Stanisław Dziwisz

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His Eminence
Stanisław Dziwisz
Cardinal, Archbishop emeritus of Kraków
Province Kraków
See Kraków
Appointed 3 June 2005
Installed 27 August 2005
Term ended 8 December 2016
Predecessor Franciszek Macharski
Successor Marek Jędraszewski
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria del Popolo
Ordination 23 June 1963
by Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II)
Consecration 19 March 1998
by Pope John Paul II
Created Cardinal 24 March 2006
by Pope Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Stanisław Dziwisz
Born (1939-04-27) 27 April 1939 (age 78)
Raba Wyżna, Poland
Nationality Polish
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto Sursum corda (Lift up your hearts)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Stanisław Dziwisz (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswav ˈdʑiviʂ];[1] born 27 April 1939) is a Polish prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Kraków from 2005 until 2016. He was created a cardinal in 2006. He was a long-time and influential aide to Pope John Paul II, a friend of Pope Benedict XVI, and an ardent supporter of John Paul's eventual beatification.[2]

Early life, ordination, and priesthood[edit]

Dziwisz was born in the village of Raba Wyżna to Stanisław Dziwisz, a railroad worker, and his wife, Zofia Bielarczyk.[3] The fifth of seven children, he has four brothers and two sisters.[4] During World War II, the family hid a Jewish man in their house.[4] When the younger Stanisław was only nine, his father died after being struck by a train while crossing the railroad tracks.[4] He attended the classical Secondary School (Liceum) in Nowy Targ, passing the exam of maturity in 1957.[5]

Dziwisz then entered the Major Seminary of Kraków, where he completed his studies in philosophy and theology.[5] On 23 June 1963, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Kraków by its auxiliary bishop, Bishop Karol Wojtyła.[6] His first assignment was as a curate at a parish in Maków Podhalański, where he served for two years.[7] He then continued his studies at the Faculty of Theology of Kraków, specialising in liturgy and earning a Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1967.[5] In October 1966, he was appointed by Archbishop Wojtyła, who had since been elevated to Archbishop of Kraków, to serve as his personal secretary. Dziwisz remained in this position until Wojtyła's death in 2005.[8]

In addition to his duties as personal secretary to Archbishop Wojtyła, Dziwisz served as professor of liturgy at the Superior Catechetical Institute in Kraków, editor of the official newspaper of the archdiocesan curia, member and secretary of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, and a member of the Presbyteral Council.[7] He also participated in the work of the Committee for the Holy Year (1974–1975) and of the Pastoral Synod of Kraków (1972–1978).[5]

Dziwisz accompanied Cardinal Wojtyła to the papal conclave of August 1978, which resulted in the election of Pope John Paul I.[4] Following the death of John Paul I only thirty-three days later, he and Wojtyła returned to Rome for the next conclave, which elected Wojtyła himself as Pope John Paul II. Dziwisz was appointed as the new Pope's principal private secretary, and in that capacity he moved to the Vatican with the new pontiff. Dziwisz served as private secretary to the Pope throughout the entirety of John Paul II's twenty-seven year pontificate. During the first twenty years of his service in the Vatican, Dziwisz held only the title of principal private secretary, and remained a priest. In 1998 he was given the additional status of Adjunct Prefect of the Papal Household, and was raised to the episcopate.

In 1981 he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from the Faculty of Theology of Kraków, with a thesis entitled "The Cult of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop of Kraków, until the Council of Trent".[4]

He was best known as a member of the Prefecture of the Papal Household and for his nearly forty years of service as private secretary to John Paul II. John Paul and Dziwisz were said to have a father-son like relationship. Dziwisz slept in a bedroom next to that of John Paul's, was always near him during Mass, and was with him almost every waking moment. During John Paul's papacy Dziwisz became one of the most influential voices in the Vatican.

Dziwisz was appointed titular bishop of San Leone and joint head of the Prefecture of the Papal Household on 7 February 1998. He was consecrated a bishop on 19 March of that year, the principal consecrator being Pope John Paul II, and the co-consecrators Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano and the then Cardinal-Archbishop of Kraków Franciszek Cardinal Macharski. John Paul II elevated Dziwisz to the rank of archbishop on 29 September 2003, still having the titular see of San Leone.

Death of John Paul II[edit]

Cardinal Dziwisz

As the health of John Paul declined, some speculated that Dziwisz, as one of John Paul's most trusted aides, may have been preparing the faithful for the worst. The Rome newspaper Il Messaggero reported that he mentioned his concern to another Polish priest. According to Vatican sources he told the priest, "Pray for the pope, because he's getting worse."[9] On 31 March 2005 Archbishop Dziwisz administered the Anointing of the Sick to him. Before the death of John Paul II, Dziwisz was reported to have helped him write a message to his staff not to grieve, that he (John Paul) was happy and that they should be too.[citation needed]

When John Paul died on 2 April 2005, Archbishop Dziwisz was at his bedside. According to rules created by John Paul, Dziwisz packed his belongings and vacated the papal apartments before they were sealed by the Camerlengo. During the Requiem Mass for John Paul on 8 April, Archbishop Dziwisz had the honour of placing a white silk veil over the face of the Pope before the body was lowered into three separate caskets. It was the symbolic last act of service of Archbishop Dziwisz as papal secretary for John Paul. He was one of the few people mentioned in the will of Pope John Paul II, who wrote: "and I thank him for his help and collaboration, so understanding for so many years".[10]

Archbishop of Krakow and cardinal[edit]

On 3 June 2005 Benedict XVI appointed Dziwisz as successor to Cardinal Macharski as Archbishop of Kraków.

Styles of
Stanisław Dziwisz
Coat of arms of Stanisław Dziwisz.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

At the consistory of 24 March 2006 Archbishop Dziwisz was raised to the cardinalate, becoming Cardinal-Priest of S. Mariae de Populo. Dziwisz had also been mentioned as the possible secret cardinal in pectore appointed by John Paul II in 2003, but the pope revealed no such appointment before his death.[11] Dziwisz is eligible to participate in papal conclaves until his 80th birthday in 2019.

In May 2006 Pope Benedict named Cardinal Dziwisz to be a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

In 2012 Cardinal Dziwisz, as part of a broader trip, visited parishes with a significant Polish presence in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, in the United States.[12]

After Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation as pope effective 28 February 2013 for reasons of health, Dziwisz said that Pope John Paul II had stayed on as pope despite failing health in the last decade of his life, because he believed "you cannot come down from the cross".[13] Cardinal Dziwisz participated in the papal conclave in March 2013, where he was thought to have an outside chance of election[citation needed] though he was not mentioned in the press as a likely candidate.

On 8 December 2016, Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Dziwisz' resignation as Archbishop of Krakow, and named Marek Jędraszewski, Archbishop of Łódź, to succeed him.[14]

Recipient of award from Anti-Defamation League[edit]

On 26 May 2010, Cardinal Dziwisz was awarded the Cardinal Bea Interfaith Award of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. "Cardinal Dziwisz is a valued friend to the Jewish people and someone I know I can trust and turn to in moments of tension or controversy," said Abraham Foxman, President of the Anti-Defamation League. Cardinal Dziwisz replied:[citation needed]

As the Bishop of Krakow, I would like to assure all of you that the Catholic Church in Poland wants to follow the example of Pope John Paul II, and courageously uncover and reject everything which makes the life of the Polish Catholics depart from the Gospel. For this reason, we note with shame that despite the unambiguous teachings of recent Popes on the appropriate attitudes of Catholics to Jews, many among us have not been able to overcome prejudices, inveterate resentments and harmful stereotypes.

The Passion of the Christ[edit]

Dziwisz himself became embroiled in controversy over his role in a papal endorsement of The Passion of the Christ.[15]

Information on cooperating clergy[edit]

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz forbade a priest from revealing information on clerics cooperating with Communist secret services.[16]

Influence on sainthood for Pope John Paul II[edit]

Cardinal Dziwisz, after meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in early March 2007, asked in a conversation with a group of reporters in Rome whether beatification, a step that allows for 'local' devotion, was even necessary for a world figure like Pope John Paul II and inferred his influence could expedite the process for John Paul II to become a Catholic saint more quickly than Vatican protocol normally allowed. "It is certainly possible to skip the beatification and immediately begin the canonization process. This is something the Holy Father can decide," Cardinal Dziwisz said.[17]

Maciel and Hans Groer involvement[edit]

Dziwisz supported Roman Catholic priest Marcial Maciel Degollado of Mexico, the founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement. Author Jason Berry wrote Maciel spent years cultivating Vatican support by funneling money to the Vatican. Under Maciel, the Legion of Christ steered streams of money through Dziwisz to the pope and the Vatican designated for use in relation to the pope's private Masses in the Apostolic Palace.[18] Late in Maciel's life, he was revealed to have abused boys and fathered up to six children, two of whom he allegedly abused, with at least two women.

Dziwisz was instrumental in blocking an investigation into allegations of child abuse against the late Benedictine Cardinal of Vienna Hans Hermann Groer. Groer, who died in 2003, headed the Vienna archdiocese and presided over the influential Austrian episcopal conference. Groer, who always denied wrongdoing, was praised by Pope John Paul II as a faithful servant.[19] The Roman Catholic bishops of Austria, however, were of a different opinion. On the occasion of their ad limina visit to Rome in 1998, the Austrian bishops informed the Pope that they, as a college of bishops, had reached moral certainty that the allegations against Cardinal Groer had a basis in truth.[20]



  1. ^ In isolation, Stanisław is pronounced [staˈɲiswaf].
  2. ^ Israely, Jeff (10 June 2002). "The Man Behind the Pope". Time Magazine. 
  3. ^ Pietrzak, Michał (2011). Kronika Parafii Raba Wyżna T. I, 1835–1993. Kraków: Raba Wyżna. pp. 245–248. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Dziwisz, Stanislaw (2008). A Life With Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope. Doubleday. 
  5. ^ a b c d "DZIWISZ, Stanisław". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. 
  6. ^ "Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 
  7. ^ a b "KS. KARDYNAŁ STANISŁAW DZIWISZ". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kraków. 
  8. ^ "DZIWISZ Card. Stanisław". Holy See. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Testament of the Holy Father John Paul II". The Holy See. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Boudreaux, Richard (7 April 2005). "Mystery Cardinal Will Never Be Able to Join Peers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  12. ^ McNab, Matthew (6 July 2012). "Polish Cardinal Dziwisz celebrates Mass in Bayonne, gives church a relic of Pope John Paul II". Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Pope's sudden resignation sends shockwaves through Church". Reuters. 11 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Pope Francis names new Archbishop for Krakow". Vatican Radio. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  15. ^ The Passion of the Christ
  16. ^ Cardinal censures curious cleric
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Catholic World News, 1 August 2004. Retrieved: 2016-04-09.

Further reading[edit]

  • Michał Pietrzak (oprac.), Kronika Parafii Raba Wyżna T. I, 1835–1993, Kraków – Raba Wyżna 2011.
  • T. Chmura, Z Raby Wyżnej przez Kraków na Watykan. Curriculum Vitae księdza biskupa Stanisława Dziwisza, [w:] „Analecta Cracoviesnia” XXX – XXXI 1998 – 1999, s. 9 – 22.
  • Gmina Raba Wyżna, zebrał i oprac. E. Siarka, Kraków – Michałowice 2004.

External resources[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Diego Lorenzi
Personal Papal secretary
16 October 1978 – 2 April 2005
Succeeded by
Georg Gänswein
New title Adjunct Prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household
7 February 1998 – 3 June 2005
Position disestablished
Preceded by
Jacques Maurice Faivre
Archbishop of San Leone
29 September 2003 – 3 June 2005
Succeeded by
Víctor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid
Preceded by
Franciszek Macharski
Archbishop of Kraków
3 June 2005 – 8 December 2016
Succeeded by
Marek Jędraszewski
Preceded by
Hyacinthe Thiandoum
Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria del Popolo
24 March 2006 – present