As Pope St. John Paul II was leaving this world to go to the house of the Father, his longtime friend Cardinal Marian Jaworski gave him viaticum — food for the journey, a few drops of the Precious Blood from the Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated in the dying Pope’s room. Cardinal Jaworski, archbishop emeritus of Lviv, Ukraine, has now made the journey himself, dying on Sept. 5.
Cardinal Jaworski’s deathbed presence capped long years at Karol Wojytła’s side. They were young priests together in Kraków and scholars together in the academy.
In 1967, Archbishop Wojtyła asked his fellow philosopher and friend to replace him at a lecture he was booked to give out of town. The train taking Father Jaworski to the lecture crashed; he lost his left arm in the accident. They would henceforth be united in suffering.
As the reconstruction of post-Soviet Ukraine began, John Paul entrusted Father Jaworski with the delicate task of rebuilding and reconciliation, making him archbishop of Lviv. In 1998, John Paul named him — along with Archbishop Jānis Pujats of Riga, Latvia — as cardinals in pectore, meaning that they were secretly appointed. In 2001, their appointments would be revealed.
John Paul never explained why he made the in pectore appointments, but he evidently wanted to demonstrate his closeness to the persecuted Soviet-era Churches. Perhaps he worried about Russian objections in majority Orthodox countries.
Upon the news of Cardinal Jaworski’s death, Pope Francis sent a lengthy message of condolence to the Church in both Poland and Ukraine, indicating the uniqueness of the figure who expressed in his very person the complex history which shaped the life of St. John Paul II.
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