April 4, 2005

Remembering John Paul II

Posted by Mary Madigan

"I will never forget [the Pope's] words about Europe. 'Europe,' he said, 'must breathe with both its lungs.' "
"I mourn his loss," Gorbachev said. "We knew it was coming to this. What can I say -- it must have been the will of God. He acted really courageously."

- Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev

"I feel strongly that my brother is in deep grief. We're all very sad, [the Pope] was a great man who contributed a lot to world peace."

- Adnan Agca, brother of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who seriously wounded the pope during a 1981 assassination attempt

No obituary about John Paul II, for example, will omit to mention that he exerted enormous force to change the politics of Poland. Well, good for him, I would say. (He behaved much better on that occasion than he did when welcoming Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein's most blood-spattered henchmen, to an audience at the Vatican and then for a private visit to Assisi.) But let nobody confuse the undermining of a Stalinist bureaucracy in a majority Catholic nation with the insidious attempt to thwart or bend the law in a secular democracy. And let nobody say that this is no problem.

- Writer Christopher Hitchens

Despite President Bush’s typically unfortunate use of the word "crusade" after 9/11, American policy became notably more sensitive toward Islam. The pope meanwhile made a point of apologizing to the Muslim world for the original Crusades. Shortly after 9/11, John Paul called a day of prayer for peace at the shrine of St. Francis of Assisi which was attended by Muslim and Jewish religious leaders as well as representatives from Christian groups. His simple, somber message was that war and violence solved nothing and that nations would only advance through peace and brotherhood.

- Arab News Editorial

"Pope John Paul had defended the oppressed. We hope this remains the position of the Catholic Church towards our people and our cause and that it will guide its followers to defend the rights of the Palestinian people in confronting the continuous Zionist aggression aimed at Muslims and Christians in their holy land,"

- Hamas

[John Paul was] "a friend of the Jewish people..one of the most important leaders of our generation."

- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

[John Paul was] "a great religious figure who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom, justice and equality for all races and religions, as well as our people's right to independence."

- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

"He meant nothing to me. He was not even as important as a hair on my head"

- Rahman al-Mashari, a 45-year-old engineer from Saudi Arabia, the “birthplace of Islam”

Karol Wojtyla is a saint who made true the meaning of a savior who came to Earth because he loved man. I only saw him once as he whizzed by on his "popemobile" in 1982 as he came to console Argentines over the Falklands War. He was a shining presence. An incredible man who was everywhere at all times. We'll never see the likes of him again. May he bless us from heaven.

- Lorraine Smith Buenos Aires, Argentina

Posted by Mary Madigan at April 4, 2005 8:52 AM

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