WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference remarked that, “At the very center of his being, Pope John Paul II was a priest and pastor.”
In a statement released Saturday after the death of the Holy Father, Spokane Bishop William Skylstad added: “As Pope John Paul enters the fullness of eternal life we celebrate, as people of faith, his truly remarkable life.”
In his statement, Bishop Skylstad emphasized John Paul II’s contribution to implementing the Church’s Second Vatican Council; his impact on world affairs, including the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe; and his ecumenical and interfaith endeavors, especially with regard to the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Jews.
Bishop Skylstad also called attention to John Paul II’s proclamation of “the importance of protecting human life from conception to natural death,” his opposition to the death penalty, and his defense of the rights of workers and of the poor.
He called John Paul II “a voice for the voiceless and the vulnerable” and “a friend to humanity.”
Bishop Skylstad praised the pontiff as “a great teacher” who had written an “extraordinary series of encyclicals” and who, out of his concern that “all the people of the Church have a clear understanding of the faith,” oversaw the development of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The statement also highlighted the care that John Paul II had for youth, manifested in the celebration of World Youth Days around the world, and for the elderly and infirm to whom he was been an inspiration “as his own physical limitations mounted.”