VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2005 ( John Paul II made the world perceive the Church as an instrument of unity with God and among people, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said when receiving condolences from the diplomatic corps.

The condolences were presented today to all the cardinals by the ambassadors of the 172 countries that enjoy diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Also on hand were representatives of the Russian Federation, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Sovereign Order of Malta.

"John Paul II led the Church during more than 26 years, making it perceptible that, as the Second Vatican Council, she is at the same time a sign and instrument of profound union with God and of the unity of the whole of mankind," said the dean of the College of Cardinals.

The Polish Pope "introduced her in the third millennium, inviting Christians to take Christ to the world and inviting all people of good will to a new impetus of goodness, peace and solidarity," Cardinal Ratzinger added.

"He opened people's hearts and, in particular, that of young people, to the message of the Good News," he said.

The cardinal, who spoke in French, highlighted the international action promoted by the Bishop of Rome in favor of "peaceful solutions" and "dialogue."

"How many times did he invite leaders of nations to ever more concrete care for the peoples entrusted to them, in particular, the weakest, the littlest, the poorest?" the German prelate asked. "How many times did he remind us of the grandeur of human life?"

"These exhortations continue to resonate today as a commitment in favor of the human person, of every human person," the cardinal said.

They are "a call to be ever more at the service of peace and solidarity among all persons and peoples, at the service of men of all the continents, so that a reconciled humanity will emerge," he concluded.

Giovanni Galassi, ambassador of the republic of San Marino to the Holy See and dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited by the Vatican, spoke on behalf of the envoys, highlighting some of the key contributions of John Paul II's pontificate.

"Throughout his pontificate," Galassi said of John Paul II, "he considered man in his totality, in his temporal and transcendent aspects, with the objective of promoting a new civilization, more real and lasting: the civilization of love."