What Leaders in Other Faiths Say

“An Extraordinary ‘Lived Sermon’ for Eastertide”

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ROME, APRIL 9, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- Accolades for John Paul II came from many non-Catholics, as this sampling shows.

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Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles

“No Pope did more for the Jews.”

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New York Board of Rabbis

“We will lovingly remember his historic visits to the Great Synagogue in Rome, a concentration camp in Auschwitz (Poland) and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, as he stood with us in spiritual solidarity. Declaring anti-Semitism a sin against God and humanity, the Pope repeatedly reminded the world that we could never again remain silent while people perish because of their race or religion.”

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Rowan Williams, Anglican archbishop of Canterbury

“I think in these past few days, we’ve seen an extraordinary ‘lived sermon’ for Eastertide, about facing death with honesty and courage; facing death in the hope of a relationship which is not broken by death but continues beyond it. Pope John Paul showed his character in the way in which he met his death; clearly frustrated, clearly suffering, and yet at every point accepting; facing his frailties and remaining courageous and hopeful. I feel there’s a certain appropriateness about the fact that he died within the Easter season — a time of the Church’s year which meant so much to him. It has been a season in which he was able to give a message to the whole of the Christian world, and in fact to the whole human world, that won’t be readily forgotten.”

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Billy Graham, U.S. evangelist

Pope John Paul II was “unquestionably the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years. He was convinced that the complex problems of our world are ultimately moral and spiritual in nature, and only Christ can set us free from the shackles of sin and greed and violence.”

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Mark Hanson, president of the Lutheran World Federation

“Lutherans will always remember John Paul II as the pope who fostered an unprecedented growth in Lutheran/Roman Catholic relations. Healing the wounds laid bare during the 16th-century Reformation took on new meaning as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was signed in 1999. We live in new hope that the Spirit of the Living Christ will continue that work and bring about an even stronger relationship between the two church bodies.”

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Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission

“He rallied the captive nations of Eastern Europe to throw off the yoke of Soviet communism. Furthermore, he emerged as one of the most eloquent spokesmen anywhere in the world for religious freedom for all human beings as a universal right, and for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death and everywhere in between.”

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The Reverend Frank Griswold, leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church

“Like the householder in the Gospel he was able to bring out of the treasure of his own deep spirit things ‘both new and old.’ His voice and moral authority gave inspiration and hope to millions well beyond the Roman Catholic Church. His commitment to the unity of the church expressed itself in his personal willingness to meet with representatives of other faith communities and to invite those outside his own tradition to reflect on how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be of greater service both in the cause of Christian unity and the well-being of the world.” — — —

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals

“Pope John Paul II has stood with us strongly all over the free world in defending heterosexual, monogamous marriage and defending the fact that a fetus is a human being.”

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The Dalai Lama

“In spite of increasing age and declining physical health, his relentless efforts to visit different parts of the world and meet the people who lived there to promote harmony and spiritual values, exemplified not only his deep concern but also the courage he brought to fulfilling it.”

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Patriarch Alexy II, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church

“Pope John Paul personally, and his works and ideas, have had a strong impact on the world.”

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians

“Pope John Paul II envisioned the restoration of the unity of the Christians and he worked for its realization.”

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Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate

“The last days of John Paul II were marked by qualities, which have gained him respect of all people. He endured his sufferings with strong faith, thus making millions of people to admire his courage. I sincerely hope that his memory will serve the cause of building up good relations between our Churches and will be the pledge for overcoming the present difficulties. I pray to the Lord Jesus Christ for the repose of the soul of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.”

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Pope Shenouda III, Coptic Church

“I would like to extend to you my most heartfelt sympathies on the death of H.H. Pope John Paul II after he guided the Church throughout 26 years. During this period he was highly respected and honored by the peoples of the whole world. He was also highly praised for his personal qualities and his participation in the ecumenical work and the relationship between the Catholic Church and the rest of the churches of the world.”

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Clifton Kirkpatrick, president, World Alliance of Reformed Churches

“We give thanks to God for the impact Pope John Paul II has made in his lifetime as a leader. We give thanks for a ministry in which, as a priest, bishop, and head of the Roman Catholic Church, he sought to bear witness to the Gospel in the contemporary world.”

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Catholicos Aram I, World Council of Churches central committee moderator

“His Holiness Pope John Paul II will remain an outstanding figure in the modern history of world Christendom. In fact, his relentless effort to make the Gospel of Christ a living reality in the life of people, his unyielding prophetic witness to make the moral values the guiding principles of human societies, his firm commitment to the cause of Christian unity, his openness to other religions with a clear vision of living together as a reconciled community in the midst of diversities, and his continuous advocacy for justice, human rights and freedom made him an exceptional figure of great achievements. As moderator of the World Council of Churches central committee and as the Armenian Catholicos of Cilicia, I had the privilege to meet His Holiness on different occasions and witnessed the strength of his faith, the depth of his wisdom and the clarity of his vision.”

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John Neill, Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin

“His vision for the healing of the divisions of Christendom was lived out at a difficult time on the ecumenical journey — when we had passed beyond the euphoria of the friendship arising from Vatican II — and were at the more difficult stage of looking at not only what unites, but trying to understand somewhat more of what divides. It was often simply the friendship and warmth of John Paul II that allowed differences to remain differences between brothers and sisters in Christ — family differences.”

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Reverend Dr. Keith Clements, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches

“For the churches and peoples of Europe John Paul II was a figure of special significance. As a son of Poland he bore in his own life so much of the most tragic experience of Europe in the twentieth
century brought by war and oppression, first under Nazi occupation and then under communist totalitarianism. Equally, under these experiences he embodied the finest spirit of European Christianity in refusing to compromise either his faith or his humanity.

“As a leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland it was he who did so much to inspire the cause of freedom and human rights both in his native country and further afield in Eastern Europe. His place in the history of change in Europe during the last quarter of the 20th century is secure. So too is his record during his long pontificate, of advocating the cause of greater European unity, the building of a “common European house” in which the Christianity of both east and west has to share.”

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