Next Wave International Next Wave International™ is a faith-based communications group which is
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Europe honours Pope John Paul II

Added 04 April 2005 View full list    Print version    
Pope John Paul II passed away Saturday evening and up to 2 million people are expected to pay their respects this week in and around St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.

The death of the 84-year-old pontiff was the direct result of septic shock and cardio circulatory collapse, but the Pope had been ill for some time.

John Paul was not only head of the one billion strong worldwide Roman Catholic Church; he was also a head of state, ruling the small but independent and historically influential Vatican City.

According to news reports emanating from the Vatican, the Pope's funeral will be held this Friday at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET). The same reports note that the pope will be buried at St. Peter's Basilica. Some pundits had wondered whether he might be buried in his beloved homeland, Poland.

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in the town of Wadowice, 35 miles south-west of the Polish capital Krakow. As a young priest, then bishop and archbishop, Wojtyla made his presence felt in defiance of the ruling Communist regime.

He visited his homeland early in his Papal reign. Most authorities, among them trade union leader Lech Valesa, saw his presence as key a contributor to the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe.

John Paul became Pope in October 1978, the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years. He was also the youngest pontiff in recent history, being 58 years of age.

He has also earned the title of the well-travelled Pope and one of the modern world leaders most committed to young people.

During the week, many non-Catholics will no doubt also pause to remember and honour the life of a man who demonstrated a strong commitment to the cause of human freedom and to the protection of life itself.

In his editorial on this site, social commentator Mal Fletcher says: ‘For me, the greatest lesson of John Paul’s life and work, for all Christians, is that the church can and must play a role as a conscience voice in society – mixing strong convictions with positive and persistent hope.’

‘His life also demonstrated that a consistent walk of righteousness, combined with humility, can and does inspire hope for the future.’

‘The church should not see itself as a ruling voice which gives discipline by divine right, but as a serving influence whose positive and God-favoured example shows the world a better and higher way to walk through life.’

For excellent background material and other comment, from CNN, click here

(For the full editorial on this site, click here.)

Keywords: Pope John Paul II | the Pope | pontiff | Vatican City | Pope's funeral | the Vatican | Krakow | communist | Lech Valesa | Roman Catholic Church | Mal Fletcher | social commentator

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