.- In an article published in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Vatican analyst Luigi Acattoli pointed out that contrary to media reports, Pope John Paul II never considered resigning.
In 2000, Acattoli explains, the Pontiff made important additions to the text he wrote for his will just a few a months after his election during the Spiritual Exercises of 1979. “As the Jubilee Year progressed,” the Pope wrote, “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'.”
According to Acattoli, the Pope “never gave any serious thought to resigning; rather, in 2000 he prayed to God for help to understand how long he should continue.”
In fact, the Nunc dimittis, which is recited by the Church during Night Prayer—at the end of the day—does not refer to resignation, but rather to the moment of death: “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled…”
“And for Pope Wojtila, these words refer not to the peace of retirement, but rather to eternity,” Acattoli explained.
Acattoli notes the Pope was wondering whether the time had come for God to call him to Himself, and consequently it was meant to be a reflection on the preparation for his death, which would not take place until five years later.
That explains why the additions made to the will in 2000 conclude with: “As the end of my life approaches I return with my memory to the beginning…”