Pope John Paul II waits in his private library before a private meeting at the Vatican, Feb. 22, 2005.
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope John Paul II, weighed down by illness and age, reflected on his possible resignation as he turned 80, according to his last will and testament published Thursday. The pope also wrote of tormented times for himself and the church and left instructions for his notes to be burned.
The document, written in several entries over 22 years before he died Saturday at age 84, provides extraordinary insight into the pope's thinking in the twilight of his life as he reflected on death and his legacy, and as he prayed for the "necessary strength" to continue his mission.
"The times in which we live are unutterably difficult and disturbed," he wrote in 1980, according to the official Vatican translation from Polish. "The path of the church has also become difficult and tense... both for the faithful and for pastors."
The following is the Vatican information service's English translation of the official Italian translation of the text of Pope John Paul II's last will and testament, which was originally written in Polish, dated March 6, 1979, with successive additions (The editor's notes are the AP's. The parentheses are in the pope's text, except for Vatican notations):
Last Will and Testament
The testament of 6.3.1979 (Eds: March 6, 1979)
(and successive additions)
"Totus Tuus ego sum" (Eds: Latin for "I am completely in Your hands")
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
"Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (cf. Matthew 24, 42) - these words remind me of the last call, which will happen at the moment the Lord wishes. I desire to follow Him, and I desire that everything making up part of my earthly life should prepare me for this moment. I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too in the hands of the Mother of my Master: Totus Tuus. In the same maternal Hands I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and vocation have linked me. In these Hands I leave, above all, the Church, as well as my Nation and all humanity. I thank everyone. Of everyone I ask forgiveness. I also ask for prayer, that the Mercy of God may appear greater than my weakness and unworthiness.
During the spiritual exercises I reread the testament of the Holy Father Paul VI. That reading prompted me to write this testament.
I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. As for the everyday objects that were of use to me, I ask they be distributed as seems appropriate. My personal notes are to be burned. I ask that this be attended to by Father Stanislaw (Eds: his personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz), whom I thank for his collaboration and help, so prolonged over the years and so understanding. As for all other thanks, I leave them in my heart before God Himself, because it is difficult to express them.
As for the funeral, I repeat the same dispositions as were given by the Holy Father Paul VI. (Here is a note in the margin: burial in the bare earth, not in a sarcophagus, 13.3.92) (Eds: March 13, 1992).
"Apud Dominum misericordia et copiosa apud Eum redemptio." (Eds: Latin for "With the Lord there is mercy, and with Him plentiful redemption.")
John Paul pp. II
Rome, 6.III.1979 (Eds: March 6, 1979)
After my death I ask for Masses and prayers.
5.III.1990 (Eds: March 5, 1990)
(Eds: Undated sheet of paper)
I express my profound trust that, despite all my weakness, the Lord will grant me all the grace necessary to face according to His will any task, trial or suffering that He will ask of His servant, in the course of his life. I also trust that He will never allow me - through some attitude of mine: words, deeds or omissions - to betray my obligations in this holy Petrine See.
24.II-1.III.1980 (Eds: Feb. 24-March 1, 1980)
Also during these spiritual exercises, I have reflected on the truth of the Priesthood of Christ in the perspective of that Transit that for each of us is the moment of our own death. For us the Resurrection of Christ is an eloquent (Vatican notation: added above, decisive) sign of departing from this world - to be born in the next, in the future world.
I have read, then, the copy of my testament from last year, also written during the spiritual exercises - I compared it with the testament of my great predecessor and Father, Paul VI, with that sublime witness to death of a Christian and a Pope - and I have renewed within me an awareness of the questions to which the copy of 6.III.1979 (Eds: March 6, 1979) refers, prepared by me (in a somewhat provisional way).
Today I wish to add only this: that each of us must bear in mind the prospect of death. And must be ready to present himself before the Lord and Judge - Who is at the same time Redeemer and Father. I too continually take this into consideration, entrusting that decisive moment to the Mother of Christ and of the Church - to the Mother of my hope.
The times in which we live are unutterably difficult and disturbed. The path of the Church has also become difficult and tense, a characteristic trial of these times - both for the Faithful and for Pastors. In some Countries (as, for example, in those about which I read during the spiritual exercises), the Church is undergoing a period of such persecution as to be in no way lesser than that of early centuries, indeed it surpasses them in its degree of cruelty and hatred. "Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum" (Eds: Latin for "Blood of the martyrs - seeds of Christians"). And apart from this - many people die innocently even in this Country in which we are living.
Once again, I wish to entrust myself totally to the Lord's grace. He Himself will decide when and how I must end my earthly life and pastoral ministry. In life and in death, Totus Tuus in Mary Immaculate. Accepting that death, even now, I hope that Christ will give me the grace for the final passage, in other words (Vatican notation: "my") Easter. I also hope that He makes (Vatican notation: "that death") useful for this more important cause that I seek to serve: the salvation of men and women, the safeguarding of the human family and, in that, of all nations and all peoples (among them, I particularly address my earthly Homeland), and useful for the people with whom He particularly entrusted me, for the question of the Church, for the glory of God Himself.
I do not wish to add anything to what I wrote a year ago - only to express this readiness and, at the same time, this trust, to which the current spiritual exercises have again disposed me.
John Paul II
Totus Tuus ego sum 5.III.1982 (Ed: March 5, 1982)
In the course of this year's spiritual exercises I have read (a number of times) the text of the testament of 6.III.1979 (Eds: March 6, 1979). Although I still consider it provisional (not definitive), I leave it in the form in which it exists. I change nothing (for now), and neither do I add anything, as concerns the dispositions contained therein.
The attempt upon my life on 13.V.1981 (Eds: May 13, 1981) in some way confirmed the accuracy of the words written during the period of the spiritual exercises of 1980 (24.II-1.III) (Eds: Feb. 24-March 1).
All the more deeply I now feel that I am totally in the Hands of God - and I remain continually at the disposal of my Lord, entrusting myself to Him in His Immaculate Mother (Totus Tuus)
John Paul pp.II
5.III.82 (March 5, 1982)
In connection with the last sentence in my testament of 6.III.1979 (March 6, 1979) ("concerning the site / that is, the site of the funeral / let the College of Cardinals and Compatriots decide") - I will make it clear that I have in mind: the metropolitan of Krakow or the General Council of the Episcopate of Poland. In the meantime I ask the College of Cardinals to satisfy, as far as possible, any demands of the above-mentioned.
2. 1.III.1985 (Eds: March 1, 1985) (during the spiritual exercises)
Again - as regards the expression "College of Cardinals and Compatriots": the "College of Cardinals" has no obligation to consult "Compatriots" on this subject, however it can do so, if for some reason it feels it is right to do so.
Spiritual exercise of the Jubilee Year 2000 (12-18.III) (Eds: March 12-18).
(Vatican notation: "for my testament")
1. When, on Oct. 16, 1978, the conclave of cardinals chose John Paul II, the primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski told me: "The duty of the new Pope will be to introduce the Church into the Third Millennium." I don't know if I am repeating this sentence exactly, but at least this was the sense of what I heard at the time. This was said by the Man who entered history as the primate of the Millennium. A great primate. I was a witness to his mission, to his total entrustment. To his battles. To his victory. "Victory, when it comes, will be a victory through Mary" - The primate of the Millennium used to repeat these words of his predecessor, Cardinal August Hlond.
In this way I was prepared in some manner for the duty that presented itself to me on Oct. 16, 1978. As I write these words, the Jubilee Year 2000 is already a reality. The night of Dec. 24, 1999, the symbolic Door of the Great Jubilee in the Basilica of St. Peter's was opened, then that of St. John Lateran, then St. Mary Major - on New Year's, and on Jan. 19, the Door of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. This last event, given its ecumenical character, has remained impressed in my memory in a special way.
2. As the Jubilee Year progressed, day by day the 20th century closes behind us and the 21st century opens. According to the plans of Divine Providence, I was allowed to live in the difficult century that is retreating into the past, and now, in the year in which my life reaches 80 years ("octogesima adveniens"), it is time to ask oneself if it is not the time to repeat with the biblical Simeone 'nunc dimittis' (Ed: Latin for "Now Master you may let your servant go.")
On May 13, 1981, the day of the attack on the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Divine Providence saved me in a miraculous way from death. The One Who is the Only Lord of life and death Himself prolonged my life, in a certain way He gave it to me again. From that moment it belonged to Him even more. I hope He will help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service to which I was called on Oct. 16, 1978. I ask him to call me back when He Himself wishes. "In life and in death we belong to the Lord ... we are the Lord's." (cf. Romans 14,8). I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfill the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service.
3. As I do every year during spiritual exercises, I read my testament from 6-III-1979 (Eds: March 6, 1979). I continue to maintain the dispositions contained in this text. What then, and even during successive spiritual exercises, has been added constitutes a reflection of the difficult and tense general situation which marked the '80s. From autumn of the year 1989, this situation changed. The last decade of the century was free of the previous tensions; that does not mean that it did not bring with it new problems and difficulties. In a special way may Divine Providence be praised for this, that the period of the so-called "cold war" ended without violent nuclear conflict, the danger of which weighed on the world in the preceding period.
4. Being on the threshold of the third millennium "in medio Ecclesiae" (Eds: Latin for "inside the Church") I wish once again to express gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of Vatican Council II, to which, together with the entire Church - and above all the entire episcopacy - I feel indebted. I am convinced that for a long time to come the new generations will draw upon the riches that this Council of the 20th century gave us. As a bishop who participated in this conciliar event from the first to the last day, I wish to entrust this great patrimony to all those who are and who will be called in the future to realize it. For my part I thank the eternal Pastor Who allowed me to serve this very great cause during the course of all the years of my pontificate.
"In medio Ecclesiae" ... from the first years of my service as a bishop - precisely thanks to the Council - I was able to experience the fraternal communion of the Episcopacy. As a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow, I experienced the fraternal communion among priests - and the Council opened a new dimension to this experience.
5. How many people should I list! Probably the Lord God has called to Himself the majority of them - as to those who are still on this side, may the words of this testament recall them, everyone and everywhere, wherever they are.
During the more than 20 years that I am fulfilling the Petrine service "in medio Ecclesiae" I have experienced the benevolence and even more the fecund collaboration of so many cardinals, archbishops and bishops, so many priests, so many consecrated persons - brothers and sisters - and, lastly, so very, very many lay persons, within the Curia, in the vicariate of the diocese of Rome, as well as outside these milieux.
How can I not embrace with grateful memory all the bishops of the world whom I have met in "ad limina Apostolorum" (Eds: a reference to required, periodic visits)! How can I not recall so many non-Catholic Christian brothers! And the rabbi of Rome and so many representatives of non -Christian religions! And how many representatives of the world of culture, science, politics, and of the means of social communication!
6. As the end of my life approaches I return with my memory to the beginning, to my parents, to my brother, to the sister (I never knew because she died before my birth), to the parish in Wadowice, where I was baptized, to that city I love, to my peers, friends from elementary school, high school and the university, up to the time of the occupation when I was a worker, and then in the parish of Niegowic, then St. Florian's in Krakow, to the pastoral ministry of academics, to the milieu of ... to all milieux ... to Krakow and to Rome ... to the people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.
To all I want to say just one thing: "May God reward you."
"In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum." (Eds: Latin for "In your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.")
A.D. 17.III.2000 (Eds: March 17, 2000)
JOHN PAUL II: TESTAMENT