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 anera for the Roman Catholic Church, indeed for the whole Christianmovement throughout the world. He was a man of transparent holinessand prayer - and a great ambassador for the Christian faith.Unusually John Paul II led the Catholic Church from the Vatican fora generation but travelled the world so extensively that he becameone of the few people instantly recognised around the globe.

 'No one person can be the leader of a worldwide Church fora quarter of a century without having a huge influence on the shapeand direction of that Church. This Pope's legacy will be feltthroughout the religious and political worlds for decades tocome.

 "He will be remembered for playing a significant role inthe dismantling of the iron curtain in the early 80s and thesubsequent restoration of religious freedom in his native Poland,as well as across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states. Hewas a consistent and doughty proponent of peaceful ways forresolving international disputes. Following the Vatican Council, heoversaw the emergence of Catholicism from sometimes narrow Europeanroots to become a truly international Church - and one that thrivesespecially in Africa and Latin America.

 "It is perhaps because his best achievements were awayfrom the English-speaking West that his guidance and directionsometimes seemed not to catch the flavour of ecumenicalachievements and sensitivities in Britain. His successor will havea tremendously difficult task in taking over the responsibilitiesof the Catholic Church. Its place in Europe is challenged as neverbefore. And there is a ferment of ideas, which will now come to thesurface, about the Roman Catholic Church's leadership and responseto the ethical and political challenges of the 21st century."

 The Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of the MethodistChurch: "We extend our sympathies and prayers to our sisters andbrothers in the Catholic Church at this sad time. Pope John Paul IIsteered the Roman Catholic Church through a period when the worldchanged a great deal, and his bravery and spiritual strength wereobvious to all."

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

"In the light of the news this morning of the worseningcondition of the Pope, I am writing on behalf of the MethodistChurch to express our people's love, support and prayers for himand for all our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers at thistime.

 "Pope John Paul II has led the Roman Catholic Churchthrough a period when the world has changed immeasurably and withoften bewildering rapidity. He has done so in a way that ispowerfully humble and holy. He has been a consistent and doughtyproponent of peaceful ways for resolving international disputes andhis bravery and spiritual strength have been obvious to all.

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

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

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

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

 "We give thanks to God for the pope's own ministry andwitness 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 andsustained others in that same calling. In that, and for so muchelse, we rejoice."