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‘Heroic’ Krakow cardinal dies five days after Pope’s hospital visit

02 August 2016 | by Catholic News Service , Katherine Backler

The cardinal died today in hospital at 89 years of age

Cardinal Franciszek Macharski died this morning aged 89, not long after his namesake, the Pope, made an unscheduled visit to his hospital bed in Krakow. 

Cardinal Macharski succeeded Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Archbishop of Krakow after the latter became Pope John Paul II in 1978. He served as Archbishop until his resignation in 2005, then 78 years old.

In response to the news of the Cardinal’s death, Pope Francis offered a “prayer of thanksgiving for the life and pastoral commitment of this well-deserving minister of the Gospel”. 

Macharski’s Episcopal motto, ‘Jesus I trust in you’, was taken from St Faustina Kowalka’s Divine Mercy devotion. The devotion formed an important part of World Youth Day in this Year of Mercy.

“This Episcopal motto guided his life and ministry,” the Pope said. “In a period of political and social transformations that were not easy, he guided the Church in Kraków with wisdom.”

In an obituary for Catholic news site Crux, George Weigel, St Pope John Paul II’s biographer, said Cardinal Macharski was "bred to heroism" by a family who resolutely remained in Poland throughout the Nazi occupation.

In the early years of his archiepiscopacy, Macharski continually urged the regime of General Wojciech Jaruzelski to lift martial law, imposed on Poland in December 1981, and took secret messages between John Paul II and the imprisoned leaders of the Solidarity movement. Weigel described Macharski as “quiet but unflinchingly steadfast”.

After he retired in 2015, Cardinal Macharski lived with the Albertine Sisters in Krakow. Tonight, his body will be transported to the Holy Shrine of Ecce Homo of St Brother Albert, a Polish saint canonised in 1989 by St Pope John Paul II.



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