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June 4, 2005
No Extra White Smoke At The Vatican

Despite his expressed wishes to the contrary, John Paul the Great's secretary did not burn his personal notes, deeming them too valuable as historical documents for such destruction:

Pope John Paul II's longtime private secretary said Saturday he did not burn the late pontiff's notes as his will demanded, arguing that the papers contain "great riches" and should instead be preserved.

Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who worked with the pope from 1966 until his death earlier this year, told Polish state radio there are "quite a lot of manuscripts on various issues," but he offered no details.

"Nothing has been burned," Dziwisz said. "Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations every single sentence."

"These are great riches that should gradually be made available to the public."

Personally, this news gladdens my heart. When I first heard that John Paul II had asked for the destruction of the notes, I understood his motivations but mourned for the added loss to history of his personal perspective on more than a quarter-century of world history, on which John Paul had such impact. I thought it would be akin to Winston Churchill having his six-volume history of World War II burnt when he lost the elections of 1945 instead of publishing them.

On the other hand, Catholic priests take an oath of obedience, and I a somewhat surprised that Dziwisz would have resisted his former boss' wishes. Perhaps because it came as a request, Dziwisz felt that he had the option of disobedience in this instance. Obviously, Pope Benedict has decided to overlook this transgression, if it can be called that, as he has named Dziwisz to John Paul's old bishopric in Krakow for his next assignment -- a truly worthy office for a loyal aide to the last Pope.

I look forward to the release of these notes, and am thankful they survived.

UPDATE: Krakow, not Warsaw, as CQ reader Joe K points out. It was correct in the AP story; I just took it down wrong. I've corrected it above.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 4, 2005 10:22 AM

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