Just two days after his return from Krakow, Pope Francis today sent a message of condolences to the archbishop of the city, expressing his sorrow at the death this morning of Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, who succeeded Karol Wojtyla as the archbishop of the city in 1978 when Wojtyla was elected Pope.
Macharski retired in 2005 and was succeeded by John Paul II’s secretary, the current archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.
During Francis’ trip to Krakow last week for World Youth Day, he visited the ailing cardinal at hospital. The 89-year-old has been in the hospital since June 12.
Pope Francis recalls the visit in his message today to Cardinal Dziwisz: “I am grateful to Providence, that it was possible for me to visit him during <my> recent visit to Krakow. In the last stage of life, he was greatly tried by suffering, which he accepted with serenity of spirit. Also in this trial, he remained a faithful witness of trust in the goodness and mercy of God. So will he remain in my memory and prayer. May the Lord receive him in His glory!”
Franciszek Macharski was born in Krakow on May 20, 1927. He was ordained a priest on April 2, 1950. He was appointed the archbishop of Krakow on Dec. 29 in the year that Pope John Paul II was elected (1978) and made a cardinal the following year, on June 30.
With the death of Cardinal Macharski, there are now 112 cardinals eligible to vote in a conclave, and 99 cardinals over 80, and thus unable to vote.
Here is the full translation of the Pope’s message:
To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow
I learned with grief the news of the death of Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, Archbishop Emeritus of Krakow. I join you, dear Brother, the Presbytery and the faithful of the Church in Poland in the prayer of gratitude for the life and pastoral commitment of this meritorious Minister of the Gospel.
Iesu, in te confido! – Jesus, I trust in you! This episcopal motto guided his life and his ministry. Today, in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, it has become an eloquent invocation that proclaims the fulfilment of the work that the Lord entrusted to him in the act of Baptism, introducing him in the array of those sealed with His Redeeming Blood, and following later with the gift of the priesthood, when He sent him with the task to sanctify the People with the word and the grace of the Sacraments. He carried out this mission with zeal as Pastor, Professor, and Rector of the Seminary, up to the day in which the Lord asked him to take on the inheritance of Saint Stanislaw and of his immediate Predecessor, Karol Wojtyla, today Saint John Paul II, on the Bishop’s Chair at Krakow. With trust in Divine Mercy, he conducted this work as father for the priests and the faithful entrusted to his care, He guided the Church in Krakow in the uneasy period of political and social transformations, with wisdom, with a healthy detachment of the reality, being concerned with respect for every person, for the good of the community of the Church and, especially, to keep alive the faith in men’s hearts.
I am grateful to Providence, that it was possible for me to visit him during <my> recent visit to Krakow. In the last stage of life, he was greatly tried by suffering, which he accepted with serenity of spirit. Also in this trial, he remained a faithful witness of trust in the goodness and mercy of God. So will he remain in my memory and prayer. May the Lord receive him in His glory!
To you, Venerable Brother, to the Polish Cardinals and Bishops, to the Family of the deceased, to all the Polish faithful I impart my heartfelt blessing: in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
From the Vatican, August 2, 2016
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]