Rome Rabbi One of 2 Living People Mentioned in Pope's Will

Former chief rabbi Elio Toaff hosted John Paul II during the pontiff's first visit to a synagogue in 1986.

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VATICAN CITY - Rome's former chief rabbi is one of only two living people mentioned in Pope John Paul II's will.

The document mentions "the rabbi of Rome" - a reference to the former Emeritus Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff, who hosted John Paul during the pontiff's historic visit to Rome's central synagogue in 1986. It was the first time a pope had ever visited a synagogue. Toaff paid his respects at John Paul's body on Monday, raising his arm in a gesture of tribute.

Also mentioned was the pope's personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who he thanked profusely for his years of service.

Israel Radio reported Thursday that Israeli singer Achinoam Nini will be the only performer at the late pope's funeral Friday. Nini, who is known outside of Israel as Noa, sang "Ave Maria" for the pontiff at the Vatican in 1994.

Israel will be represented at the funeral by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yeshuv Cohen will also attend.

In his last will and testament, the pope suggested that he considered the possibility of resigning in 2000, at a time when he was already ailing and when the Roman Catholic Church began its new millennium.

The document, which the Vatican released Thursday, also said he had left no material property and had asked that all his personal notes be burned.

The pope indicated he had considered the possibility of a funeral in Poland, but later left it up to the College of Cardinals to decide. The pope will be buried under St. Peter's Basilica on Friday after a funeral in the square.

John Paul wrote the highly personal will over the course of his 26-year pontificate, starting in 1979, the year after he was elected. The last entry was in 2000, the year he turned 80. It was written in his native Polish and translated by the Vatican into Italian.

Each entry was written during Lent, a period of reflection during the church calendar that precedes Easter.

Writing in 2000, the pope suggested the time was one of apparent torment for him, mentioning the 1981 attempt on his life. He called his survival a "miracle."

He said he hoped the Lord "would help me to recognize how long I must continue this service to which he called me the day of 16 October, 1978."

He also prayed at the time that he would have the "necessary strength" to continue his mission as long as he was serving as pope.

John Paul called for the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council to continue, calling them "the great gift."

"I am convinced that still, it will be given to the new generations to draw on the richness that this council of the 20th century has granted us," he wrote.

John Paul left it to Dziwisz to dispose of any personal goods.

"I'm not leaving behind any property of which it should be necessary to take care of," he wrote. "Everyday items can be given out as it is seen opportune. Personal notes should be burned."

"I ask that Don Stanislaw watch over this, whom I thank for the cooperation and understanding help for so many years," the late pontiff wrote.

"All the other thank yous I leave in my heart before God himself, because it's hard to express them."



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