Assassination attempt, legacy of John Paul II among topics at Conversation with the Cardinals on March 4

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Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz holds photo of Pope St. John Paul II. Photo: Catholic News Service

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II entered St. Peter’s Square standing inside an uncovered white jeep being driven through a crowd of people gathered to witness his weekly public appearance. Riding inside the same jeep, and sitting directly behind the Holy Father, was Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, then a priest-secretary to the pope. Within minutes of entering the square, with John Paul II leaning out to shake hands with the faithful on a brilliant sunny day, a man leaped forward and fired multiple gunshots at John Paul from close range. The pope was struck four times and slumped backwards into the arms of Father Dziwisz. A photo of the priest-secretary cradling the wounded Holy Father has been seen by millions. 


What: Conversation with the Cardinals
When: Sunday, March 4 at 7 p.m.
Where: Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Knoxville
Admission: Free and open to all


On Sunday, March 4, His Eminence Cardinal Dziwisz will be in Knoxville and will recount and reflect on one of the most dramatic moments in world history when he joins Bishop Richard F. Stika and three other prominent Catholic prelates for Conversation with the Cardinals to be held inside the new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus beginning at 7 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. 

Cardinal Dziwisz served as Pope St. John Paul’s personal secretary for nearly 40 years. He was with the Holy Father during the assassination attempt, which the pope miraculously survived, and also worked with John Paul on his many papal visits around the world. He was at the pope’s bedside when the Holy Father died in 2005.  

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States

In late 2017, Cardinal Dziwisz, who later became the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, accepted Bishop Stika’s invitation to attend the dedication Mass for the new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In addition to his participation in the Conversation with the Cardinals, Cardinal Dziwisz will join in the celebration of the Mass of Dedication for the new cathedral and will also celebrate a Mass for the Polish community in Knoxville and surrounding dioceses on Sunday, March 4 at 3 p.m. 

Joining Cardinal Dziwisz and Bishop Stika on the Conversation with the Cardinals panel will be Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican’s official diplomatic ambassador to the United States known as the Apostolic Nuncio; Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former Archbishop of St. Louis and Philadelphia who also worked in Rome serving five different popes– including John Paul II; and Cardinal William Levada, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Archbishop of Portland, Ore. and San Francisco.

Conversation with the Cardinals should offer all those in attendance a rare opportunity to witness, through the eyes of these distinguished guests, the historic papacy as well as the holiness of a saint of the Catholic Church, Pope St. John Paul II.

The program will begin at 7 p.m.  It will not be available on the internet. 

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