Here is a draft translation from Polish of an interview Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz gave to Monsignor Ireneusz Skubiś of the Catholic weekly Niedziela.
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Q: Your Eminence, we were witnesses of a lesson given to us by John Paul II. How shall we understand another lesson — responsibility for the Church — this time given to us by Benedict XVI?
Cardinal Dziwisz: John Paul II was very close to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; later Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI was very close to the thought of John Paul II. John Paul II consulted all important matters, also in the last days of his life, with Cardinal Ratzinger.
Certainly, each of them has his charisma. The Holy Father Benedict XVI is a great pope who influenced the renewal and deepening religious life of the Church through his intellectual and theological preparation and spirituality. He will surely come into history as a great pope.
His charism was unique, like the unique charism of John Paul II, who carried out his pontificate in a different way. But we see a kind of fulfillment in it.
The present Holy Father surely considered all his personal matters and presented his decision [to resign] at the consistory. We must respect this and pray for him to God. The Holy Spirit reigns over the Church and enlivens it in every moment. We accept it as God’s will, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Q: Benedict XVI has often spoken about the Church as a boat thrown on restless waves of the ocean of the world. How should we interpret his decisions in the spirit of faith? Should we start relying on the Holy Spirit?
Cardinal Dziwisz: We must absolutely accept it as God’s will. The decision was full of prayer, reflection, and the Holy Father can’t surely have made it easily. Being for so many years near John Paul II, I know that such decisions cost a lot. And this decision was difficult but brave.
Q: Was the decision to resign a surprise for the cardinals?
Cardinal Dziwisz: Benedict XVI surprised all of us very deeply. We did not expect it, but we accept it with faith and we thank the Holy Father for everything that he did and is still going to do for us. He will surely be devoted to contemplation and he will still support the Church in his prayer with his person and charism.
Q: Having a special Roman experience, Your Eminence was surely looking at Benedict XVI in a different way than we all. Can you tell us something about that?
Cardinal Dziwisz: In the previous century we’ve had really great popes. Each of them has had his charism but they complemented one another. In this way the Church was directed, with pastors who knew how to be a support at a particular moment, on whom the Church relied as well as the whole of humankind. Beginning from Leo XIII, through Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII and, certainly, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, each of these popes had his charism, each of them brought his personality into the Church, beside what they gained from the Holy Spirit. Benedict XVI is bringing his person, his special talent and charism into the Church, beside what the Holy Spirit is saying to him. All this is going to bring fruits. The new pope will also bring himself into the Church, will enrich the Church with a new charism.
Q: As you’re right to say, the pope is a support not only for the Church, for believers, but also for the whole of humankind. So, we are waiting for a new pope, who will lead the Church safely through storms and winds of the present times…
Cardinal Dziwisz: The Church is a sign of opposition. It was, is and will be this sign because it has its ministry, it is bringing its message, which is not convenient to everybody. Therefore we are praying deeply for a pope who will be able to lead the Church in such a way, that it would be able to fulfill its mission given to it by Jesus Christ.
Q: Your Eminence, as cardinal elector: The future conclave is facing a big task now – the vote of every elector is very important for the Church and the whole humankind. You will have to think deeply on a candidate for the pope….
Cardinal Dziwisz: We must return here to the texts of John Paul II, in his testament, among others, he wrote the significant words: “The Holy Spirit will show.” The cardinals gathered at prayer must recognize this will of God, accept the indication of the Holy Spirit and in this way introduce a new pope. It will be the first time I will have participated in a conclave but as I have heard from other cardinals, one can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in a conclave. One has to open to His inspiration and choose the man whom God wants.
Q: We will support this election with a prayer…
Cardinal Dziwisz: I have much trustfulness in the prayer of the Church, we can ask the Holy Spirit through it, so that the Holy Spirit would show the most suitable person among candidates, for today and the tomorrow of the Church. Apart from that I am sure that we will be supported by the care of Blessed John Paul II…
Q: Benedict XVI would say that he felt how John Paul II was looking at him from Heaven’s window. I think that also now he is together with his Church through his loving care.
Cardinal Dziwisz: Surely Blessed John Paul II remembers all of us because he was always faithful in his love for God and man. We will also rely on every spiritual support of Benedict XVI who said that he would ask God, so that all matters in the Church would be successful, in the name of Jesus Christ. But I invite also all readers of “Niedziela” to a great prayer for the Church and a prayer to the Holy Spirit, so that he would point out the person who is needed by the Church.
Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz is 73. He was born in Raba Wyżna, Poland, and ordained a priest at age 24. He was the personal secretary of Pope John Paul II, and was made a cardinal in 2006.