Cardinal Dziwisz: John Paul II's Memory Lives Strong

Reflects on Fifth Anniversary of Pontiff’s Death

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 1, 2010 ( There is an unbroken chain of pilgrims still visiting John Paul II’s tomb, and clamoring for his canonization, says the former Pontiff’s secretary.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, formerly John Paul II’s secretary and currently archbishop of Krakow, affirmed this in an interview with Avvenire.

The cardinal was in Rome for in order to concelebrate with Benedict XVI a Mass, held Monday afternoon in St. Peter’s Square, honoring the 5th anniversary of the death of the former Pope.
<br>On Tuesday, Benedict XVI received the cardinal in an audience. Shortly after, he was interviewed by Luigi Geninazzi.

Recalling John Paul II’s funeral on April 8, 2005, when a wind swept through and turned the pages of the Gospel that was on top of the coffin, the prelate said, «That wind is still blowing.»

He noted that the unbroken chain of faithful who prayed before the mortal remains of John Paul II has not stopped. Every day his tomb is «the goal of a continuous pilgrimage,» explained the Pontiff’s former companion of more than 40 years.
«And when I go to different areas of the world, I notice that his figure is still alive,» he continued.
«People want to hear one talk about him; they want to reflect further on his teaching,» said the cardinal.
He added, «Certainly, history continues and the faithful have great esteem and affection for Benedict XVI, but they don’t forget his predecessor.»

Via Crucis
For Cardinal Dziwisz, this 5th anniversary of the April 2 death has «a very special meaning» as it coincides with Good Friday.
In this sense, he referred to the «last Via Crucis» of the Colosseum followed by John Paul II from his private Chapel.
The cardinal recalled: «He was spiritually with the multitude of the Colosseum, but his gaze was directed at the crucifix. Everyone saw him on television, filmed from behind, bent by suffering and immersed in prayer.»
«And everyone understood that he was offering his sacrifice uniting it to Christ’s,» the prelate added. «In this last Via Crucis, his whole life was summarized, all his pastoral ministry.»
He continued: «He had begun the pontificate inviting all to open the doors to Christ. And he concluded it opening the doors of the world to Christ Crucified.»
The cardinal affirmed: «We must reflect again on this. Above all today, at a time when the Church is living a profound suffering.»
In fact, Cardinal Dziwisz recalled how the Church responded when the cases of pedophilia broke out in the United States in the first years of 2000.
«John Paul II faced the problem with determination doing everything that had to be done in collaboration with the civil judicial authorities,» he said.

The prelate continued, «Benedict XVI moves in the same line and his letter to the Irish bishops represents a strong, courageous and effective response.»
The cardinal affirmed that «we must do justice to the victims, even if it is cases of the past.»
«But at the same time,» he said, «we must defend the image of the Church, which is subjected to ferocious and unjustified attacks to the point of implicating the Holy Father himself.»
«In this I see a certain parallel with what happened in Poland three years ago,» he added.
The Polish cardinal referred to the case of the 2006 appointment of Bishop Stanislaw Wielgus as archbishop of Warsaw.
«It was a media storm that affected the Church with accusations against bishops and priests who would have collaborated with the Communist regime,» he explained.
The prelate stated that «the episcopate directed an exhaustive examination and finally it was established that the cases of collaboration were very few and the honor of the Church was reestablished.»
«And it will also be like this after the trial of these days, I’m sure,» he added.

Regarding the great quantity of publications on Karol Wojtyla, Cardinal Dziwisz said, «Legends are always born around great personalities.»

«They are fundamentally a testimony of love and commitment to John Paul II,» he said.
He observed: «I consider them little flowers as those of St. Francis. That’s it; they are little flowers of John Paul II!»
When asked about the Pope’s corporal penances, the cardinal said he was not able to confirm or deny the Pontiff’s practice of them, but stated, «I don’t exclude them.»
«He was very severe with himself,» the former secretary explained. «He fasted and did penance during Lent and also on other occasions, for example, on the eve of episcopal consecrations.»
«This ascetic practice was the hidden force of his pastoral ministry,» he asserted.
The archbishop of Krakow spoke about the desire of the faithful to see John Paul II declared «blessed» soon.
«It is a desire that appeared from the beginning, with the cry, ‘Santo subito!’ — which we heard during John Paul II’s funeral,» he pointed out.

Standard procedure
«But this desire does not contradict respect for the procedures and time required by the canonical process,» Cardinal Dziwisz clarified.
He continued: «I have always said: We have no intention of pressuring Benedict XVI, to whom the final decision corresponds.
«When he announces it, we will be very happy. But the choice of the date and of the conditions depend only on the Pope, who has the assistance of the Holy Spirit.»
The cardinal refrained from comment on the cure of a French nun, which is being studied as a possible miracle through the intercession of John Paul II.
«I am not part of the medical commission or of that of the theologians,» he said.
«However,» the prelate added, «we have news of very many cures and graces received through the intercession of John Paul II.»
«Of course, the time [of the beatification process] would be more prolonged if the examination of another case were necessary, but it is a hypothesis that I do not wish to take into consideration,» he said.
Cardinal Dziwisz concluded that even «holding ourselves to the facts,» he is still «very confident.»

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