Pope Francis Pays Tribute to ‘Courageous’ Cardinal Who Was Close to St. John Paul II

Cardinal Jaworski died Sept. 5, two weeks after his 94th birthday.

Cardinal Marian Jaworski
Cardinal Marian Jaworski (photo: Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP / Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis paid tribute Monday to a cardinal whose life was intertwined with that of St. John Paul II.

The pope said in a telegram Sept. 7 that Cardinal Marian Jaworski would be remembered as an “extraordinarily just, sincere, courageous man who, above all, loved the Church.” 

“He left a worthy testimony of priestly zeal, of erudition, of fidelity to the Gospel and of responsibility for the community of believers,” the pope wrote.

Cardinal Jaworski died Sept. 5, two weeks after his 94th birthday. He was the first rector of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Kraków. Later, as the archbishop of Lviv, he helped to restore the Catholic Church in Ukraine following the collapse of communism. 

The pope’s condolence message was addressed to Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Kraków, the Polish city where Cardinal Jaworski died and was an honorary citizen.

Pope Francis recalled the close ties between Cardinal Jaworski and Pope John Paul II.

“He was the close friend of St. John Paul II. He supported him in the labors of his episcopal and papal ministry. He also administered the Sacrament of Anointing to the dying pope,” he wrote.

Cardinal Jaworski became friends with Karol Wojtyła, the future pope, after his priestly ordination in 1950. When Wojtyła was named a cardinal in 1967, Cardinal Jaworski agreed to replace him at an event in Olsztyn. But while traveling to the Polish city, Cardinal Jaworski lost his left hand in a train crash. Wojtyła was reportedly deeply affected by the accident. 

Pope Francis noted that both he and Cardinal Jaworski received their red hats at the same consistory in 2001. Three years earlier, John Paul II had named Cardinal Jaworski a cardinal in pectore, meaning that the appointment was initially kept secret.

In his condolence telegram, the pope also highlighted Cardinal Jaworski’s intellectual achievements, recalling that he served as a professor of theology and philosophy in Warsaw, Kraków and Lviv, and built up the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Kraków.

He added that Cardinal Jaworski’s episcopal motto, Mihi vivere Christus est (“For me to live is Christ”), from Philippians 1:21, had defined his way of thinking and decision-making. 

The pope concluded: “May the merciful Christ, to whom Cardinal Marian dedicated his life, receive him in his glory.”