Pope's aide disobeyed him and kept his papers

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The Independent Online

The man who served Pope John Paul II as his private secretary for nearly 40 years has revealed he disobeyed the pontiff's last testament instruction to burn his papers because they were "great riches". Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, one of only two individuals mentioned by name in John Paul's will, said in an interview on Polish radio that there were "quite a lot of manuscripts on various issues," but refused to give any details.

The man who served Pope John Paul II as his private secretary for nearly 40 years has revealed he disobeyed the pontiff's last testament instruction to burn his papers because they were "great riches". Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, one of only two individuals mentioned by name in John Paul's will, said in an interview on Polish radio that there were "quite a lot of manuscripts on various issues," but refused to give any details.

He suggested some of the material left by the pope could be useful in the process of beatification, announced by Pope Benedict XVI last month.

"Nothing has been burnt," he went on, "Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations - every single sentence." Don Stanislao, as he was known in the Vatican, was the pope's constant companion and the two enjoyed a relationship described as father-son and love-hate. Born in southern Poland in 1939, the son of a railway worker, and ordained a priest in 1963, he was Archbishop Karol Wojtyla's assistant in Krakow, and followed him to Rome on his election as pope.

During the pope's final years, when he was increasingly helpless, Archibishop Dziwisz gained enormous power as his doorkeeper. "He was the most hated man in the Vatican," said one Polish observer, "but that's the lot of every pope's secretary." He caused outrage among some Polish Catholics when he refused to allow Father Adam Boniewski, a biographer and old friend of the pope, to see him for the final 12 years of the pope's life.

Pope John Paul went against tradition by appointing Don Stanislao first bishop and then archbishop. On Friday, the Polish prelate was named the new Archbishop of Krakow, one of the most important Catholic archdioceses.

The archbishop's few public pronouncements have been notably acid. In October 2003, amid speculation the pope was mortally ill, he said: "Some journalists who in recent years have spoken and written a lot about the pope's health are already in heaven."

In the same month the present pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, told a journalist he bumped into on the street that John Paul was "in a bad way" and that the faithful should pray for him - an innocuous enough remark, but so infuriating to Archbishop Dziwisz that his rebuke reduced Cardinal Ratzinger to tears, which Archbishop Dziwisz then made public.

"Cardinal Ratzinger was crying yesterday, explaining that he never gave an interview but merely answered someone he met on the street, saying, if the pope is sick, pray for him," Archbishop Dziwisz announced. The Polish archbishop gave no hint as to how many papers he has declined to burn. "He's clever to make this announcement," said the Polish source.

The source continued: "It's his way of saying, 'I have my hands on these papers, nobody knows what's in them'. There's a real danger that he could invent an order of John Paul's, leading to the promoting or firing of people, and there would be no way of checking it."

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