04 April 2005

The death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II

The Revd Will Morrey, President of the Methodist Conference: "The death of Pope John Paul II is no less than the passing of an era for the Roman Catholic Church, indeed for the whole Christian movement throughout the world. He was a man of transparent holiness and prayer - and a great ambassador for the Christian faith. Unusually John Paul II led the Catholic Church from the Vatican for a generation but travelled the world so extensively that he became one of the few people instantly recognised around the globe.

 'No one person can be the leader of a worldwide Church for a quarter of a century without having a huge influence on the shape and direction of that Church. This Pope's legacy will be felt throughout the religious and political worlds for decades to come.

 "He will be remembered for playing a significant role in the dismantling of the iron curtain in the early 80s and the subsequent restoration of religious freedom in his native Poland, as well as across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states. He was a consistent and doughty proponent of peaceful ways for resolving international disputes. Following the Vatican Council, he oversaw the emergence of Catholicism from sometimes narrow European roots to become a truly international Church - and one that thrives especially in Africa and Latin America.

 "It is perhaps because his best achievements were away from the English-speaking West that his guidance and direction sometimes seemed not to catch the flavour of ecumenical achievements and sensitivities in Britain. His successor will have a tremendously difficult task in taking over the responsibilities of the Catholic Church. Its place in Europe is challenged as never before. And there is a ferment of ideas, which will now come to the surface, about the Roman Catholic Church's leadership and response to the ethical and political challenges of the 21st century."

 The Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of the Methodist Church: "We extend our sympathies and prayers to our sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church at this sad time. Pope John Paul II steered the Roman Catholic Church through a period when the world changed a great deal, and his bravery and spiritual strength were obvious to all."

 On Friday, as news of the Pope's worsening condition emerged, Will Morrey wrote to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor:

"In the light of the news this morning of the worsening condition of the Pope, I am writing on behalf of the Methodist Church to express our people's love, support and prayers for him and for all our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers at this time.

 "Pope John Paul II has led the Roman Catholic Church through a period when the world has changed immeasurably and with often bewildering rapidity. He has done so in a way that is powerfully humble and holy. He has been a consistent and doughty proponent of peaceful ways for resolving international disputes and his bravery and spiritual strength have been obvious to all.

We are grateful for the progress that has been made during his papacy in formal dialogues between Roman Catholics and Methodists both on a world level and here in Britain. In those dialogues we have learnt better how to speak the truth to one another in love, and the conversations have both celebrated and stimulated informal contacts and shared ventures between our peoples.

 "At times like this, what unites us in Christ is much greater than any differences that there may have been between us."

 The Revd James Jones, Chair of the Methodist Scotland District, wrote to the Scottish Catholic Bishops:

"The Methodist community in Scotland has received the news of the death of Pope John Paul II with great sadness. In our prayers we commend him to the love of God made known in Jesus Christ. We pray, too, for the Roman Catholic Church in its life and witness in the eyes of the world.

 "We give thanks to God for the pope's own ministry and witness in the world-wide changes of the last quarter -century. Rightly, much will be said of his many particular contributions. Above all, he has remained a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and sustained others in that same calling. In that, and for so much else, we rejoice."

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