By CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI
Associated Press Writer
KRAKOW, Poland (AP) - John Paul II's longtime private secretary defended on Wednesday his decision not to burn the pope's papers as the pontiff's will instructed, saying the pope had given him a ``free hand'' in dealing with the materials.
Polish-born Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, 66, told reporters at his first news conference since being appointed archbishop of Krakow he was excited by the chance to serve in the late pontiff's former diocese.
Dziwisz, who served as John Paul's personal secretary at the Vatican for almost 27 years, recently admitted he had not burned any of John Paul's personal notes although the pope's will expressly stated Dziwisz should burn them.
``The Holy Father gave me an absolutely free hand on the matter,'' Dziwisz said. ``It is my responsibility what to keep. And I absolutely don't see that anything should be burned, destroyed,'' he said. ``I think this belongs to the Church, to the society and to the general culture.''
Dziwisz, who only answered three questions at the news conference, did not explain the circumstances under which John Paul had conveyed to him the change of his will regarding the burning of his notes. . . .