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Living, working with holy popes, secretaries struck by their faith

TWO cardinals who not only worked with Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, but lived with them said they knew their bosses were saints because of their simple faith and goodness.

Cardinal Dziwisz

Cardinal Dziwisz

Cardinal Loris Capovilla, 98, who served as Blessed John’s secretary for 10 years, and Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who served as Blessed John Paul’s secretary for 39 years, spoke to reporters at the Vatican on April 25 about the canonisation of the two popes.

Cardinal Capovilla, who spoke from northern Italy, told reporters they would have to forgive him for being “an old priest,” who was “emotional, confused and intimidated” by the video link with the media at the Vatican.

“I feel the greatness and beauty of this moment we are living,” said the cardinal.

While Pope John was 81 when he died in 1963, “I didn’t witness the death of an old man. I saw a child die,” the cardinal said.

Pope John had the gleam in his eyes of a child and a smile on his lips.

“Saints are those who remain children,” Cardinal Capovilla said, maintaining youthful energy and enthusiasm as they follow the path God sets out for them.

Cardinal Dziwisz, (pictured) who turned 75 on the canonisation day, first met the then-Father Karol Wojtyla at a Polish seminary.

He told reporters, “for 39 years I lived with John Paul II … I lived with a saint. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so.”

Pope John Paul was a great professor, priest, bishop, cardinal and pope, he said, but his holiness was seen in his prayer.

 “People often ask me how many hours a day he prayed,” the cardinal said.

 “He prayed with his life. You can’t divide his prayer from his life. His whole life was a prayer and everything that happened passed through prayer.”

His holiness also was evident in his “holy suffering,” the way he handled the suffering that punctuated his whole life – losing his mother at a young age, then his brother and then his father; the 1981 assassination attempt; and, finally, Parkinson’s disease.

“I was in the ambulance with him” after he was shot, the cardinal said.

 “He was praying for his assailant. Although he didn’t know who he was, he already forgave him.”

“He never complained,” Cardinal Dziwisz said.

“Christ saved the world through the cross,” and Pope John Paul offered his suffering as a prayer for the world.


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