Homily preached by the Right Rev Vincent Logan, Bishop Of Dunkeld at the Requiem Mass for Pope John Paul II, St Andrew ˜s Cathedral, Dundee April 8, 2005
I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, he will live; and whoever believes in me will never die.
For Christians, those words of Jesus are at the very heart of our faith. It is what we believe. It is what Pope John Paul II believed.
Even amidst the sorrow that we feel at the death of the Holy Father, what great comfort we can find in the words of our Lord.
Such faith in the risen Jesus was fundamental to Pope John Paul s life and his ministry, and what a ministry it has proved to be over almost 27 years on the Throne of St Peter.
As we have seen from the tremendous media coverage since his death last Saturday evening, he was a Pope who touched the lives of countless people across the globe in a way that no other Pope has. Indeed, in a way few other leaders, spiritual or political have.
From the outset of his ministry, he set out to travel the world on what he called his apostolic pilgrimages, journeys which took him to every Continent.
Many of us here this evening will recall his visit to Scotland in 1982, and in the days since his death, we have shared these memories, still able, almost a quarter of a century later, vividly to recall the impact of his time among us.
He was a pilgrim Pope. In all of his journeys, his fundamental concern was to preach the Gospel. In doing so, he created a strikingly evangelical image of the Papacy and its role in the contemporary world.
Some of his most memorable meetings were those with the young people in all the countries he visited. As I have said before, I was privileged to be the celebrant of the Mass when the Holy Father met 40,000 young Scots - I was a young bishop then! - at Murrayfield Stadium in 1982.
Even in the frailty of his latter years, he made the effort to be with them at World Youth Days, in Rome, in Toronto, seemingly drawing strength and inspiration from their energy and exuberance, the vitality of their faith.
As pilgrim Pope, he reached out to those of other faiths, encouraging them every step of the way to walk together hand in hand .
He did much to foster ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue. In his very first encyclical, he committed himself to carrying forward the ecumenical vision of Vatican II. He insisted repeatedly that it was the will of Christ that Christians work together for unity.
He reached out to other faiths. Think of his priority to renew relationships with Eastern Orthodoxy. And as recently as January of this year, he met with 100 Jewish leaders and called for renewed commitment to stronger dialogue between Jews and Christians.
The Chief Rabbi in Great Britain called the Holy Father s pilgrimage to the Western Wall, that sacred Jewish shrine, as one of the great healing moments of our time.
At the heart of all John Paul II did, was a desire for peace and healing. He worked tirelessly to promote peace, in the Middle East, in Africa, anywhere where conflict tarnished the teaching of Christ and his Gospels.
John Paul II was a great champion of the poor, of the underdog. As he himself said, he was the voice of those who had no power to speak for themselves.
He put great emphasis on human rights, and especially the most fundamental right of all - the right to life. To fail to protect human life when it is most vulnerable, to destroy it through war and violence, to condemn it by abandoning people to starvation and impossible living conditions, is to undermine all human life, including our own.
Pope John Paul II preached such values and he lived them to the very end. In his physical frailty he was a tower of strength to so many. In his weakness, he exuded power, reflecting our Lord as He hung on the cross.
Can we ever forget his last appearances at the window of his apartment in the Vatican, witnessing to such inner strength and bringing comfort to countless sick people?
In his life and ministry, John Paul II was a beacon of hope and moral courage. Even those who disagreed with him recognised his enormous moral authority.
History will judge the contribution he made, not just to the Catholic Church, but to the world. He undoubtedly touched the lives of millions, people of all faiths and none, in a way that few others have been able to do.
Even those who never met him, felt as if they knew him, as if he were a friend. Let us give thanks to God for the life of John Paul II, a remarkable man, a man of great faith and devotion, who served, selflessly, as priest, bishop and Pope, in answer to God s call.
May God grant him eternal rest.