This intimate, affectionate portrait of Pope John Paul II by his longtime secretary and confidant reveals fascinating new details about the opinions, hopes, fears, and dramatic life of this public man.
I had accompanied him for almost forty years: twelve in Krakow and then twenty-seven in Rome. I was always with him, always at his side. Now, in the moment of death, hed gone on alone. . . .And now? Who is accompanying him on the other side?
- From A Life with Karol
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz worked side by side with Pope John Paul II for almost forty years, enjoying unique access to both the public and private man. In A life with Karol, he provides a close-up glimpse into the Popes life and the critical events of his papacy.
Dziwisz was sitting next to the Pope during the assassination attempt in 1981. He recounts the Popes reaction to 9/11, describing his thoughts and feelings on that day. And the Cardinals moving description of the Popes haunting memories of World War II uncovers the roots of the pontiffs intense opposition to George W. Bushs war on Iraq.
The two men shared moments of fun and spontaneity as well. Dziwisz writes about the times the Pope would slip out of the Vatican, wearing a Panama hat, to stroll the streets of Rome, and he describes the clandestine ski and hiking trips the pair made to escape the Vatican. His firsthand account of the Popes last years also reveals that John Paul II considered resigning. These stories and others lend added poignancy to Dziwiszs extraordinary portrayal of the Popes courage and calmness during his final illness.
CARDINAL STANISLAW DZIWISZ was personal secretary to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) in Krakow and in Rome. He was ordained a priest in 1963, was appointed Archbishop of Krakow in 2005, and in 2006 was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope John Paul IIs personal secretary, who is now Cardinal Dziwisz, had an insiders view of many of the events that shaped John Paul IIs pontificate. Dziwisz was a seminary student in Krakow when he first encountered the man then known as Karol Wojtyla. He later became a close and trusted ally of the pope for four decades. The author does not hide his glowing opinion of the deceased pontiff; as he describes it, John Paul II stood courageously against the oppressive Communist regime in his native Poland, supported the nascent Solidarity movement and was beloved by people of all nations and religions around the globe. These two men enjoyed an intimate friendship and shared a love for Catholicism and their priesthood. Perhaps it is the closeness of that friendship that prevents Dziwisz from criticizing John Paul II for anything he did as pope. For example, his claim that "John Paul IIs entire pontificate was a continual implementation of Vatican II" is widely debated. Despite the hagiographical tone, one thing is clear-John Paul II was a formidable world figure in the latter half of the 20th century, and he never allowed his position to affect his ability to be a good friend. (Mar. 11)
- Publishers Weekly
As secretary for 40 years to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), Cardinal Dziwisz was privy to many of his thoughts and actions. This memorable account colorfully describes thoughts and stories that offer a firsthand glimpse into the popes life and his papacy. While it is not a substitute for Wojtylas own writings, its richly artistic canvas offers a context that makes it easier to appreciate biographies such as Witness to Hopeor comprehensive summaries like John Paul II For Dummies. Rich in emotional and psychological detail, this book well covers the Polish and the papal years. Not concerned with critics of his life or thought, Wojtyla is portrayed as a man with depth, sincerity, and a sense of mystery. Recommended for public libraries of all sizes; libraries with a limited budget and seeking to add two or three central works that convey a timeless sense of the man would do well to add this title.
- Leroy Hommerding - Library Journal