Sunday, April 03, 2005

Millions grieve for John Paul II

In Bethlehem, bells chimed at the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus. In Paris, thousands packed churches and cathedrals for midnight prayers. And around the world, presidents and prime ministers offered words of praise for Pope John Paul II and his message of peace, his battle against communism in Eastern Europe and his efforts to build bridges between religions. (Washington Post, USA)

It's difficult when a person has been in a position of power as long as John Paul II to imagine a future where they no longer dominate the scene; where their influence, once potent, fades away. John Paul II's death yesterday leaves millions of Catholics across the world bereaved. Even those who were his critics are left strangely bereft. After 26 years as the Pope, this globe-trotting, authoritarian figure - who even in these last years of infirmity dominated the church - is no more. (The Independent, UK)

From the pinnacles of power to the smallest churches and across religious lines, Americans mourned Pope John Paul II on Saturday as a world leader and a personal model for faith and life. (Reuters, USA)

In Milwaukee, Aliyah Seck, a Muslim graduate student, recalled traveling with Christian friends to welcome the pope when he visited Senegal in 1992. Seck said he always respected John Paul. ``My religion talks about peace all the time and the pope has been preaching peace his whole life, trying to bring people together.'' (Guardian, UK)

John Paul's death ended the third-longest papacy in the church's 2,000-year history. Knowing it was near, cardinals from around the world had already begun converging on Rome. They are to gather at the Vatican for a secret conclave to choose his successor, almost certainly from among their own ranks.The election is likely to be contentious. John Paul's pivotal role in toppling communism in Eastern Europe, his humanist evangelizing and his outreach to other faiths made him visible and enormously popular around the world. But his deeply conservative stamp on the church, his intolerance of dissent on Catholic doctrine and his determination to centralize authority in the Vatican left his following divided. (LA Times, USA)

Since Pope John Paul II was a complex personality, conservative in some areas and radical in others, it is difficult to predict how he will be judged by history. He was a great conservative on issues of sexual ethics and gender equality, where his inflexibility created a new gap between the Catholic Church and the other Christian churches in the West.
As a great conservative, the Pope resisted the democratizing impulse of Vatican Council II (1962-1965). This council advocated "collegiality," that is, a more collegial form of church government. (Toronto Star, Canada),1282,-4909960,00.html,1,3241469.story?coll=la-headlines-world


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