CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN REACTS TO THE DEATH OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
It is with great sadness that I greet the death of Pope John Paul II, at the age of 84, 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.
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 over 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.
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. He appointed me a Bishop in 1985 and elevated me to the College of Cardinals in 2003 moments of great joy in my own life.
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. 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 .
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.
May God now grant him eternal rest and may we all learn something from the example of his life and love.
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