The Great Pope John Paul II remembered

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 15, No. 14            April 7, 2005

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People worldwide are mourning the death of Pope John Paul II, who died April 2nd, 2005. Reports indicate that he died of septic shock and cardio circulatory collapse. The Vatican announced that the funeral will be on Friday, April 8th, and his body will be buried and laid to rest in a crypt below St. Peter’s Basilica.

    Pope John Paul II was a spiritual leader for more than one billion Catholics around the globe, and was the voice of a strong moral vision. The Pope played a major role in the fall of communism, brought the Catholic message to an unmatched number of people around the world, and endeared himself to billions with his warmth, charisma, courage and integrity. Although, little is known about who will be the next pope, there are candidates that are being discussed, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of the most powerful men in the Vatican; and Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the archbishop of Milan, who is considered the most likely Italian candidate. Now the question is, who do you think will be the best-suited candidate to fill the position of the late Pope John Paul II? Many agree that whoever fills the position; Pope John Paul’s shoes will be difficult to fill.

    Pope John Paul II was widely recognized not only as a religious leader, but a world leader. His personal mission as Pope was to be the chief leader and teacher of Catholics worldwide, implement the lessons of the Second Vatican Council, and emphasize the universal call to holiness and the Church’s role in a modern world. He made over a hundred pastoral trips abroad, traveling a distance far greater than that traveled by all other pontiffs combined. Pope John Paul II paid a special visit to Belize in March 1983. During that visit he commented, “As a new nation in this part of the world, you rightfully place great emphasis on unity. Indeed it is only by working together in close harmony that you will fulfill your destiny, build a lasting society, and prepare a peaceful future for your children and your children’s children. And today you have a right to have your hopes confirmed and all your lengthy efforts and resolutions lessened. As pastor of the universal church I have come to visit the Catholic faithful of Belize and to encourage them to live their Christian lives according to the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

    Pope John Paul II’s trips symbolized the efforts at bridge building between nations and between religions that were central to his pontificate. He beatified and canonized far more persons than any previous pope, and his pontificate was the third-longest in the history of the Papacy, after those of Pius IX and Saint Peter.

    In the days following his death, senior clergy at the Vatican have been referring to the late pontiff as John Paul the Great. It is unclear at this point whether the posthumous title will become official.

    As a result of his death, billions around the world are praying and saying their condolences for the pope. Belizeans of Catholic faith are also mourning his death. In a statement from the Prime Minister and the Government of Belize, Belize joins the world in mourning the passing of a great man and moral leader, His Holiness Pope John Paul II. The Holy Father will be remembered as the man who transformed the papacy, traveling around the world to bring the Church to the people. Prime Minister Musa has expressed formal condolences to the Vatican on the passing of Pope John Paul II and as a mark of respect has declared three days of official mourning in Belize, and has instructed that all flags be flown at half-mast on public buildings countrywide.

    San Pedro Catholics held a mass in his honor last Sunday and comments from the Catholic Church’s Lay Minister, Mrs. Martha Guerrero, are similar to all the other comments expressed around the world. When hearing the news, “his death was not a shock, because we all knew how sick he was. Now he is resting and is with our Lord Savior. We loved him very much and he will be missed.”

    The impact that the Pope has left on the people has been remarkable since, he touched the lives of many and is an example to all of us. In a previous speech in Cuba, Pope John Paul II stated, “I come as a pilgrim of love, of truth and of hope.” He will be greatly missed.

    The San Pedro Sun takes this time to share our condolences to all who were affected by the loss of Pope John Paul II. We are with all of you and may God bless us all! Sunrise 1920-Sunset 2005. May he rest in peace.
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