ROME, OCT. 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A sense of John Paul II’s wide appeal could be seen in the praise from British circles that greeted his 25th anniversary.
“John Paul Deserves the Title Great,” read a headline in London’s Financial Times today. After noting the opposition the Holy Father has faced during his pontificate, Gerard Baker wrote in a commentary: “This combative, compassionate priest has an unmatched claim to the title of the most important leader of our age.”
“John Paul has borne unswerving witness … to the fundamental proposition that places respect for the dignity of life at the centre of human progress,” Baker observed. “That each life is sacred, and not to be discarded, whether in the pyres of the concentration camp, the anonymity of the totalitarian state, or the easy convenience of the test tube and euthanising syringe.”
Baker added: “But John Paul’s consistent rejection of the culture of death has been the true liberation theology of the modern age.”
Meanwhile, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, offered his own praise for the Pope.
The archbishop of Westminster told Radio 4’s “Today Program”: “His whole life and mission, as priest, bishop, pope, has been to communicate to people worldwide that you will only be free if you order your life by what is true. In season and out, he has waged a battle against the moral confusion of these times.”
The British cardinal went on: “For the past 25 years, Pope John Paul has traveled the world. He has spoken about the truth, of the dignity of the human person, which should never be violated. He has spoken about the truth of the necessity of justice and peace for a world torn apart by injustice and hatred.
“He has spoken the truth about the universal call to holiness by a God who has created us and through the revelation of Jesus Christ has revealed his love and mercy for all humanity.”
Among the online salutes to John Paul II, the Sydney Archdiocese offers a commemorative booklet of his pontificate at