World Leaders React to Pontiff's Death

Published April 02, 2005

| Associated Press

Quotes from the around the world about Pope John Paul II (search), who died Saturday:

"An enlightened and inspired priest, he devoted himself to responding to the search for sense and the thirst for justice that is expressed today on all continents," French President Jacques Chirac (search) said in a statement. History "will retain the imprint and the memory of this exceptional sovereign pontiff, whose charisma, conviction and compassion carried the evangelical message with unprecedented resonance on the international stage."

"Throughout a hard and often difficult life, he stood for social justice and on the side of the oppressed, whether as a young man facing the Nazi occupation in Poland or later in challenging the communist regime. He never wavered, never flinched, in the struggle for what he thought was good and right," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

"The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home," U.S. President George W. Bush (search) said.

"In his native Poland, that witness launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history," Bush continued. "Throughout the West, John Paul's witness reminded us of our obligation to build a culture of life in which the strong protect the weak. And during the Pope's final years, his witness was made even more powerful by his daily courage in the face of illness and great suffering. ... We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders."

"Americans had special reasons to love the man from Krakow," said Bush, describing John Paul as a source of inspiration for "millions of Americans" and many others. Bush described the late pope as "one of history's great leaders."

John Paul "embodied the best that is within all mankind as well as the commonness of humanity," Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said. "His actions and statements transformed relations between the Catholic and Jewish faiths and made a fundamental impact on the struggle against anti-Semitism."

"We will miss him as a distinguished religious figure who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom and equality," Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said. "He defended the rights of Palestinians, their freedom and independence."

"The death of Pope John Paul II profoundly saddens the Brazilian people. His three visits to Brazil are still remembered with vivid emotion," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a statement. "As the largest Catholic county in the world, where people of several different beliefs live in harmony, Brazil feels sorrowful for the loss of one of the men who positively marked the course of contemporary history."

"Quite apart from his role as a spiritual guide to more than a billion men, women and children, he was a tireless advocate of peace, a true pioneer in interfaith dialogue and a strong force for critical self-evaluation by the Church itself," said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "I offer my deepest condolences to Catholics and others around the world who were touched by his life of prayer and lifelong dedication to nonviolence and peace."

"Pope John Paul II wrote history," German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said. "Through his work, and through his impressive personality he changed our world." He praised the pope's work for "peace, human rights, solidarity and social justice."

"We always saw, and continue to see, Juan Pablo II as a friend," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said. "We express our message of condolences and respect to all Catholic believers in Cuba and all of the world."

"Pope John Paul was a leader of manifest holiness and a faithful and prayerful friend of the Anglican Church. There will be time in the days ahead for the proper tributes to be paid; for now we remember his life and ministry with thankfulness and hold the church that he led in our thoughts and prayers," said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

"Europeans will never forget his fight for peace and human dignity" said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"At the forefront of the Catholic church he worked for peace, reconciliation and disarmament," said Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson.

"Pope John Paul II was unquestionably the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years. His extraordinary gifts, his strong Catholic faith, and his experience of human tyranny and suffering in his native Poland all shaped him, and yet he was respected by men and women from every conceivable background across the world.... His courage and perseverance in the face of advancing age and illness were an inspiration to millions — including me," said the Rev. Billy Graham.

"He was a holy champion of the Filipino family and of the profound Christian values that make everyone of us contemplate, everyday, what is just, moral and sacred in life. The world will miss a great spiritual bridge among all nations that he touched and blessed with his gentle hand," said Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"I still very well remember the moment in 1978 when me and my friends learned that Karol Wojtyla was elected the pope. It was a moment of an immense joy for us, I even think that we were so delighted that we danced for joy. We felt that he was a great and charismatic man who will open the door to an unprecedented renaissance of Christianity and through it to human spirituality in general, and who will fundamentally influence the future destiny and political order of the world," said former Czech President Vaclav Havel

John Paul was "a unique leader who left his own mark on the development of the world for a quarter century," said Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. "I know that there are different opinions, there is also criticism of the pope, for instance of his vision — the Vatican's — opposing the use of birth control."

"I join in prayer with all Christians of the world so that the saintly father is welcomed in the eternal light of God," said Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez. "The occasion is right to call on all Ecuadoreans for peace and reflection."

"The pontificate was the best example of plurality, openness, reconciliation and strength in difficult moments, always trying to heal the wounds that divided humanity," said Dominican President Leonel Fernandez.

"(John Paul) fundamentally influenced the fight for democracy in the communist countries, and he is one of those who has to be credited with the fact that these countries have been enjoying freedom for 15 years," said Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

"The Holy Father reminded the world imperatively about Lithuania's occupation, its strive for independence and was always speaking in favor of Lithuania's return to the community of independent states," Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said through his spokeswoman.

"Colombians, divided between sadness for his passing and joy for his example and message, are called upon to reflect upon peace in this country," said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. "If we can make it happen and the next generations lives in happiness, his holiness will look upon us with a smile and joy," he said. "With his determination and tenacity, he caused profound changes in history."

"He was one of the greatest leaders of our modern world," said Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. "He was an extraordinary man, one of the greatest popes in the church's 2,000-year history."

John Paul was "a man who served God and mankind his entire life has left this Earth," said Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp. He declared that "a great man has left us."

"We all feel like orphans this evening," said Vatican's Undersecretary of State Archbishop Leonardo Sandri

"It is the emotion of losing a grandfather, like losing a living stone to which we have clung for so long," said Monsignor Patrick Jacquin, the rector of Notre Dame.

"The Pope had brought people closer belonging to different faiths," Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf was quoted as saying by the country's state news agency. He said the Pope had "rendered incredible services for peace."

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