of Bergamo to thank the Lord “for the great gift that his holiness has been for the universal Church,” the Pope also encouraged them “to cherish the memory of the land in which it germinated.”
“A land of profound faith lived in daily life, of poor families but united in love of the Lord, of a community capable of sharing in simplicity.”
Speaking of the Blessed's calling of the Second Vatican Council in order to address a pastoral response to the presence of the Church in the modern world, the Roman Pontiff explained that “the renewal desired from the Second Vatican Council has opened the road.”
It is “a special joy that the canonization of Pope Roncalli takes place together with that of Bl. John Paul II,” the Pope continued, adding that “this renewal has brought forward in his long pontificate.”
Going on, the Bishop of Rome expressed that his certainty “that civil society will always be able to find inspiration in the life of the Pope of Bergamo and of the atmosphere he generated, seeking new ways and adapting to the times in order to build a life based on the perennial values of fraternity and solidarity.”
Bringing his message to a close, Pope Francis asked all of Bergamo to pray for him, and assured them of his own “remembrance and prayers,” particularly for “the suffering” and “for the sick.”
“I send to all of you, during the immense feast of Easter, the Apostolic Blessing.”
Rome, Italy, Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Floribeth Mora Diaz, the Costa Rican woman whose healing through the intercession of Bl. John Paul II paved the way for his canonization Sunday, describes the incident as being a rebirth.
"That was the day I was born again: May 1, 2011," Mora told CNA April 24.
In April 2011, Mora had been diagnosed with a serious brain aneurism and been given a month to live.
Mora explained that "once I became ill, I began to carry an image of John Paul II in my hand; I believed in his intercession,” adding that she asked “for his intercession constantly, that he might help me.”
The wife and mother recalled that her admiration for the Polish Pope began when he visited Costa Rica in 1983.
“He was a man completely full of holiness -- that struck me about him. I suppose that's why my admiration grew and so I followed him and asked his intercession.”
Thus, she said, she prayed to the future saint in a personal way.
Mora’s husband, Edwin Arce, said it was not difficult for their family to believe Floribeth’s cure was the result of miraculous intercession.
“When I began to see improvement in her, we were sure it was a miracle ... we saw that there was the hand of God.”
He recounted the challenge of his wife’s infirmity, saying that “in the hospital, when I was in desperation, begging God … I was saying, ‘God, help me, Karol Wojtyla, intercede before God, help me through this, I cannot do this’, and I heard a voice saying ‘take her’, but I did not want her to leave the hospital … and when the voice said again ‘take her, be not afraid’ … it was God, it was John Paul II.”
Arce said that once they had returned home, Floribeth said “my love, I want to tell you something, but maybe you’ll think I’m crazy.”
Reassuringly, however, Edwin responded, “no, my love, be calm, tell me.”
He said that “when she began telling me, I got chills and said, ‘my love, be calm; if you’re crazy, I am crazy, because I too heard these words in the hospital.’”
Mariano Ramirez Carbajal, the doctor assigned by the Costa Rican archdiocese as a medical expert in Mora’s case, said that “her medical history, her clinical documents and images, were true … I have never seen an aneurism disappear spontaneously. This is the first time I have seen an aneurism disappear.”
Fernando Sanchez Campos, the Costa Rican ambassador to the Holy See, said that many of his countrymen had come to Rome for the canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII, and that the occasion is, for Central America, “a great national party.”
“The people are living with a kind of privilege and recognition of their faith. The Costa Rican people, they are a very pious people.”
New York City, N.Y., Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia reflected that Pope Francis in the first year of his papacy has shown “a deep sense of the continuity of the Church” while also being “something different” and “a surprise.”
“He’s a surprise; disarming, improbable, the kind of man no one could have predicted – a surprise that keeps unfolding into more surprises,” Archbishop Chaput said April 25.
“There’s something stunning about a Pope who – for the first time in history – takes the icon of Christian simplicity and poverty as his namesake, and then tries to live like he means it.”
The archbishop said there is “something exhilarating” about a Pope who worries about Christians whose lives “seem like Lent without Easter” and who warns against those who evangelize with a funeral appearance.
Archbishop Chaput spoke about Pope Francis, the Pope’s namesake St. Francis of Assisi, and the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII in his keynote address to a conference on St. Francis of Assisi and the Western Tradition, hosted by the Catholic Center at New York University.
The archbishop suggested that Pope Francis is so popular “because he embodies what the world imagines St. Francis was like: a mendicant and troubadour, not a judge and not a scholar.” Though Pope Francis has “a sophisticated mind,” the world finds him appealing in his “serenity and informality,” his “passionate embrace of the poor and the outcast,” and his “studied avoidance of condemning anyone.”
“Who is Francis, this Pope?” Archbishop Chaput asked. “The short answer is, I don’t know.”
The archbishop expressed his belief that few people outside Pope Francis’ friends and close coworkers really know the Pope. He reported that many Latin American bishops have said the Pope now seems “much more outgoing and ebullient” than he was as a bishop in Argentina.
Archbishop Chaput also noted the continuity of Pope Francis with his predecessors, seen in his upcoming canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII, as well as his affection for Benedict XVI that “clearly comes from the heart.”
He suggested that Pope Francis has avoided the problems of Europe-born Popes, who have been deeply affected by “the civil war for Europe’s soul” that began before the Enlightenment. This conflict continues today in Europe’s “denial of its Christian roots” and its “self-destroying battles over marriage, family, sexual identity and euthanasia.”
“Europe has exhausted itself,” the archbishop said. “Europe has exhausted the world.”
“Maybe a genuinely new evangelization can never be achieved except by a new voice with a new spirit from a new world,” he proposed. “Pope Francis is no stranger to poverty or violence, the plague of corrupt politics or the cruelty of human trafficking. But neither is he a child of the Old World, with its cynicism and despair, its wars and its hatreds.”
Instead, he said, Pope Francis “embodies a Christian spirit older than Europe’s civil war and younger than its fatigue and loss of hope.”
Archbishop Chaput has personal experience with Pope Francis. He worked with the future Pope in late 1997 during the Special Assembly for America in Rome. He found him to be “an impressive man” of “keen intelligence” with a “strong emphasis on evangelization” and “a healthy realism about the problems facing the Church in our hemisphere.”
The archbishop said the future will reveal whether Pope Francis’ popularity can endure in the face of pastoral challenges facing Catholicism.
“How the Pope speaks and acts over the next 20 months on matters like marriage, family and sexuality – issues of burning interest to the media of the developed world – will have a big impact on the way he’s treated by the press,” the archbishop said.
“In the end, Popes lead. And leaders inevitably displease somebody; sometimes a great many somebodies. But of course the real St. Francis never turned away from a task simply because it was hard.”
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis on April 25 stressed the need for bishops and priests to give a “consistent witness” to Christian moral teaching, including the lifelong nature of Christian marriage, and to teach these truths “with great compassion.”
“The holiness and indissolubility of Christian matrimony, often disintegrating under tremendous pressure from the secular world, must be deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples,” Pope Francis said.
“Christian matrimony is a lifelong covenant of love between one man and one woman; it entails real sacrifices in order to turn away from illusory notions of sexual freedom and in order to foster conjugal fidelity.”
The Pope’s remarks came in a meeting with bishops from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, who were making their routine ad limina visit to the Holy Father, Vatican Radio reports.
Pope Francis noted the pastoral challenges presented by marital separation and divorce, even in Christian families, and the lack of a stable home for many children.
“We also observe with great concern, and can only deplore, an increase in violence against women and children,” he continued. “All these realities threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole.”
He stressed the need to continue “indispensable” marriage preparation programs that give “new hope” to young people for their futures as husbands, wives, fathers and mothers.
Pope Francis’ comments follow media reports about the contents of a recent phone call he allegedly made to a remarried divorced woman in Argentina. The woman claimed that the Pope told her she could receive Holy Communion.
Catholic teaching recognizes the nature of matrimony as indissoluble, so a new marriage can only be contracted if the first union was found to be invalid. Those who have entered a new union without a recognition of annulment may not be admitted to Communion.
On April 24, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the media coverage of the woman cannot be confirmed as reliable and is “a source of misunderstanding and confusion.”
In his comments to the southern African bishops, Pope Francis also noted the damage caused by abortion and an attitude of disrespect for life.
“Abortion compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular culture which devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the unborn,” he said.
In addition, the Holy Father acknowledged the bishops’ reports that some Catholics are turning away from the Church to other groups, as well as a decline in family size that is affecting the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
“In this sea of difficulties, we bishops and priests must give a consistent witness to the moral teaching of the Gospel,” he said. “I am confident that you will not weaken in your resolve to teach the truth ‘in season and out of season’ (2 Tim 4), sustained by prayer and discernment, and always with great compassion.”
The Pope also recognized several other concerns of the southern Africa bishops, including the plight of refugees and migrants, dishonesty and corruption in society, and unemployment.
“Most of your people can identify at once with Jesus who was poor and marginalized, who had no place to lay his head,” he observed. “In addressing these pastoral needs, I ask you to offer, in addition to the material support which you provide, the greater support of spiritual assistance and sound moral guidance, remembering that the absence of Christ is the greatest poverty of all.”
Despite the challenges facing the bishops, the Pope praised their “flourishing parishes” and their efforts to train permanent deacons and lay catechists. He praised African clergy and vowed religious who served “God’s most vulnerable sons and daughters,” including widows, single mothers, the divorced, children at risk, and the region’s several million AIDS orphans.
“Truly the richness and joy of the Gospel is being lived and shared by Catholics with others around them,” the Pope said. “I pray that they will continue to persevere in building up the Lord’s Kingdom with their lives that testify to the truth, and with the work of their hands that ease the sufferings of so many.”
He encouraged the bishops to “rekindle the precious gift of faith so as to renew your dedicated service to God’s people!”
“May the saints of Africa sustain you by their intercession. May Our Lady of Africa be always at your side, and may she guide you as you share in the teaching, sanctifying and governing mission of Christ,” he concluded.
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinals Loris Capovilla and Stanislaw Dziwisz, who were personal secretaries to John XXIII and John Paul II, spoke at a news conference Friday of the clear sanctity of both Popes.
Recalling the final days of Bl. John XXIII's life, Cardinal Capovilla, said April 25 that as the Pope lay on his deathbed, he said, trying to comfort him, that while there were but a few persons in the room, the square below was full of people praying for him.
“I know it’s full, because they love me, and I love them,” replied the dying Bishop of Rome.
After making an apology to the Pope for his shortcomings in his role as secretary, the cardinal said Roncalli told him to “forget that, because both of us did the work that the Lord asked of us.”
“Let 'Pacem in terris' come alive,” the Roman Pontiff prayed: “let there be peace and love, and let it come through us.”
Cardinal Capovilla also recalled a significant phrase that John XXIII once said, reflecting that “popes die, but the Pope doesn’t die.”
Moving on to speak of the forthcoming canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, Cardinal Capovilla said, “I appreciate the beauty of this moment that we are living.”
Calling to mind the life of Bl. John Paul II, he drew attention to the strong emphasis he had placed on youth during his pontificate, and explaining that as he watched the saint grow older, “I didn’t watch an old man die, I watched a child with a smile on his face … saints are those who never abandoned or forgot their childhood.”
Christianity has spread through the “gift of love and charity” John Paul II gave, the cardinal noted, highlighting how John XXIII also “spoke of this – of innocence and justice.”
Drawing attention to the one of the first meetings he had with John Paul II after his election as Roman Pontiff, Cardinal Capovilla recalled that he “looked into (the Pope's) eyes and saw something extraordinary.”
While he at first expected to be interrogated, Wojtyla instead “asked me to speak about John XXIII, about the Second Vatican Council, concerns he had,” and doors that John XXIII had opened through the council.
“John Paul II taught us that the Lord invites us to be holy,” he continued, adding that “it's easy to love the poor, but it’s not easy to embrace poverty; it’s easy to speak about those who do penance, but it’s not easy to do penance; it’s easy to love saints, but it’s not easy to love sainthood.”
Cardinal Dziwisz then recounted his 12 years in Krakow as Wojtyla's secretary, and his service throughout his pontificate.
“I lived 39 years with a saint. I lived with a saint. How did I know? His way of praying.”
Cardinal Dziwisz explained that he originally met John Paul II as a professor during his first year of seminary, and that his holiness was perceptible from the first moment they met.
“It wasn’t his work that impressed me, but his quality of prayer,” observing that every day “after class, he would go and pray.”
“John Paul II prayed with his entire life, his whole life was a prayer,” Cardinal Dziwisz reflected, noting that the he would pray constantly for different people and events, including priests, bishops, political situations, persons he met in audiences, and especially those who suffered.
“He always prayed after audiences,” he said, adding that “after Mass was special time of prayer.”
Discussing Wojtyla's favored means of prayer, he mentioned Adoration, the Way of the Cross, devotion to the Holy Spirit which was fostered by his father, and a Christological rosary focusing on Mary's role with her Son.
Another strong aspect of John Paul II's holiness was that of suffering, the cardinal noted, highlighting how the Pope’s whole life was marked by pain, beginning with the death of his family members as a young man, his attempted assassination, and finally his contraction of Parkinson's disease.
Recalling the day Wojtyla was shot in St. Peter’s Square, Cardinal Dziwisz explained that he rode with him in the ambulance on his way to the hospital, and that the whole time John Paul II “prayed for man who shot him, even though he didn’t know who he was, and said he would offer his pain for the world.”