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Stanisław Dziwisz

His Eminence
Stanisław Dziwisz
Cardinal, Archbishop of Kraków
Province Kraków
See Kraków
Appointed 3 June 2005
Installed 27 August 2005
Predecessor Franciszek Macharski
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of San Maria del Popolo
Ordination 23 June 1963
by Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II)
Consecration 19 March 1998
by Pope John Paul II
Created Cardinal 24 March 2006
by Pope Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Stanisław Dziwisz
Born (1939-04-27) 27 April 1939
Raba Wyżna, Poland
Nationality Polish
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto Sursum corda (Lift up your hearts)
Coat of arms }

Stanisław Dziwisz (Polish pronunciation: ; born 27 April 1939) is a Polish prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He became Archbishop of Kraków in 2005, and was created a cardinal in 2006.[1] He was a long-time and influential aide to Pope John Paul II (he was one of the few people mentioned in the Pope's will, where he was thanked for his almost 40 years of service to the Pontiff), a friend of Pope Benedict XVI, and an ardent supporter of John Paul's eventual beatification.[2] Cardinal Dziwisz participated in his first Papal conclave in March 2013 in Rome.[3]


  • Early life, ordination, and priesthood 1
  • Bishop 2
  • Adjunct Prefect of the Papal Household 3
  • Death of John Paul II 4
  • Archbishop of Krakow 5
    • Cardinal 5.1
  • Recipient of award from Anti-Defamation League 6
  • Papal conclave of 2013 7
    • General Congregation of the College of Cardinals 7.1
  • The Passion of the Christ 8
  • Information on cooperating clergy 9
  • Influence on sainthood for Pope John Paul II 10
  • Decision on interment of president Lech Kaczyński in Wawel Cathedral 11
  • Maciel and Hans Groer involvement 12
    • Books 12.1
  • Bibliography of the Cardinal Dziwisz (in Polish language) 13
  • Resources 14
  • References 15

Early life, ordination, and priesthood

Dziwisz was born in the village of Raba Wyżna to Stanisław Dziwisz, a railroad worker, and his wife, Zofia Bielarczyk.[1] The fifth of seven children, he has four brothers and two sisters.[4] During World War II, the family hid a Jewish man in their house.[4] When the younger Stanisław was only nine, his father died after being struck by a train while crossing the railroad tracks.[4] He attended the classical Secondary School (Liceum) in Nowy Targ, passing the exam of maturity in 1957.[5]

Dziwisz then entered the Major Seminary of Kraków, where he completed his studies in philosophy and theology.[5] On 23 June 1963, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Kraków by its auxiliary bishop, Bishop Karol Wojtyła.[6] His first assignment was as a curate at a parish in Maków Podhalański, where he served for two years.[7] He then continued his studies at the Faculty of Theology of Kraków, specialising in liturgy and earning a Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1967.[5] In October 1966, he was appointed by Archbishop Wojtyła, who had since been elevated to Archbishop of Kraków, to serve as his personal secretary. Dziwisz remained in this position until Wojtyła's death in 2005.[8]

In addition to his duties as personal secretary to Archbishop Wojtyła, Dziwisz served as professor of liturgy at the Superior Catechetical Institute in Kraków, editor of the official newspaper of the archdiocesan curia, member and secretary of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, and a member of the Presbyteral Council.[7] He also participated in the work of the Committee for the Holy Year (1974–1975) and of the Pastoral Synod of Kraków (1972–1978).[5]

Dziwisz accompanied Cardinal Wojtyła to the papal conclave of August 1978, which resulted in the election of Pope John Paul I.[4] Following the death of John Paul I only thirty-three days later, he and Wojtyła returned to Rome for the next conclave, which elected Wojtyła himself as Pope John Paul II. Dziwisz was appointed as the new Pope's principal private secretary, and in that capacity he moved to the Vatican with the new pontiff. Dziwisz served as private secretary to the Pope throughout the entirety of John Paul II's twenty-seven year pontificate. During the first twenty years of his service in the Vatican, Dziwisz held only the title of principal private secretary, and remained a priest. In 1998 he was given the additional status of Adjunct Prefect of the Papal Household, and was raised to the episcopate.

In 1981 he earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from the Faculty of Theology of Kraków, with a thesis entitled: "The Cult of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop of Kraków, until the Council of Trent".[4]


Dziwisz was appointed titular bishop of San Leone and joint head of the Prefecture of the Papal Household on 7 February 1998. He was consecrated a bishop on 19 March of that year, the principal consecrator being Pope John Paul II, and the co-consecrators Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano and the then Cardinal-Archbishop of Kraków Franciszek Cardinal Macharski. John Paul II elevated Dziwisz to the rank of archbishop on 29 September 2003, still having the titular see of San Leone.

Adjunct Prefect of the Papal Household

He was best known as a member of the Prefecture of the Papal Household and for his nearly forty years of service as private secretary to John Paul II. John Paul and Dziwisz were said to have a father-son like relationship. Dziwisz slept in a bedroom next to that of John Paul's, was always near him during Mass, and was with him almost every waking moment. During John Paul's papacy Dziwisz became one of the most influential voices in the Vatican.

Death of John Paul II

Cardinal Dziwisz

As the health of John Paul declined, some speculated that Dziwisz, as one of John Paul's most trusted aides, may have been preparing the faithful for the worst. The Rome newspaper Il Messaggero reported that he mentioned his concern to another Polish priest. According to Vatican sources he told the priest, "Pray for the pope, because he's getting worse." [1]

On 31 March 2005 John Paul's condition became so serious Archbishop Dziwisz administered the Anointing of the Sick to him. Before the death of John Paul II, Dziwisz was reported to have helped him write a message to his staff not to grieve, that he (John Paul) was happy and that they should be too.

When John Paul died on 2 April 2005, Archbishop Dziwisz was at his bedside. According to rules created by John Paul, Dziwisz packed his belongings and vacated the papal apartments before they were sealed by the Camerlengo. It was believed that John Paul had hoped to appoint Archbishop Dziwisz as Archbishop of Kraków and elevate him to become a cardinal, a post and title the pope had held, but a vacancy did not occur before John Paul's death. Pope Benedict XVI named Dziwisz to the post of archbishop of Kraków, and later elevated him to cardinal.

During the Requiem Mass for John Paul on 8 April, Archbishop Dziwisz had the honour of placing a white silk veil over the face of the Pope before the body was lowered into three separate caskets. It was the symbolic last act of service of Archbishop Dziwisz as papal secretary for John Paul.

Archbishop of Krakow

On 3 June 2005 Benedict XVI appointed Dziwisz as successor to the retiring Cardinal Macharski as Archbishop of Kraków. It had been suggested that John Paul II had been grooming Dziwisz for the position and was merely waiting for Macharski to retire before making such an appointment. Benedict XVI is believed to have made the appointment in fulfilment of one of the last wishes of John Paul II.

Styles of
Stanisław Dziwisz
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal


At the consistory of 24 March 2006 Archbishop Dziwisz was raised to the cardinalate, becoming Cardinal-Priest of the Titulus S. Mariae de Populo. It is customary to name the bishops of certain important episcopal sees, such as Kraków, to the College of Cardinals. Dziwisz had also been mentioned as the possible secret cardinal in pectore appointed by John Paul II in 2003, but the pope took this secret to the grave. Dziwisz's elevation to the cardinalate will allow him to participate in any upcoming papal conclaves until his 80th birthday in 2019.

In May 2006 Pope Benedict named Cardinal Dziwisz to be a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

In 2012 Cardinal Dziwisz, as part of a broader trip, visited parishes with a significant Polish presence in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, in New Jersey, United States.

Recipient of award from Anti-Defamation League

On 26 May 2010, Cardinal Dziwisz was awarded the Cardinal Bea Interfaith Award of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. "Cardinal Dziwisz is a valued friend to the Jewish people and someone I know I can trust and turn to in moments of tension or controversy," said Abraham Foxman, President of the Anti-Defamation League.

Cardinal Dziwisz replied “As the Bishop of Krakow, I would like to assure all of you that the Catholic Church in Poland wants to follow the example of Pope John Paul II, and courageously uncover and reject everything which makes the life of the Polish Catholics depart from the Gospel,” said Cardinal Dziwisz. "For this reason, we note with shame that despite the unambiguous teachings of recent Popes on the appropriate attitudes of Catholics to Jews, many among us have not been able to overcome prejudices, inveterate resentments and harmful stereotypes."

Papal conclave of 2013

When Pope Benedict XVI decided to resign as Pope during February 2013, Cardinal Dziwisz said that Pope John Paul II had stayed on as Pope, despite failing health in the last decade of his life, because the Pontiff believed 'you cannot come down from the cross'.[9] On 11 February 2013 Benedict announced his resignation, effective 28 February 2013, for reasons of health. While not mentioned in the press 'papabili' list of cardinals considered to be the most plausible candidates for the papacy,[10] for 40 years Dziwisz was the private secretary to Karol Wojtyla as Cardinal and Pope, and was considered to have an 'outside chance' of election.

General Congregation of the College of Cardinals

Cardinal Dziwisz joined the College of Cardinals in Rome in March 2013 for a week of discussions on the problems of the church and who might lead it. On 8 March 2013 the College of Cardinals decided that Pope Francis by the conclave.

The Passion of the Christ

Dziwisz himself became embroiled in controversy over his role in a papal endorsement of The Passion of the Christ.[11]

Information on cooperating clergy

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz forbade a priest from revealing information on clerics cooperating with Communist secret services.[12]

Influence on sainthood for Pope John Paul II

Cardinal Dziwisz, after meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in early March 2007, asked in a conversation with a group of reporters in Rome whether beatification, a step that allows for 'local' devotion, was even necessary for a world figure like Pope John Paul II and inferred his influence could expedite the process for John Paul II to become a Catholic saint more quickly than Vatican protocol normally allowed.

"It is certainly possible to skip the beatification and immediately begin the canonization process. This is something the Holy Father can decide," Cardinal Dziwisz said.[13]

Decision on interment of president Lech Kaczyński in Wawel Cathedral

In April 2010 Cardinal Dziwisz decided the late Polish president Lech Kaczyński Death and state funeral of Lech and Maria Kaczyński in the Wawel Cathedral. The controversial decision led to protests throughout Poland. Cardinal Dziwisz later said that the idea came from the president's twin brother, former Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, and not him.[14]

Maciel and Hans Groer involvement

Dziwisz supported Roman Catholic priest Marcial Maciel Degollado of Mexico, the founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement. Author Jason Berry wrote Maciel spent years cultivating Vatican support by funneling money to the Vatican. Under Maciel, the Legion of Christ steered streams of money through Dziwisz to the pope and the Vatican designated for use in relation to the pope's private Masses in the Apostolic Palace.[15] Late in Maciel's life, he was revealed to have abused boys and fathered up to six children, two of whom he allegedly abused, with at least two women.

Dziwisz was instrumental in blocking an investigation into allegations of child abuse against the late Benedictine Cardinal of Vienna Hans Hermann Groer. Groer, who died in 2003, headed the Vienna archdiocese and presided over the influential Austrian episcopal conference. Groer, who always denied wrongdoing, was praised by Pope John Paul II as a faithful servant.[16]


  • A Life with Karol, Doubleday, 2008. ISBN 978-0-385-52374-5

Bibliography of the Cardinal Dziwisz (in Polish language)

  • Michał Pietrzak (oprac.), Kronika Parafii Raba Wyżna T. I, 1835–1993, Kraków – Raba Wyżna 2011.
  • T. Chmura, Z Raby Wyżnej przez Kraków na Watykan. Curriculum Vitae księdza biskupa Stanisława Dziwisza, [w:] „Analecta Cracoviesnia” XXX – XXXI 1998 – 1999, s. 9 – 22.
  • Gmina Raba Wyżna, zebrał i oprac. E. Siarka, Kraków – Michałowice 2004.


  • Archdiocese of Krakow
  • Catholic Hierarchy Profile of Stanisław Dziwisz
  • Catholic Pages


  1. ^ a b Michał Pietrzak (oprac.), Kronika Parafii Raba Wyżna T. I, 1835–1993, Kraków – Raba Wyżna 2011, s. 245–248.
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  4. ^ a b c d e
  5. ^ a b c d
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  7. ^ a b
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  10. ^ List of papabili in the 2013 papal conclave
  11. ^ The Passion of the Christ
  12. ^ Cardinal censures curious cleric
  13. ^
  14. ^,80708,7777653,Kardynal_Dziwisz_o_pochowku_na_Wawelu__Wysluchalem.html
  15. ^
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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Diego Lorenzi
Personal Papal secretary
16 October 1978 – 2 April 2005
Succeeded by
Georg Gänswein
New title Adjunct Prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household
7 February 1998 – 3 June 2005
Position disestablished
Preceded by
Jacques Maurice Faivre
Archbishop of San Leone
29 September 2003 – 3 June 2005
Succeeded by
Víctor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid
Preceded by
Franciszek Macharski
Archbishop of Kraków
3 June 2005 – present
Preceded by
Hyacinthe Thiandoum
Cardinal-Priest of San Maria del Popolo
24 March 2006 – present
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