Pope John Paul II’s former personal secretary will release his new book this week on his experience as the late pope’s personal secretary.
“A Life with Karol” was written by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the pope's personal secretary for nearly four decades, and it is to be released by Italy's Rizzoli publishers on Wednesday.
Dziwisz recalls how the late Pope seriously considered resigning in 2000 because of his poor health and also mulled changing Church law so that popes would bow out at age 80, the age at which Cardinals no longer vote in Papal conclaves.
The current Archbishop of Krakow said Pope John Paul II called together a group of advisors to discuss the idea, but ultimately, “came to the conclusion that he had to submit himself to God's will, that is, to remain (in office) as long as God wanted.”
In the book, Dziwisz also reportedly writes that he is convinced the Soviet Union was behind the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul. Dziwisz speculates that the Pope was considered a threat to its power given how the Polish people were rallying to topple communism during that period.
Last year, a report by an Italian parliamentary investigative commission said the leaders of the former Soviet Union were behind the plot and that Mehmet Ali Agca did not act alone. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the assassination attempt.
In a chapter called The Last Hours, Dziwisz recalls John Paul's final moments of life.
"It was 9.27 p.m. We noticed that the Holy Father stopped breathing,” he wrote, “some people stopped the hands of their watches at that hour."