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Cardinal Dziwisz: St. John Paul II’s last days ‘a source of consolation’ for pandemic-hit world

People around the world continue to draw strength from the way that St. John Paul II faced his final days, his former personal secretary said on the 16th anniversary of the Polish pope’s death.

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz noted that this year’s anniversary fell on Good Friday amid a pandemic that has claimed more than 2,800,000 lives worldwide.

The 81-year-old Polish cardinal said that the last weeks of John Paul II’s 27-year pontificate offered a message of interpersonal solidarity.

“The lesson that John Paul II gave to the world when he was leaving for the Father’s house can be a source of consolation and solace for those who are desperate after the death of their loved ones, as well as for those who fear for their health and safety,” the retired Kraków archbishop told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

Recalling John Paul II’s death at the age of 84 on April 2, 2005, Dziwisz said: “It was a humanly sad and painful time, but at the same time filled with some light.”

He noted that after the pope’s last breath those present sang the “Te Deum” in thanksgiving for John Paul II’s life, rather than reciting the “Eternal Rest” prayer.

Dziwisz said that the pope accepted his last years of infirmity and his approaching death “with humility and even with a certain serenity.”

“His humility was also manifested in the fact that he did not avoid cameras, meetings with people, although he knew that they could see his weakness and even his physical helplessness. It was courageous — to show his suffering to the world. I think that it helped many sick people and people dying suffering from ailments of body and spirit.”

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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