Auckland Bishop Says Pope Presides From the Cross

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, SEPT. 20, 2004 ( Though physically ailing, John Paul II might well be experiencing the greatest days of his pontificate, says a bishop who recently visited him.

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In a statement in the wake of the New Zealand prelates’ five-yearly visit to Rome, Bishop Patrick Dunn of Auckland said of the Pope: “Although his eyes are bright and piercing, he is indubitably frail, and has not walked in public for over a year. His condition makes it an effort for him to talk, and at times even to swallow.”

“It seems that Pope John Paul II now presides over the universal Church from his place upon Christ’s cross,” said Bishop Dunn, who traveled with seven other prelates to Rome.

“We bishops in Rome had the sense that this outstanding Pope, now so manifestly crippled and paralyzed by illness, is perhaps at this time living out the greatest days of his extraordinary pontificate,” the Auckland prelate added.

London-born Bishop Dunn, 54, recalled that the Pope asked the prelates to continue to proclaim “the splendor of Christ’s truth.”

“We bishops found the Pope’s message immensely encouraging and helpful,” he said. Bishop Dunn appealed to New Zealand’s Catholics to “keep him in your prayers.”

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