What Church Leaders Say About the Pope

«A Most Worthy Successor of the Humble Fisherman of Galilee»

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ROME, APRIL 9, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- Throughout the week, praise for the person of John Paul II came from many corners, including the political realm. Below is a sampling of what world leader said about the late Pope.

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Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston

«In the Holy Year of 2000, the Holy Father called for all to ‘Open Wide the Doors to Christ,’ to follow Christ not out of obligation but out of love. Pope John Paul II’s life mirrored this call as each day he opened himself to being an instrument of unapologetic truth on moral and ethical issues facing our culture. I pray that the Lord will grant grace upon grace to his faithful servant and will welcome him into the eternal light and peace of God’s heavenly kingdom.»

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Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York

«He carried the Gospel into all corners of the world, proclaiming the dignity of every human being, the rights of the poor, and the evils of war ‘in season and out of season.’ In brief, he was a most worthy successor of the humble fisherman of Galilee upon whom the Lord built his Church.»

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Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago

«Moral authority comes from office, but also from character. Karol Wojtyla was a survivor of Nazi-occupied Poland and its Communist successor government. He was a sportsman, an actor, a philosopher, and a poet. All of that captured people’s imagination in a novel way, and he used all that he was to direct attention beyond himself to the One whose vicar he had become. In the past few years, he drew attention to Christ through his public fortitude in his sufferings, which conformed him personally ever more closely to Christ.»

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Archbishop Charles Chaput, archbishop of Denver

«Pope John Paul II embodied the greatest qualities of the Second Vatican Council: a deep fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Gospel; profound confidence and joy in the Catholic faith; an openness to the good in the world; fraternal love for other Christians and the Jewish people; and a respect for all persons of good will. He knew personal suffering throughout his life. He experienced the cost of war, genocide and political oppression firsthand. These things never dented his faith. They did the opposite. They led him more deeply into the heart of God.»

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Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia

«It was with deep sadness that I received the news of Pope John Paul II’s passing. It was also with gratitude to God for the gift of the Holy Father. He will surely be remembered as the greatest spiritual leader of our time. His entire life was an example of how to live out our faith, how to give witness to the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Father gave himself completely in service to Jesus and to the universal Church. In his final years, he suffered from many physical ailments but he never allowed those pains and problems to weigh down his spirit; his suffering was his final gift. He was an example to us all of the value of human life at every stage of existence.»

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Archbishop Brendan O’Brien, president of the Canadian bishops’ conference

«Through both word and example he taught the strength of faith, the power of prayer, the need to forgive, and the imperative of serving the poor and oppressed of the world. His teachings will continue to guide the Church in the years ahead in its mission of proclaiming the Reign of God.»

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Caritas Internationalis

«Throughout his life, Pope John Paul II responded with compassion to the problems of the world, and inspired us with his dedication to the people we serve — the poor, the hungry, the displaced and all those who cry out for justice and an end to suffering. His words grace the walls of museums and slums alike, inspiring both the wealthy and poor with his message of hope.»

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Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney

«He has been a genuine man of the spirit, a true priest. His example and teaching have encouraged orthodox Catholics everywhere to persevere. I personally can vouch for that. He has inspired thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, into the priesthood and religious life.

«Even in the West he has steadied the ship. If many were still resolved to be irresolute, solid only for drift, there has been no doubt about where he is heading. He has never lacked courage and courage is contagious. History will know him as John Paul the Great. He has earned that distinction.»

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster

«We have lost a great leader of our modern world. John Paul II was an extraordinary man, one of the greatest popes in the Church’s 2,000-year history. We will remember him for his tireless witness to hope, to freedom, and to the dignity of human life. We will remember him for his courage in reaching across the boundaries of race, religion and ideology; we will remember him for his energy, as well as for his courageous endurance of physical suffering right until the end.

«John Paul II was always conscious of the drama of human salvation; he reminded us, tirelessly, of our eternal destiny. He showed, in his own life, how human beings are at their greatest and most free when they are most obedient to God’s will. His was a light that burned most strongly wherever the darkness was deepest. The Church will miss him. The world will miss him. I will miss him.»

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Archbishop Sean Brady, archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland

«He was a man of our time, yet not afraid to challenge the culture and values of our age. He gave it reasons for living and reasons for hope. He was also ahead of our time in his message of global solidarity, his vision of a civilization of love among all the people and nations of the world, in his respect for the human person and, to the very moment of his death, in his powerful witness to the Gospel of life. He was in every sense a witness to hope and a champion of life.

«The deep sense of peace and serenity which accompanied him into death, was of course, rooted in his life of frequent prayer and contemplation, particularly his prayer before the blessed sacrament. His deep and intimate relationship with Christ was the source of his great calm and courage in the face of so many challenges, not least the physical challenges of his later years. He often repeated the words of Jesus, ‘Do not be afraid.'»

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Italian bishops’ conference

«We ask everyone to gather themselves in prayer so that the Pope, who from the beginning of his pontificate invited us to open the doors to Christ, may now receive the embrace of Him, the Lord of life, who he announced in such an indefatigable way to all men and in every corner of the Earth. Our prayer becomes also an expression of gratitude to God, for the extraordinary gift he made to the Church and the world through the person and teachings of John Paul II.»

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Spanish bishops’ conference

«We all owe him deep gratitude for his faithful and unconditional dedication to the cause of the Gospel and to the mission received from Our Lord to confirm his brothers in the faith. His abnegated apostolic service became even more evident, if this were possible, in his suffering and sickness. Today, Catholics in the whole world, thanks to his ministry, feel stronger in our faith in Jesus Christ, more inspired by the hope of Glory and more decided in the charity that makes us sons of God and brothers to all men.»

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Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community

«As the Servant of the servants of God, Pope John Paul II was a pope of universal vision in his teaching and in his pastoral outreach. He was a Pope for the globalizing world; he proclaimed the universal message of Christ as the sour
ce of true hope for humanity. His vision of human dignity — rooted in the person of Jesus Christ, in whom God lived, suffered, died and rose from the dead — was inextricably linked to the common good of all of humanity. Through this vision he sought to build bridges between peoples everywhere. He took particular pains to deepen ecumenical understanding between the Christian confessions, as well as to promote and strengthen interfaith relations.»

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Mexican bishops’ conference

«The bishops of Mexico feel along with the whole Church a profound sorrow for the death of the Holy Father. However, with faith we proclaim with joy the happy passing to God’s embrace. We are also thankful for the grace-filled treasure of this pastor, who from his first visit to our country, unleashed a process of pastoral dynamism that has enormously strengthened us.»

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Cardinal Jaime Sin, retired archbishop of Manila, Philippines

«The Church has lost a Father and a Shepherd and I have also lost a brother and a good friend.»
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Archbishop Evarist Pinto, archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan

The Pontiff was a «beloved father and kind-hearted pastor, a charismatic and dynamic leader, a champion for justice and human rights, the defender of the poor and the oppressed.»

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Bishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong

«Farewell to a great and beloved world wide spiritual leader. To witness to the truth is the fundamental mission of the Church … the Holy Father courageously preached the Gospel of life emphasizing the sacredness of marriage and the importance of family. He defended each human life from conception to its natural end. My feeling at this moment is one of deep gratitude and lofty praise to the Lord. He worked marvels through this Pope from far off Poland. Certainly one of his regrets was not having had the chance to visit China. …

«Dear Holy Father, now that you are with the Father in heaven, bless your flock in China. May the suffering on your deathbed complete your prayers and obtain the grace that the Chinese people may one day know Jesus Christ and be converted to God.»

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Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana

«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.»

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Southern African Catholic bishops’ conference

«With great sadness we mourn the death of John Paul II, while we are profoundly grateful for the many results that the Lord our God has attained through his tireless efforts to bring people closer to God and one closer to the other.»

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Gregorius III Lahham, Greek Melkite patriarch of Damascus

The Pontiff was a «new John the Baptist» because like the original one he was «a voice who cried in the desert to prepare the ways of the Lord; he wiped hypocrisy and sin before our Risen Lord.»

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