St. John Paul II will be focus of Conversation with the Cardinals

New cathedral to host prelates who worked closely with beloved pope, who established our diocese

By Bill Brewer

Bishop Richard F. Stika is reconvening a team of princes of the Church for the next Conversation with the Cardinals, which will be held on Sunday, March 4, at 7 p.m. in the new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Bishop Stika said there is no better location for the program than the cathedral since the discussion will focus on Pope St. John Paul II, who created the Diocese of Knoxville in 1988.

Bishop Stika will emcee the program that will feature Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, and Cardinal William Levada.

The Conversation with the Cardinals is free and open to the public.

The three prelates worked with Pope John Paul II and witnessed his papacy firsthand as he captured the world’s attention by spreading the Gospel.

Cardinal Dziwisz served as the pope’s personal secretary from the time the pontiff was known as Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyla through his death in April 2005.

Like Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Dziwisz is from Poland.

Cardinal Dziwisz was present at the most exciting and critical times of Pope John Paul II’s papacy, including the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the pope’s historic travels throughout the world, his 14 papal encyclicals, and the assassination attempt by Mehmet Ali Agca.

In fact, when the pope was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, he slumped into the arms of Cardinal Dziwisz, which was captured in a now-famous photo.

Like Cardinal Dziwisz, Cardinal Rigali worked closely with Pope St. John Paul II, accompanying the pontiff on many of his international trips, serving in the Roman Curia in the Secretariat of State, as Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops and Secretary of the College of Cardinals. Pope John Paul II elevated Cardinal Rigali to archbishop and then to cardinal.

Cardinal Levada was named by Pope John Paul II to serve as archbishop of Portland, Ore., from 1986-1995 and as archbishop of San Francisco from 1995-2005.

He then served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Catholic Church’s chief theologian, under Pope Benedict XVI and was the highest-ranking American in the Roman Curia.

Also scheduled to take part in the Conversation with the Cardinals is Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican’s diplomatic representative to the United States whose title is papal nuncio.

Archbishop Pierre will be attending the Dedication Mass for the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as a representative of Pope Francis.

Bishop Stika launched the first Conversation with the Cardinal in September 2013 during the Eucharistic Congress. In that program, Bishop Stika and Cardinal Rigali engaged in a wide-ranging discussion about the Catholic Church, the Vatican, and Cardinal Rigali’s service in the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Rigali’s appearance in the first Conversation with the Cardinal occurred six months after he participated in the papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.

The second Conversation with the Cardinals was held April 18, 2015, at the Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville and featured Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, Cardinal Rigali, and Cardinal Levada, with Bishop Stika serving as emcee.

The next installment of the Conversation with the Cardinals is being held in conjunction with the dedication of the new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“The focus is going to be on Cardinal Dziwisz. For 90 minutes, we want to put into the hands of the people in attendance the papacy of Pope St. John Paul II through the eyes of Cardinal Dziwisz, which I think is a real blessing,” Bishop Stika said.

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