Dziwisz Defends Decision
John Paul II's longtime private secretary defended on Wednesday his decision not to burn the pope's papers as the pontiff's will instructed, saying the pope had given him a ``free hand'' in dealing with the materials.
Polish-born Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, 66, told reporters at his first news conference since being appointed archbishop of Krakow he was excited by the chance to serve in the late pontiff's former diocese.
Dziwisz, who served as John Paul's personal secretary at the Vatican for almost 27 years, recently admitted he had not burned any of John Paul's personal notes although the pope's will expressly stated Dziwisz should burn them.
"The Holy Father gave me an absolutely free hand on the matter," Dziwisz said. "It is my responsibility what to keep. And I absolutely don't see that anything should be burned, destroyed,'' he said. "I think this belongs to the Church, to the society and to the general culture."
Dziwisz, who only answered three questions at the news conference, did not explain the circumstances under which John Paul had conveyed to him the change of his will regarding the burning of his notes.
Dziwisz arrived Tuesday for an unofficial visit to his homeland, ahead of officially taking up his new post on Aug. 27.
John Paul suggested Dziwisz be appointed Archbishop of Krakow, a position he had held before he was appointed pope in 1978. John Paul made the suggestion during a meeting with Dziwisz's predecessor, Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, 78, who had asked to retire.
"A bishop must serve. That's why I would like to serve the whole society and especially my diocese, entrusted to me by Holy Father Benedict XVI," Dziwisz told reporters.
"I treat this visit as a pilgrimage, to meet my flock," he said.
Last month, Pope Benedict XVI announced he was lifting a five-year waiting period to start the process to beatify John Paul, the last formal step before the late pontiff could be made a saint.
Dziwisz said he could not confirm the beatification process would start on June 28.
"We would all like this beatification, canonization to take place quickly, but ... it takes time," he said.
On Saturday, Dziwisz suggested some of the notes he was refusing to burn could prove useful in the beatification process.