Statement by the Most Reverend Patrick Walsh, Bishop of Down and Connor, on the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II
We are all saddened by the death of our Holy Father the Pope who has been an extraordinary leader of the Church for almost 27 years.
Our sadness is shared by our fellow Christians and by so many non-Christians, people of goodwill, who recognised in the Pope a person who in his constant teaching on so many major issues affecting the good of humanity was in many respects the conscience of the world.
He was an heroic man, heroic at every stage of his life from a very early age when he lost his mother, his only brother and then his father. He was heroic in the hardships he endured under the Communist regime in his country. He was heroic in the manner in which he endured the attempt on his life and he was heroic in his long-time suffering with illness. He was heroic in his dying. He taught us how to live, how to suffer and how to die.
Indeed, when as bishops we visited the Holy Father on our five-yearly official visits, he always showed a great awareness of life, suffering and death in the context of our own diocese and always expressed particular concern for those priests who exercised their pastoral ministry in difficult circumstances.
I know that the faithful people of Down and Connor will now be praying that, his Holy Week of suffering over, he will, with his sins forgiven, enter into the Easter Joy of the Risen Christ.
I ask that in every parish of the Diocese Mass should be celebrated on a suitable date and time for his eternal peace.
MEDIA LIAISON OFFICER: Very Rev. John McManus, St. Malachy’s College, Belfast
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