During his recent trip to Colombia, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II's personal secretary for 40 years, was presented with the Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit from President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe.
Cardinal Dziwisz, who is also Archbishop of Krakow, Poland visited Colombia to participate in a conference on the legacy of the late-Pope.
The Colombian government said the award is “a sign of the admiration Colombians have for (Cardinal Dziwisz) and his pastoral work, oriented towards helping people overcome any form of oppression through faith.” It is also a sign of “the profound ties and close relations between Colombia and Poland, especially with the Church,” they explained.
During the ceremony, Cardinal Dziwisz recalled his experience as Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary and their visit to Colombia on July 1, 1986. On that occasion, he said, the then-Pope called for the building of a “civilization of love,” in which “the fundamental rights of the person, civil liberties and social rights ... would be guarded and preserved.”