Prelate Recalls His Last Moments With Holy Father

Archbishop Comastri Received a Final Blessing

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2005 ( Archbishop Angelo Comastri, a close friend of John Paul II’s, received an unexpected call last Friday from Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Pope’s private secretary.

Archbishop Dziwisz invited the Italian prelate to come to the Pope’s room to receive his last blessing.

«I hastened, naturally, to the Holy Father’s apartment, where the Pope was living his suffering, his passion and, I would say, his battle to the end,» said Archbishop Comastri, who was appointed only a few weeks ago as vicar of Vatican City State. He also preached the Spiritual Exercises in the presence of John Paul II and the Roman Curia three years ago.

«When I found myself before the Pontiff, I felt an indescribable emotion and at that moment images came to my mind that the television transmitted on Good Friday night, when it focused on the Pope’s back, with the crucifix before him,» the archbishop said in a testimony broadcast on Vatican Radio.

«Seeing him in his bed of suffering, I said to him: ‘You truly are the Vicar of Christ to the end, in the passion you are living with an edification that moves the world,'» the archbishop recalled.

«I also told him that all the controversies about the Pope’s efficiency in the past months had not understood that there must be a distinction between efficiency and efficacy,» he added. «There are efficient people who are not at all effective, and there are inefficient people, as the Pope was in his suffering, who are extraordinarily effective.

«With his suffering, the Pope has written the most beautiful encyclical of his life, faithful to Jesus to the end. I knelt down, I asked him for his blessing and the Pope moved his hand lightly.

«I realized he wanted to bless me, but again he weakened. Then I rested my head on the Pontiff’s hand, I wept, and I stayed a few moments in silence.»

Archbishop Comastri added: «Then I left the Pope’s room, taking that moment with me, which I consider his personal testament for me, his last blessing.»

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