February 6, 2011 By

Pope John Paul II’s Dairy Reveals a Man Pained by Doubts

1_11The private diaries of John Paul II written over four decades were published on Wednesday, February 5 in Poland, his native land. The book, 640 pages in hardcover, is being published in Polish by Znak, a Krakow publishing house.

The collection of his personal notes provide an insight into the life of a person who was never content despite the stateliness of papacy and the star status among many Catholics always unconvinced whether he was worthy of being the pope. The handwritten notes, published as John Paul II: I am very much in God’s hands. Personal notes 1962-2003, are a series of his reflections rather than a daily diary.

Born as Karol Józef Wojtyla in southern Poland in 1920, he played a very active role in communist-era Poland and as pope. He entrusted his diaries to Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, his personal secretary for almost 40 years and now a cardinal in the southern city of Krakow, before he died instructing it to be burnt. In the foreword to the book, Dziwisz said that he did not have the courage to burn them because they had the key to understanding the pope’s private spiritual life and thoughts. “They reveal the other side of the person whom we knew as the pastor of the universal church,” wrote the cardinal, who was both praised and criticized in Polish Catholic circles after announcing the publication of the book last month.

Across the bottom of the page is written in Italian “Jonah, this is the fear of proclaiming the love of God”. The first signs of his questioning appear in comments from 1970 where he wrote: “Can the misfortunes of people close to me, which have happened recently, be seen as a punishment? As a sign? What can it mean?” “What language do I use when I speak to people?” he asked in 1974. “Do I proclaim the Gospel with complete conviction?”  In his last days, the entries were sparser due to his deteriorating health. The last entry in 2003 referred to the Biblical story of Jonah, who was ordered by God to preach his word but instead runs away.

John Paul, who led the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005, will be canonized at Vatican on April 27 and remains for many Catholics a towering model of faith and commitment.

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