Pope Considered Resigning, Funeral in Poland
The Vatican released the document Thursday as a steady flow of people joined the crowds gathered at Vatican City in Rome for the pontiff’s funeral. About 4 million people have visited the city since John Paul died Saturday at age 84, said police chief Marcello Fulvi.
The will, written over his 27-year pontificate, said he did not leave any material property and asked for his notes to be burned.
The only living people mentioned were his personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, whom he thanked profusely for his years of service, and the former chief rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff, who welcomed him to Rome’s synagogue in 1986, according to the Associated Press.
John Paul in 1982 also considered a funeral in his homeland Poland, asking that the opinion of his countrymen be taken into account by the cardinals. Three years later, however, he said the cardinals were not obligated to do so.
The pope will be buried Friday under St. Peter’s Basilica after an open-air funeral in the square. Although he will not be buried in Poland, an estimated 2 million Poles were making their way to Vatican City to pay their respects to the man credited with helping end communism in Poland and unite Europe.
John Paul started writing his will in 1979, the year after he was elected the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Each entry was written during Lent, a period of reflection on the Church calendar that precedes Easter. The last entry was dated 2000.
The document also shared more information about his thoughts about his life. He suggested in 2000, when the effects of Parkinson’s disease already were apparent, that the time was one of torment for him. He called his survival of the 1981 assassination attempt a “miracle.”
Also in the 2000 revision to the will, John Paul, then 80, said it was time to ask himself about a biblical phrase referring to Simeon who, after blessing Christ when he was a child, said, “Now Master you may let your servant go.”
John Paul said he hoped the Lord “would help me to recognize how long I must continue this service to which he called me the day of 16 October 1978,” the AP reported.
But he appeared to answer his doubts by leaving it to God, who he said had saved him after the assassination attempt, to “recall him when He saw fit.”
The pontiff also called for the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council to continue, calling them “the great gift.”
“I am convinced that still, it will be given to the new generations to draw on the richness that this council of the 20th century has granted us,” he wrote.
Vatican II — a series of meetings from 1962-65 — modernized the Church with a host of reforms, including saying the Mass in languages other than Latin, the priest could face the congregation and opened the Church to other Christian denominations and religions.
The basilica was expected to close around 10 p.m. Thursday to prepare the square for Friday morning’s funeral drawing world leaders, royalty and other dignitaries from nearly 200 countries, according to the AP.
Italian authorities closed the airspace above central Rome, readied anti-aircraft rocket launchers and made other security provisions to protect the visiting dignitaries.