Praying for the Pope

Bishops Recall Contribution Made by John Paul II

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ROME, APRIL 2, 2005 ( Friday’s news of John Paul II’s impending death sparked off an outpouring of prayers by Catholics around the world.

Churches were filled with people praying for the Pope in masses and prayer vigils on Friday and Saturday.

«When the father suffers, the children suffer,» Bishop Angelo Comastri, the Pope’s vicar general for Vatican City said prior to leading the rosary in St Peter’s Square Friday night. «When the father dies, the children kneel and pray and tell him of their affection and their gratitude,» he continued, eloquently expressing the filial devotion towards John Paul II felt by many Catholics.

Also on Friday the archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, noted that prayers were being offered not only by Catholics and fellow Christians, but by «countless others who have grown to respect and admire this man, who has been in so many ways a witness and extraordinarily important moral voice for the world.»

In Scotland Cardinal Keith O’Brien noted: «Catholics in Scotland and around the world continue to be inspired by Pope John Paul II as he manages to bear daily testament to the gift of life, from its first beginnings until its natural end.»

Earlier today Ireland’s primate, Archbishop Sean Brady, celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh for the intentions of the Holy Father. He asked Catholics in Ireland to make Sunday a special day of prayer for John Paul II.

«The courage of the Holy Father in facing his current condition is an important moment in his teaching mission. Once again he reminds us of the dignity and value of human life through all its stages,» stated the archbishop in comments made after the mass. «In witnessing to this message, his voice has never been stronger. We pray that God will continue to give him serenity at this difficult time.»

Cuban cardinal in rare TV appearance

On Friday evening Cuban authorities permitted Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, to speak on television, to inform Cubans of the Pope’s state. According to Reuters it is only the second time the government has allowed Cardinal Ortega to address the population on television. The first occasion was just prior to the Pope’s 1998 visit to the country.

«This is a man who has carried the moral weight of the world for 26 years … turning himself into the only moral reference for humanity in recent years of wars and difficulties,» said Havana’s archbishop.

A declaration issued by Mexico’s bishops commented that while during his pontificate John Paul II was noted for his linguistic ability he is now speaking in a universal language, that of suffering. «The pains and tribulations that are now part of his passion, tomorrow will be the seed of faith for the Christian world,» the bishops stated.

Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia commented that the Pope, «has been a genuine man of the spirit, a true priest.»

Writing in Saturday’s Australian newspaper Cardinal Pell also recalled how he had been heartened and thrilled upon listening to the Pope’s sermon in his inaugural mass in 1978. «He has never lacked courage and courage is contagious,» the cardinal added.

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