Pope Recalls Service of Cardinal Deskur

Polish Native Was Friend of John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- During today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI recalled the service of Polish Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur, who died last Saturday in Rome.

The funeral service for the 87-year-old cardinal was held Tuesday at St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Deskur was the retired president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and a long-time friend of Pope John Paul II.

Speaking in Polish at the end of the audience, Benedict XVI said: «During yesterday’s funeral, we bid our final farewell to Cardinal Andrei Maria Deskur, a friend of Blessed John Paul II and your countryman.

«His service to the Pope was sustained with prayer and suffering, and he entrusted his own life to Mary Immaculate. May she implore heavenly glory for him.»

During the homily at the funeral Mass, Cardinal Sodano called the Polish native a «good and generous pastor» who offered his life for the good of the Church.

The cardinal spent the last 33 years of his life in a wheelchair, after suffering a brain hemorrhage on Oct. 13, 1978, just three days before his friend, Karol Wojtyla, was elected Pope.

The funeral Mass was concelebrated by 25 cardinals, including Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, retired archbishop of Cracow. Some 15 bishops and archbishops also concelebrated.

Sufferings and trials

In his homily, published in the semi-official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Sodano recalled that Cardinal Deskur wished to fulfill «in his numerous trials» the ideal illustrated by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic letter «Salvifici Doloris,» namely, «to offer his life for the good of the Holy Church and, in particular, for the fecund ministry of the Successor of Peter.»

The dean of the College of Cardinals said Cardinal Deskur experienced «painful events» in his life, «from the tremendous trials of the last World War and the difficult years in which he found himself working for the Church in his Poland, to the long Calvary of his illness.»

In 1978, in the weeks preceding the election of the Polish Pope, the then Bishop Deskur organized a series of dinners in his Vatican apartment, in the Palace of St. Charles, to introduce Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.

The day before the conclave, Bishop Deskur suffered an incapacitating brain hemorrhage that left him paralyzed on the left side for the rest of his life. Despite news reports of his death, and the many Requiem Masses that had been offered for him, he recovered.

John Paul II visited Bishop Deskur in the Gemelli Polyclinic the day after he was elected Pope and, according to eyewitnesses, he said to the hospital staff: «He taught me to be Pope.»

«He was tested, but God found him worthy,» said Cardinal Sodano. «He had a poor heart … he was tested by many afflictions, but precisely because of this he merited the Lord’s consolations.»

«He was a merciful pastor, but precisely because of this he merited the Lord’s mercy,» he added. «He was also a peace maker, but precisely for this reason he is worthy of being called son of God.»

Cardinal Deskur journeyed a long way, «at a difficult time in the history of his beloved Polished land, as well as in the exalting period that followed in the service of the See of Peter,» continued Cardinal Sodano.

«Suffice it to think of his generous commitment in the specific sector of the means of social communication, with his effort to awaken here in Rome, as well as in numerous countries of the world, providential initiatives of diffusion of the Pope’s Word and the activity of the Apostolic See,» the dean recalled.

«Dear brother, may all the Angels and Saints accompany you to Paradise! In particular, may Mary Most Holy, Queen of the Angels and of the Saints, to whom you were particularly devoted, guide you to the eternal homeland,» Cardinal Sodano concluded.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Cracow, will celebrate a funeral Mass on Sept. 12 at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland, where Cardinal Deskur will be buried.

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