Following the death this evening of Pope John Paul II, below is the text of obituary tributes from each of Scotland's eight Catholic Bishops.
For further information, please follow this link:
For details of:
The Biography of Pope John Paul II
Information on the Election of a Pope
A report on the Pope's 1982 visit to Scotland
OBITUARY FOR POPE JOHN PAUL II
CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN
ARCHBISHOP OF ST ANDREWS AND EDINBURGH
PRESIDENT OF THE BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF SCOTLAND
It will be very many years before the full influence of Pope John Paul II on the Catholic Church and on the world of our time is fully assessed. The late Pope was a man who was on the centre of the world s stage for almost a quarter of a century; and for almost every day of that time his influence was being felt in some way or another, in some part of the world.
Karol Wojtyla was born in 1920 and ordained priest in 1946. Recognised as a highly academic young priest, who was a brilliant preacher, loved particularly by students and young people, he was appointed auxiliary to the Archbishop of Cracow after only 12 years in priesthood and succeeded to the Archdiocese of Cracow in January 1964. The Second Vatican Council, which was opened by Pope John XXIII in October 1962 brought the young bishop to the attention of others at the Council and further afield. In 1967 he was created a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI, taking part in all the international Synods of Bishops in Rome before being elected a member of the Synods Permanent Council in 1971. Cardinal Wojtyla travelled widely in the United States, the Far East and Europe “ and led the annual Lenten retreat made by the Pope himself and members of the Vatican Curia in 1976.
The Pope as Teacher:
Following on the death of Pope Paul VI in 1978, the elected successor, Pope John Paul I, lived for but 33 days. At the subsequent conclave, Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope, taking the title ˜Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II saw as his primary task that of continuing the work of the Second Vatican Council, seeing to the implementation of the teachings of the bishops who had gathered from all over the world at that historic event. He ensured the publication of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, stating that it was absolutely necessary for the Church . He had previously ensured the publication of the ˜Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1982, which summarised all of the Church s teaching throughout the centuries in the light of insights from the Second Vatican Council. He stated that this catechism was: a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion . His Wednesday audiences, conducted before tens of thousands of pilgrims to Rome became serious lectures lasting up to one hour; and he also issued over the last 24 years a series of major encyclicals or teaching documents, publishing 14 encyclicals, 15 Apostolic exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions and 43 Apostolic letters.
Pope John Paul II also saw to the ongoing implementation of the Vatican Council s request for regular synods or meetings of bishops from all over the world. He presided at each one of these synods, some 15 in number, sitting through long hours of input from bishops, who had travelled to Rome, representing the views of their Bishops Conferences. I remember one bishop saying to me: If I had to spend so much time at meetings, I would ensure that I had more excuses ready not to be present for some of the time! .
As Pope he also saw to the appointment of most of the Catholic bishops throughout the world at this present time, as also the members of the College of Cardinals. Having received the faith himself, he wished to appoint bishops and cardinals who would ensure that that same faith was handed on intact, just as it had been received by the Church and handed down through successive generations.
John Paul II seemed to realise his own particular place in history at the turn of the century and at the beginning of the new millennium. Three of his major encyclicals concentrated on the persons in the divinity: on Jesus Christ: ˜The Redeemer of Man, the Centre of the Universe and of History ; on the Father: ˜Rich in Mercy - showing that the full dignity of man can be understood with God the Father ; and on the Holy Spirit: ˜The Living Lord .
He called a decade of evangelisation for the last 10 years of the second millennium and then published two magnificent documents: ˜On the Coming of the Third Millennium ; and ˜At the Beginning of a New Millennium . The contents of the first of these documents were accepted by the member Churches of ACTS as a blueprint for their journeying into the new millennium. The document concentrated, as the Pope had done in his three major encyclicals, on the persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in three successive years; each different year also concentrating on the different virtues of Faith, of Hope and of Charity.
The Pope as Traveller:
The late Pope travelled the world in a way in which a parish priest visits his parish or a bishop traverses his diocese. Distance and difficulties presented no problem to him “ he simply rejoiced in being with his people in countries large and small, places where none of his predecessors as Pope had ever visited before. He completed 102 pastoral visits outside of Italy and 144 within Italy. His visits ensured him a platform at first hand for handing on the truths of the Catholic faith to perhaps millions of people at one time. On one of his first pastoral visits “ that to Brazil in June 1980 “ he explains the purpose of his many pastoral visits and missionary journeys: to communicate to the world the fathomless riches of Christ s love . I myself was with him in Manila when he preached to a congregation estimated at 5,000,000 gathered together in one vast area.
His pastoral visit to Scotland in 1982 is still engraved in the memory of those who took some part in that visit some 20 years ago. There was a youth rally at Murrayfield; the historic meeting with the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; a gathering of religious and priests in St Mary s Cathedral, Edinburgh; and a magnificent celebration of Mass in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow on the following day after various other meetings with those
involved in the field of Catholic Education, as well as a very moving meeting with those who were less able at St Joseph s Home, Rosewell. In Archbishop s House, Edinburgh, the Pope addressed Scottish Church Leaders and those of other faiths. It was at the national Mass for Scotland at Bellahouston Park that the Pope used those historic words: We are only pilgrims on this earth, making our way towards that heavenly kingdom promised to us as God s children. Beloved brethren in Christ, for the future, can we not make that pilgrimage together hand in hand . One might say that those words have motivated the whole Christian community in Scotland ever since to ˜pilgrimage together as shown by the Catholic Church s membership of ACTS, CTBI and other inter-church bodies. His Assisi Pilgrimages, not only with other Christians, but with members of other faiths, have also led to increased participation in inter-faith meetings in our own and other countries.
The Pope has always felt a tremendous rapport with the young people of the world and did not lose his own youthful vigour until relatively recently when old age and ill health overtook him. He loved young people “ and in turn they loved him. He rejoiced in the world youth days, which he had inaugurated and I personally, as President of the National Secretariat for Young People of Scotland rejoiced in travelling with him and with the young people of Scotland of the Catholic and other faiths to these major gatherings all over the world: from Rome to the Philippines; from Paris to Czestochowa. One can forgive his desire to return regularly to his native Poland. From there, he helped ensure that the Communist regime in Poland and in other countries behind the Iron Curtain was overthrown “ his own influence and fearless preaching had a great part to play. He hated oppression and simply called on the peoples of the world to be aware of their Christian liberty as the children of one God. Of course, all the goals of travel were not attained when the Pope died “ a visit to Russia and a visit to China would indeed have filled him with great joy, but that was not to be.
The Pope as Pastor:
As well as being a wonderful proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the late Pope was also a tremendous listener and saw one of his primary responsibilities as being that of building up the bishops of the countries who shared responsibility with him in handing on the Christian faith. On that visit to Brazil in 1980, he stated that: I feel addressed to me the tremendous and comforting command to strengthen my brother bishops in their mission; and with them, strengthen the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church in a courageous and enlightening faith, which will lead them to bear witness before the world to the reasons for their hope in Christ .
Pope John Paul II did indeed love meeting with his bishops and receiving not only formal reports from them at regular intervals, but relaxing with them and entertaining them in his private apartments in the Vatican. On each visit, which each bishop makes to Rome at least once every five years, the Bishop had the opportunity of a private audience with the Pope lasting approximately half an hour; the bishops as a group had the opportunity of addressing the Pope formally and then listening to a formal address from him; Bishops had the opportunity of concelebrating Mass with him in his own private chapel and then meeting him
informally afterwards with our students for the priesthood in Rome; and there was always the opportunity of a relaxing meal in the Pope s private apartments when the conversation ranged over a great variety of topics dealing with the situation of the Church in the world and the needs of our particular countries.
He listened also on his pastoral visits to the parishes of Rome, conducted as the Bishop of Rome itself. Before these visits took place, he would meet with his cardinal vicar for Rome, along with the parish priest and pastoral assistants to be properly briefed about the parish, which he was to visit. During the years of his pontificate, the Pope visited over 301 of these Roman parishes, out of a total of 334 “ a record not equalled or likely to be beaten by any of his successors.
Very many of us remember the enthusiasm of youth as seen in a young Pope, who until a very few years ago, would think nothing of holidaying in the mountainous regions of Italy and facing any challenging climb placed before him! He has died as an ill and frail man, with his body weakened through the assassination attempt quite early in his Pontificate and a succession of operations. But the Pope was aware of that call to serve “ that call which he first answered as a young deacon and priest; which he renewed as a bishop; and which he took again when appointed Pope. For him, service had no end until he was called by the Lord to himself.
In a very special way he served, and taught, as he approached death. His illnesses and infirmities gave him a different way of preaching, as he was constantly exposed to the world in all his weakness. He said even 10 years ago: The Pope must suffer, so that every family and the world should see that there is, I would say, a higher gospel: the gospel of suffering, with which one must prepare for the future .
John Paul II prepared for that future, that glorious future of eternal life with Our Father in Heaven, in his youth and in his old age, in the vitality of his early manhood, and the weaknesses of his many physical afflictions in old age.
A great man has left the world s stage “ but the legacy of life and love which he has handed on will long remain in our memory.
May God now grant him eternal rest and may we all learn something from the example of his life and love.
OBITUARY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
BY ARCHBISHOP MARIO CONTI
The death of any Pope is an awesome moment. The Italians have a phrase for describing an event which occurs very rarely: Ogni morte di Papa which means literally every death of a Pope.
But it is not only the length of the Holy Father s reign which makes his death momentous, but more importantly the enormous impact his life and papacy have had not only on the Catholic Church but on the wider world.
I ve had the privilege over many years of seeing the late Holy Father both close up and at a distance; as close up as at the dinner table, whether in the Archbishop s residence in Edinburgh on the occasion of his unforgettable visit to Scotland in 1982, or in his own Apostolic Palace, for during the years of his pontificate he constantly invited visiting bishops and others to share his table.
In those more intimate circumstances it was the philosopher in him that was most marked, as he asked questions, cupped his ear to listen to the replies and occasionally made some remark either to agree or to probe a little deeper.
John Paul II was by training and by cast of mind a philosopher, and his great encyclicals demonstrate the philosopher s method. His favoured style was to take a scriptural passage, extract the words of Jesus from a dialogue and tease out their meaning.
Who could forget the way in which he introduced his subject in that outstanding encyclical on moral matters, Veritatis Splendor, when he took the question of the young man: Good Master what must I do to obtain eternal life? and Jesus response ¦ Why do you ask me about what is good. God alone is good, and reflected deeply upon them?
In doing so he instilled the message that goodness can only be judged relative to something objective, no, more than that, to the Good itself, namely God.
On the other hand, to see the Pope in action at a distance was to see a man who was a consummate actor “ in other words who knew how to project his message, not only by the sonorous tones of his voice, but also by his gestures.
I recall for example his rapport with the hundreds of thousands of youngsters who gathered from all over the world for his last World Youth Day at Toronto in summer 2002.
The Pope is old, he said, and you are young, to which there was an immediate response ¦ The Pope is young, the Pope is young!
Everything about his physical appearance in his final years belied that response of the young people, but the way they responded immediately suggested that there was a meeting of hearts.
This was the encounter of a man of enormous personality and historical significance with young people who so readily idolise those who challenge and inspire them.
I cannot imagine anyone else being quite so successful in engaging them so quickly in dialogue, and, one hopes, with lasting effect upon their lives. Only time will tell, as they mature in their Christian lives, how extensive has been the impact of his personality on this generation.
Of course it has not only been on the young that the Pope s words, gestures and life have impacted.
He can be credited with precipitating the collapse of the Iron Curtain by his support of the Solidarity Movement in his native Poland. Vast crowds assembled to meet him on each of his eight visits, culminating in the two million who attended his last Mass in his native Krakow.
One might have thought that the impact of such visits would have been in inverse proportion to their number, but that does not seem to have been the case.
Having precipitated the changes in the Eastern bloc he was intent on ensuring that the new order was better than the old, for he could be as critical of unbridled capitalism as he had been of totalitarian communism.
All his visits to former Eastern bloc countries were marked by signs of their appreciation of the role he played in bringing about this new order.
If in the West, he continued to press the European Union to remember its spiritual roots in the Christian gospel, he would, with reference to the East, time and time again speak of the necessity of Europe breathing with both lungs .
His great unachieved ambition had been to visit Russia, and to embrace the Patriarch of Moscow, only to find that the latter was the chief obstacle to his visit. Therein lay a tale of Orthodox suspicion of the West, in all probability arising out of sensitivity to Western Christian criticism of the failure of Orthodoxy to stand up to Soviet atheistic imperialism.
On the other hand his visit to Greece proved to be a triumph of ecclesiastical diplomacy against all predictions, though of course Orthodoxy in Greece was less affected by the Communist menace, and more focussed on ancient antipathies, some dating back to the Crusades and the Sack of Constantinople!
The presence in Greece and other Orthodox countries of a frail old man, still intent upon visiting those he considered his natural friends, seemed enough to soften hardened attitudes.
If this was true of his relations with the Orthodox world, it was true also of his overtures to Judaism. No-one who saw it will forget the image of the white-clad old man at the Wailing Wall of the Temple sacred to Jews the world over, placing, as so many pilgrims do, a petition in the clefts of the stone, his petition being for reconciliation between Christians and Jews.
It should not have been so surprising really, for, as the press was able to report, he and his family had warm relations with Jewish families in his native Poland, and at a more private level he was considered by many Jewish people as a personal friend.
He had prepared for that visit many years before, when he became the first reigning Pope to go to the Roman synagogue, there to greet his older brothers in the faith .
Though it is too early to offer a rounded view of such an extraordinary life, I believe the late Holy Father will be particularly remembered as the Pope of human dignity.
Right from the outset of his pontificate the appeal to humanity to be aware of its own dignity was a kind of leitmotif.
That deep-rooted consciousness of the infinite worth of every human being is the key to understanding what some see as the contradictions of his reign.
It was his belief in the worth of every individual which led him to decry abortion as a crime against humanity; to oppose any use of artificial contraception within or outwith the marital act and to oppose cloning, embryo experimentation and euthanasia.
Yet it was that same belief in the dignity of the individual which led him to stand next to the shocked dictators of Latin American Juntas and denounce them before the very people on whose rights they had trampled.
It was his conviction that every person is of infinite worth which made him an implacable opponent of Marxism and of unbridled capitalism “ both systems failing to recognise and support the dignity of the human person.
In reality there was no contradiction in John Paul II. He was all of a piece.
As we begin to take stock of the extraordinary personality of John Paul II, his influence on the Church and the world, we will all treasure our own memories.
In his later years one of the hardest burdens for him to bear must have been the paralysis which affected his facial muscles, contorting them into a scowl which belied the caring and friendly personality within.
I prefer to recall the smiling Pope, the laughing Pope. And my own favourite anecdote dates back to a visit made to him some years ago.
As a Pole, coming from an almost completely land-locked country, he had a strange fascination with islands.
Alas for me, as Bishop of Aberdeen, his previous visitor had been the Bishop of Malta, home of a huge Catholic population.
I entered to find the Holy Father musing over a map of my then-diocese of Aberdeen. He stabbed a finger at the Orkney Islands. How many Catholics? he asked in his inimitable baritone English.
Oh, around two hundred Your Holiness, I replied, hoping my memory hadn t let me down.
Ah, good. Two hundred thousand. Very good, he mused.
No, Holy Father, I interjected. Just two hundred!
He laughed, as I did, at the mistake, and later I reflected on his assumption.
His ministry as Pope was universal, his responsibilities overwhelming and his workload awesome.
All the more remarkable then that capacity of his to make every interlocutor feel as though they were the only person in the world who mattered at a given moment.
As I reflect on his passing I am more than ever convinced that it was only the almost mystical depths of his prayer life which enabled him to carry the burden of the Papacy for so long.
His legacy? A purified Church, a re-invigorated Church, a truly universal Church, a Church committed to ecumenical dialogue and to the defence of the dignity of the human person.
He bestrode the world like a giant. His place in history is assured. It is assured also in the hearts of those who knew him as in some ways awesome in vision and ability, yet truly human in personality. A witness both to man s greatness and to his weakness, a witness to his master, whose weakness was greater than human strength.
OBITUARY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
by BISHOP VINCENT LOGAN, BISHOP OF DUNKELD
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Pope John Paul II. All of us in the Catholic Church have lost our spiritual father, but the world, too, has lost a great leader.
For the last quarter of a century he has been a figure of immense influence at the heart of international affairs, a man whose wisdom and insight has been sought by leaders from almost every country.
From the outset of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II made it his duty to travel the world, to meet his faithful flock in as many countries as he could, to spread the Gospel in all four corners of the earth.
And how we loved him for it. Who could ever forget his visit to Scotland in 1982?
The memories of those days in which the Holy Father was among us, in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Rosewell, will live in our hearts forever.
I had only been a bishop for a year at that time, and I was honoured to be principal celebrant at the Mass for the young people of Scotland at Murrayfield.
How the Holy Father loved that meeting with thousands of young Scots, and how they loved him. His rapport with the youth of the world, his love of their exuberance and energy, was always apparent, even in his latter years.
In Scotland, too, there was the historic meeting with the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Pope John Paul II's invitation to all Christians to walk together hand in hand did so much to encourage and strengthen the bonds between the different denominations in our country.
It was Pope John Paul II who appointed me Bishop of Dunkeld and I had the privilege, on many occasions, to meet with him during the bishops' ad limina visits to Rome.
There he would listen to us, share with us his concerns, and encourage us in the task given to us of leading our dioceses, and being witnesses to Christ and his Gospel.
Evangelisation was at the heart of his pontificate, as witnessed by the publication of his Apostolic Letters, Tertio Millennio Adveniente and Novo Millennio Inuente, as he exhorted all of us, individually and collectively, to pray and reflect on our faith and to go out and spread the Good News of the Gospel.
At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II was a fit, athletic, robust man, but a would-be assassin's bullet did much to rob him of his physical strength.
Our memories of him, in the latter years of his papacy, are of a frail old man, ravaged by illness. But in his very weakness was such strength, and such a powerful witness.
He was a man of great faith, dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ and to his Church, a man of deep devotion to Our Lady, totally committed to the task entrusted to him by God.
History will judge the contribution made by John Paul II, not only to the Catholic Church, but to Christianity and the world. That is for later.
At the moment, we mourn the loss of a truly good man, who steadfastly proclaimed the teaching of the Church as handed down to us from the Apostles.
John Paul II has left all of us a rich legacy in the example he set of a life of love and service to his beloved Church, as priest, bishop and servant of the servants of God.
May God grant him eternal rest.
OBITUARY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
by BISHOP IAN MURRAY, BISHOP OF ARGYLL AND THE ISLES
The Pope who emerged from the second conclave in 1979 had been born into the new Polish State struggling to establish itself after the First World War. The Partitions of Poland had meant that the Polish nation only survived as a Faith and a Culture. This fact was a powerful influence on the formation and character of the new Pope. He brought to his office a strong faith deeply rooted in the historic traditions of his people. His experience of the horror of war and the harshness of two oppressive totalitarian regimes taught him the value of life and freedom and made him the strong, resilient character that he was. All these features were enhanced by his obvious humanity, his easy relationship with children and young people. Pope John Paul was the most traveled Pope in the history of the Church and millions of the faithful saw him and heard him. His visits emphasized the unity and universality of the Church. The numerous persons he beatified and canonized during his pontificate reminded us that we are all called to holiness and that sanctity is more common than we realized. Throughout his pontificate Pope John Paul worked for the renewal of Christian life, calling the faithful back to their Gospel roots and urging them out into the world as messengers of the Good News. History will recognize him as one of the key figures in the history of the last hundred years. May God grant him the reward of his labours.
OBITUARY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
by BISHOP JOHN MONE, Retired Bishop of Paisley
What an incredible gift to the Church and to the world! The visible head of one of thousand million Catholics throughout the world has also been the visible and living proof that the Holy Spirit is alive and well and looking after the Church. God made sure we had the right man for the needs of the time.
Very many people are convinced that he, John Paul, had no small part to play in the collapse of Communism, the Iron Curtain and the Wall .
From the start of his Pontificate, he was a breath of fresh air. He kept himself physically fit by walking, skiing and in earlier days, playing football. When he became Pope, he asked for a small swimming pool to be built in the Papal summer residence at Castelgandolfo. Eyebrows were raised by the Cardinals in charge of finance: would it not be too expensive? John Paul was quick to point out that it would be cheaper than another Conclave!
I will miss this man for all seasons , a man for all the people of God but particularly fpr the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged of the world.
I do not believe that he received the credit he deserved for being a peacemaker. His message to the world each new year was about peace and how we can achieve it. With his predecessors he knew that development and justice were other names for peace.
While there were many worthy recipients of the Noble Peace Prize, surely a man of the stature of John Paul II, who had given 25 years as a constant promoter of peace, should, at some stage, have been given this accolade.
How many visitors to Rome would be aware of the lovely warm smile Pope John Paul had? Many times I have been with him and when he asked the name of my Diocese, we had a private joke going between us as, when I answered Paisley , he always smiled - almost sympathetically!
During the Ad Limina visit of all the Scottish Bishops to Rome and the Vatican in March 2003, I am so pleased that in our one to one chat, I was able to thank him for his strong leadership in speaking out against going to war in Iraq. This had given me the strength and courage to speak out openly against it.
I was also able to thank him for being an inspiration to the Youth of the world and also to the frail and elderly, giving purpose to their fading health and years.
The name Holy Father for me sat well on John Paul II. Being with him I had the feeling of being in the presence of holiness. This special virtue gave him the right to remind everyone constantly that we are called to holiness.
When will we see his like again?
DEATH OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
by BISHOP JOSEPH DEVINE, BISHOP OF MOTHERWELL
After the third longest pontificate in history, it came as a surprise to no one that John Paul II went to his eternal reward a few days ago, in the 27th years of his long occupancy of the chair of St Peter. To underline what I mean, both our own Press Office and the Scottish Catholic Observer, had been pressing me to supply them with a statement about the death of the Pope as far back as a decade ago. I never did so, for I always felt that John Paul would go on and on. So it proved to be.
To underline further the length of his pontificate, only Archbishop Conti and I are among the small number of bishops world-wide who were not given such a role by John Paul II. If nothing else, that goes to show the immense impact that he made in the life of the Catholic Church over the closing decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century.
Of course, what most Scottish Catholics will remember today was his historic visit to our land 23 years ago. The impact of that visit was enormous. The papacy of John Paul II was marked most of all by the speed of change. When he was elected as Pope in 1978, computers were in their infancy, the internet was unknown and fax machines, to say nothing of teletext and e-mails, were scarcely known. The speed of communications was to be a new toy, not for the rich and the affluent, but for millions of new subscribers. It was a brave new world, not for the few, but for millions.
John Paul II coped with this in a remarkable way. He became a communicator who has left a legacy in his speeches and written works that has outrivaled all previous Popes. I well recall that when he began his weekly Wednesday public audiences, he started with reflections on the Book of Genesis. It convinced me that his papacy was not to be compared with the time of his predecessor in the chair of Peter. This new Pope was in for the long haul in that office.
But now that he has gone to his eternal reward, the great question will be who will succeed him. To that question I have no answer. But whoever is to be the new Pope has a daunting challenge facing him, for John Paul II has left such an imprint on the Catholic Church that it might take decades for the Church to find someone who will be able to measure his stature. By whatever standards that we might wish to set, his was an utterly remarkable pontificate.
Bishop of Motherwell
OBITUARY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
BY Bishop Peter A Moran, DIOCESE OF ABERDEEN
The death of Pope John Paul removes an outstanding personality not only from the Roman Catholic Church but from the world stage. For over a quarter of a century he has travelled the globe and dominated the news as few other popes or statesmen of this age or any other. His language skills have merely supplemented this international dimension.
Like millions of others, I have admired his tireless determination to meet people where they are, to spend time among them and to listen to them.
As a Catholic priest and recently a bishop, I have admired the tenacity, clarity and patience of his teaching. What many dismiss as out-of-date doctrine, as conservatism and mere tradition, he has presented and defended, in season and out of season , with powerful logic and total commitment, as eternal truth and the recipe for real human fulfilment.
As the first non-Italian pope in centuries, he brought to his role of Church leader a physical and moral courage tempered and tested in the crucible of oppressive regimes. Having survived an assassination attempt, and forgiven the gunman, he has battled a chronic and debilitating illness to fulfil a programme of private interviews and public occasions which would have defeated all but someone of his heroic determination.
In recent months I have met him several times and was always torn between distress at his obvious physical suffering and admiration of his perseverance. With millions of my fellow Roman Catholics, and indeed of believers of many faiths, I give thanks to God for the life and witness of this giant among men, and I pray that he has now found rest and reward in the presence of the One he served so unstintingly.
+ Peter A. Moran
Bishop of Aberdeen
Diocese of Galloway
His Holiness Pope John Paul II
October 16th 1978 is a date that is etched on my memory. I had just finished saying evening Mass when my parish priest came running into the sacristy to tell me that we had a new Pope and that he was Polish.
In the days that followed there was considerable speculation in the mass media as to the effect that the election of Karol Wojtyla would have on Communist Eastern Europe in general and on Poland in Particular.
Looking back now on the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II, most commentators would agree that the collapse of Communism was due in no small measure to his influence. His tireless journeying around the world in the service of the Gospel right up to the end of his life has impressed everyone.
From a personal point of view, Monday May 31st and Tuesday June 1st 1982 are among the most memorable days of my life. On that Monday I was present in Murrayfield to witness the rapturous reception that our young people gave to the Pope. On the following day it seemed almost as though the whole Catholic population of Scotland had assembled in Bellahouston Park. The atmosphere that day was a unique combination of joy and respect.
In September of last year I was in Rome on an induction course for newly ordained bishops. At the conclusion of the course we were taken out to Castel Gandolfo for an audience with the Pope. I could not help contrasting the strong vigorous Pope of my earlier memories with the reality of the ageing and infirm Pope of recent years. However, the example he has given to the world in his final years has been an inspiration to the sick and the elderly. In what proved to be his final Lenten message, he had this to say, The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful.
May he rest in peace.
Bishop of Galloway