John Paul II Entrusts His Future to Mary

Signals That Retirement Isn’t in the Program

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2002 ( When he marked the 24th anniversary of his pontificate, John Paul II left no doubt about his determination to continue as Pope.

He began his address Wednesday at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square by quoting what he said in the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Shrine last Aug. 19.

«Most Holy Mother, […] obtain also for me the strength of body and spirit, so that I will be able to fulfill to the end the mission assigned to me by the Risen One,» the Pope said.

«I give to you all the fruits of my life and of my ministry, I entrust to you the future of the Church; […] I trust in you and to you I say once again: ‘Totus tuus, Maria! Totus tuus!’ Amen,» he added.

«Totus tuus» — All thine — has been the motto of his pontificate. It implies an act of consecration of his life to the Virgin Mary.

After thanking God «for the 24 years of my service to the Church in the See of Peter,» the Holy Father continued: «On this special day, I entrust once again to the hands of the Mother of God the life of the Church and that of sorely tried humanity.»

«To her I also entrust my future. I place everything in her hands, so that with a Mother’s love, she will present it to her Son,» he said.

The Pontiff’s words countered media-fed rumors about his resignation.

As early as 1985, a French book, «Daily Life in the Vatican Under John Paul II,» addressed the possibility of the Pope’s resignation. The Vatican Press Office did not take the trouble to deny its assumptions.

Rumors were rampant from 1992 to 1995, a period when the Pope underwent surgery and reached his 75th birthday, the mandatory age of retirement for bishops.

The first time the Holy Father referred to the matter was on May 17, 1995, when he said: «First of all, I renew before Christ my offer of availability to serve the Church for as long as he wills, abandoning myself completely to his holy will. I leave to him the decision as to when and how he will relieve me of this service.»

The Pope has since repeated this position publicly. Still, on the eve of his last trip to Poland, some French and German newspapers said he would resign and enter a monastery.

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