04/07/2005, 00.00
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Pope John Paul II's Will and Spiritual Testament released

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his last Will and Testament, Pope John Paul II reveals that he considered resigning from the papacy in 2000, after having led the Church into the third millennium.

The Pope writes that Divine Providence miraculously saved him from death in the 1981 attempt on his life and that the Lord extended his life, "in a certain way He gave it to me again. From that moment it belonged to Him even more. I hope He will help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service."

The Pope adds: "I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfil the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service."
The 15-page Will and Spiritual Testament was released today, but was written and added on over several years beginning on March 6, 1979, till March 12-18, 2000.

The Pope does not leave any property, but requests that all his personal notes be burnt under the supervision of his private secretary Archbishop Stanisław Dziwisz.

In 1982 he contemplated the possibility that his funerals might take place in Poland but in 1985 left the matter in the hands of the College of Cardinals who could, if they so desired, consult the General Council of the Bishops of Poland.

Throughout the document the Pontiff stressed his faith in Mary and God and reiterated that he is prepared to die.

In 1980 he writes: "The times in which we live are unutterably difficult and disturbed. The path of the Church has also become difficult and tense, a characteristic trial of these times—both for the Faithful and for Pastors."

"In some Countries (as, for example, in those about which I read during the spiritual exercises), the Church is undergoing a period of such persecution as to be in no way lesser than that of early centuries, indeed it surpasses them in its degree of cruelty and hatred. Sanguis martyrum – semen christianorum".

His realisation that he was fulfilling the role Cardinal Wyszynski prophesised for him ("to introduce the Church into the Third Millennium") came during the ecumenical mass opening the Jubilee Door in St Peter's, but especially in St Paul's Outside-the-Walls, that "has remained impressed in my memory in a special way."

John Paul II also remembers how "Divine Providence [ended] the period of the so-called 'cold war' without violent nuclear conflict."

In the document's last part, which was written in 2000, the Pope thanked all those he met: bishops, priests, laity, compatriots, people of other faiths as well as people from the world of culture and communication.

Among all the people he singles out Rome's former Chief Rabbi, Elio Toaff, whom he met in an historic visit to the eternal city's main synagogue in 1986.

"To all I want to say just one thing: "May God reward you."

"In manus Tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum" (Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit)".

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