WARSAW, Poland — Pope John Paul II’s secretary “did not have the courage” to burn all of the pontiff’s notes after his death, and is now having some of them published, he said Wednesday.
The book, “Very Much in God’s Hands. Personal Notes 1962-2003,” comes out Feb. 5 in Poland, where the pope is still a much-loved authority. It contains religious meditations that Karol Wojtyla recorded between July 1962, when he was a bishop in Poland, and March 2003, when he was pope.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz told a news conference that in preserving some of the notes he was motivated by the “despair of historians” when the letters of Pope Pius XII were burned after his death, as he had wished.
In his last will, John Paul commissioned Dziwisz, his personal secretary and closest aide of almost 40 years, to burn his personal notes. Instead, Dziwisz kept them and is having them published before John Paul is declared a saint April 27 in Rome. They were made available to the Vatican in the pope’s fast-track beatification and sainthood processes.
In his notes, contained in two bound notebooks, the pope “reveals a part of his soul, of his meeting with God, contemplation and piety and that is the greatest value,” Dziwisz said in the southern city of Krakow, where he is archbishop and where Wojtyla was also bishop and cardinal.
He said he burned “those letters and notes that required burning,” but added it would have been a crime to burn all the notes that give insight into the pope’s soul.
“In keeping them I respected his will,” he insisted.
At first, Wojtyla made notes only in Polish, but later also in Italian and Latin with Greek and Spanish inclusions, said Henryk Wozniakowski, head of the Catholic publishers Znak.
The book’s editor, Agnieszka Rudziewicz, said the notes are an “extraordinary record of a spiritual path” and a record of Wojtyla’s “self-development and road to sainthood,” but readers should not expect “sensation.”
John Paul died in 2005 at age 84. He served 26 years as pope.