Pope's spiritual testament reflects communist persecution

In his spiritual testament, Pope John Paul II reflected on the communist persecution of the church, the attempt to assassinate him, the fall of the Iron Curtain and his own aging.

As his 80th birthday approached in 2000, he said he considered resigning and hoped God would show him when it was time for his ministry as head of the Catholic Church to end.

The College of Cardinals released an Italian translation of the Polish text yesterday.

The pope's final spiritual message to the church was written during his annual Lenten retreats in seven different years, beginning in 1979 and ending in 2000.

In almost every entry, including the first when he was 58 years old, Pope John Paul said he was prepared to die.

"'Watch, because you know not the day your Lord will come' -- these words remind me that the final call will come when the Lord wants," he wrote in the first entry, dated March 6, 1979.

In an undated entry before March 1980, the pope wrote, "I express my profound trust that, despite all my weaknesses, the Lord will give me every grace to face any task, trial and suffering that he asks of his servant in the course of his life."

The last and the longest entry by far was written during the Holy Year 2000, when he said that he had been prepared to lead the church into the new millennium.

"According to the designs of providence, I have lived in the difficult century that is ending and now, in the year that I will turn 80 years old, one must ask if it is not the time to repeat with the biblical Simeon: 'Nunc dimittis,'" the Latin phrase beginning his prayer to the Lord, "May you let your servant go in peace."

In spiritual testament, pope reflects on communist persecution, aging (Catholic News Service 7/4/05)
Mgr Capalla: The Pope's legacy for the Philippines: a culture of life and missionary zeal (AsiaNews.it 7/4/05)
The Pope's love shall make the Church blossom in China (AsiaNews.it 7/4/05)
Pope John Paul II's Will and Spiritual Testament released (AsiaNews.it 7/4/05)
In spiritual testament, pope reflects on communist persecution, aging (Catholic News Service 7/4/05)
Vatican releases Pope's testament: moving reflexion on life, death and Christ's Salvation (Catholic News Agency 7/4/05)
John Paul II considered resigning from papacy (Catholic World News 7/4/05)
Pope Wrote He Considered Resigning in 2000 (The Guardian/Associated Press 7/4/05)
Text of Pope's Last Will and Testament (The Guardian/Associated Press 7/4/05)
Pope's will 'mostly spiritual' (news.com.au 7/4/05)
Millions Mass for Pope as Last Will Released (Reuters 7/4/05)
Pope's Will Indicates He Considered Resigning (Reuters 7/4/05)
Mystery surrounds John Paul's final hours (The Age 8/4/05)
Spiritual outweighs the material (Sydney Morning Herald 8/4/05)
Doubt cast on dying message (The Age 8/4/05)
Will shows John Paul considered retiring (The Age 8/4/05)
Briefing on Pope's Testament and Date of Conclave (Zenit 6/4/05 - temporary url)

8 Apr 2005