Scotland's political leaders pay respects to Pope

This evening, Cardinal O'Brien will celebrate a Requiem Mass for civic, political, church and faith leaders in St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh at 7.30pm, following the death of the Pope.  

You are invited to send a reporter/photographer/camera crew.  

Among the guests will be; Mr Jack McConnell MSP, First Minister, Mr Jim Wallace MSP, Deputy First Minister, Mr Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, Rev. Findlay MacDonald, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (deputising for the Moderator who is in Poland).  

The congregation will be addressed by the First Minister at the end of the Mass.  

In his homily this evening, the Cardinal will suggest that those present, are; " united in thanksgiving for his (the Pope's) life" adding; " Having served in love and given us an example of love, having sought him out and allowed us to seek him out, he is now at rest. As we have learned from him, so may we implement his way of life in serving God and serving God s people as best we can, following in his footsteps as the great ˜Pope of the underdog"  

The full text of Cardinal O'Brien's homily appears below:  

ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  

FUNERAL MASS FOR POPE JOHN PAUL II  

ST MARY S CATHEDRAL, EDINBURGH  

HOMILY PREACHED BY CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN  

MONDAY 4 APRIL 2005  



Introduction:  

It is indeed a privilege to be with you this evening, celebrating this Funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II. Gathered here there are many dignitaries from public life here in Scotland, as well as many Roman Catholic people from different parts of Scotland. There are also leaders of other peoples from other Christian denominations; people from other world faiths; and people of goodwill of no particular faith.  

We have and are uniting in prayer for the happy repose of the soul of a great and good man, who has had a tremendous influence all over the world in the last 26 years. We are united in our sadness at his passing; but we are also united in thanksgiving for his life. We are united in our hopes for the future that the legacy of love and service which he has left behind will be incorporated into our own lives in some way or another.  


Biographical History:  

I do not intend at our gathering this evening I should give any great biographical history of Pope John Paul II. Thanks to the mass media “ our newspapers, radio and television “ we have enjoyed what might be described as saturation coverage of the history of Pope John Paul II and his passing from this life. For that, I thank all those who have worked so hard in preparing for this moment, a moment which has been recognised as an important one in the history of the world.  

Further, on our Order of Service for this evening, there is a biographical history of Pope John Paul II. It will take many months, perhaps years, before the full impact of the life of Pope John Paul II on our Church and on our world, is fully assessed.  

This evening I simply want to think with you of three phrases used by Pope John Paul II during his final week of suffering before hopefully now enjoying the joy of the Resurrection.  

It is love which converts hearts and gives peace :  

Yesterday, the Sunday after Easter, John Paul II s own words rang across St Peter s Square in Rome when a bishop read out a prayer that the Pope had previously written, to mark yesterday, the Sunday after Easter Sunday.  

The prayer said: It is love which converts hearts and gives peace . Writing that prayer was one of the last acts of the Pope s life “ and perhaps we should spend some moments of thought on it.  

Love was the central message of the teaching of Jesus Christ himself. How often he referred to ˜love in his teachings to his followers. In a special way John the beloved disciple quotes the teaching of Jesus on love in his words before the final Passion and Death of Jesus Christ himself. They were, I believe, the basis of the teaching of John Paul II himself.  

Jesus said to his disciples:  

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father s commandments and remain in his love ¦ This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you .  

And John Paul II said to us through his writing yesterday, the Sunday after Easter: It is love which converts hearts and gives peace . Let everyone of us here, let all peoples of the world, listen to those words and take them to heart.  


I have sought you out “ now you are seeking me out :  

These words were reported as having been uttered by Pope John Paul II as he lay on his deathbed during Easter Week. Aware of the crowds gathering in St Peter s Square, and especially of the great gathering of young people, who were coming to be with the Pope during his last illness, the Pope spoke those ordinary simple words: I have sought you out “ now you are seeking me out .  

And we do know just how Pope John Paul II sought out so many people during his ministry as Pope. He sought out and was with heads of state and leaders of government; he spoke to parliamentarians and leaders of local authorities; he also sought out the leaders of other Christian faiths and the leaders of the world s great faiths; he sought out the young, the old, the less able; he sought out in a special way those in any sort of need, so that I was able to describe him yesterday as the Pope of the underdog, as indeed he was!  

In an email from someone in London on 1 April 2005, the writer described himself as having been in our Cathedral here in Edinburgh on 2 January 2005 at the evening Mass in which we commemorated those who died in the Boxing Day tsunami and those who were working to help the survivors. The author of the email stated: I was the forty-something-year-old, with the stud in his lip and ring in his nose . And that same person went on to describe how beautiful that celebration was and he reminded me of the time that Pope John Paul II issued a letter inviting the leaders of other faiths to come together in Rome to pray. He stated that he remembered him (the Pope) saying: Our different religious beliefs prevent us from praying together, but there is nothing to stop us from coming together to pray .  



I think that sums up so much of the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II. If there were barriers between him and any people of goodwill, he sought to break down those barriers. He sought out all people of goodwill who would listen to him, who would dialogue with him and who would pray with him.  

Perhaps again a wonderful example is given to each one of us: break down the barriers; seek out others; let them seek you out!  

Amen :  

The third word that I would ask you to think about this evening is a very simple word: ˜Amen . One of those privileged to be at the bedside of Pope John Paul II almost at the moment of his death, indicated that the Pope tried to draw himself up in bed and is reported to have said as he looked out of the window towards the city and the world that one word: ˜Amen . That word simply means: ˜So be it or ˜Everything is now done or, thinking of those words of Jesus as he hung on the cross in his agony: ˜It is consummated . What a wonderful way in which to end his long and fruitful life of love and of service. It is all over now “ the Pope was trying to say “ I have done my bit; I now leave the rest to you .  

Conclusion : Alleluia:  

I would add only one more word to those words and phrases which I have quoted from Pope John Paul II from this past week. That is the word which is uttered so often in our Easter celebrations, the word ˜Alleluia . The word is used as an expression of joy, simply meaning something like: ˜Praise God ; ˜Praise Jehovah ; ˜Utter your songs of rejoicing .  

And that word must be on our lips and in our hearts now as we gather here this evening and as we prepare to say farewell to the mortal remains of the late Pope John Paul II. To the ˜Amen of the Pope there must be our response of ˜Alleluia .  

In our liturgical celebration today, we commemorate the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary the Mother of God. On being questioned by the Angel, Mary said: I am the handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me .  

Mary served the Lord in love “ and inspired Pope John Paul II throughout his life of service.  

Having served in love and given us an example of love, having sought him out and allowed us to seek him out, he is now at rest. As we have learned from him, so may we implement his way of life in serving God and serving God s people as best we can, following in his footsteps as the great ˜Pope of the underdog .  


Amen : Alleluia  

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