Cardinal Jaworski, friend of St. John Paul II, dies at age 94

Cardinal Jaworski, friend of St. John Paul II, dies at age 94

Cardinal Marian Jaworski. Credit: Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP (GFDL 1.2).
Cardinal Marian Jaworski. Credit: Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP (GFDL 1.2).

.- A cardinal who was close to St. John Paul II died Saturday, two weeks after his 94th birthday.

The death of Cardinal Marian Jaworski was announced Sept. 5 by the press office of the Archdiocese of Kraków.

Jaworski anointed John Paul II before the pope’s death in 2005. 

In a tribute published Sept. 6, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, John Paul II’s personal secretary, said “these two great people of the Church were united until their death by the Church’s deep faith and love -- the courage and readiness to serve the Church in difficult times.”

Jaworski, the former archbishop of Lviv, in western Ukraine, was the first rector of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Kraków and an honorary citizen of the Polish city. 

He was born Aug. 21, 1926, in Lviv, then part of Poland. After his ordination at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a sanctuary near Kraków, in 1950, he resumed his studies, gaining three doctorates by 1965. 

In 1967, he lost his left hand in a train crash near Działdowo, in north-central Poland. Dziwisz said that this setback and later sufferings brought him even closer to the future John Paul II. 

“He was his spiritual confidant,” he said. “He witnessed the departure from this world and the death of John Paul II, giving him viaticum on the way to eternity.”

Jaworski served as dean of the Pontifical Theological Faculty in Kraków from 1976 to 1981, and as its rector from 1981 to 1987. 

In 1984, John Paul II named him apostolic administrator of Lviv archdiocese. He was consecrated bishop by Cardinal Franciszek Macharski on June 23 that year. 

In 1991, the year that Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union, Jaworski became Metropolitan of Lviv. A year later, he was elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ukraine. 

Dziwisz said that Jaworski helped to revive the Church following decades of communist persecution.

“He devoted himself to this difficult pastoral ministry in the new geopolitical reality. We can rightly call him the restorer of the life of the Church in Lviv, which boasts a wonderful history and great spiritual heritage,” he commented.

In 1998, John Paul II named Jaworski a cardinal “in pectore,” meaning that the appointment was kept secret. Three years later, he received the red hat publicly at a consistory in Rome. 

In 2008, he stood down as archbishop of Lviv and retired to Kraków.

Jaworski celebrated the 70th anniversary of his priestly ordination June 25 at a Mass in Kraków’s Wawel Cathedral. He said that his episcopal motto, Mihi vivere Christus est (“For me to live is Christ,” Philippians 1:21), had been the guiding principle of his priestly ministry. 

His funeral will take place Sept. 11 in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. He will be buried, as requested in his will, in the crypt of the chapel of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Calvary.

Following Jaworski’s death, there are 219 members of the College of Cardinals, with 122 eligible to vote in a papal conclave. 

Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Kraków said Sept. 6 that Jaworski was a man of great culture and piety. 

“He enjoyed great authority and respect from St. John Paul II. He was even his confessor for some time -- this proves his outstanding spirituality and sensitivity of spirit, which could be experienced by all those who had the grace to meet him in person,” he said.

Tags: Catholic News, College of Cardinals, Poland, Church in Ukraine, Catholic Church, Lviv

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