John Paul II Pays Tribute to Reagan

BERN, Switzerland, JUNE 6, 2004 ( John Paul II paid tribute to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, recalling his efforts to topple communism that «changed the lives of millions of people.»

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On his pilgrimage to Switzerland where he met with young people, the Pope learned of Reagan’s death with «sadness» and immediately prayed for the «eternal rest of his soul,» papal spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls said today. Reagan died Saturday in California at age 93.

The Holy Father and the Reagan White House worked closely in the 1980s in efforts to promote the Solidarity labor movement in Poland and to end the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, the Associated Press noted.

Navarro Valls’ statement said John Paul recalled Reagan’s contribution to «historical events that changed the lives of millions of people, mainly Europeans.»

On Friday, when President George Bush visited the Vatican, the Pope mentioned Reagan by name.

The Holy Father said in his address: «Our thoughts also turn today to the 20 years in which the Holy See and the United States have enjoyed formal diplomatic relations, established in 1984 under President Reagan. These relations have promoted mutual understanding on great issues of common interest and practical cooperation in different areas. I send my regards to President Reagan and to Mrs. Reagan, who is so attentive to him in his illness.»

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