Statement from Dr. Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland on the death of Pope John Paul II at Press Conference in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

03 Apr 2005


3 APRIL 2005




“Pope John Paul II – Witness to hope and champion of life.”

On behalf of Bishop Duffy, Bishop McAreavey and myself, can I thank you
first of all for coming here this morning to be with us in what is a
moment of great sadness for each of us personally, for Catholics throughout
the world and for so many others who have been touched by the life of our
beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

The Holy Father always had a special place in his heart for Ireland and
its people and I would now like to ask Bishop Duffy to lead us with a
short prayer in the Irish language.

Pause for Prayer led by Bishop Joseph Duffy

Last night a life of outstanding faith and generous service to Christ and
the whole human family serenely departed this world with the death of our
beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

This morning we mourn with heavy hearts and an immense sense of loss the
death of a loving Pastor, a gentle teacher and a courageous leader. But
we also thank God on this Easter morning, for his holy life, his inspiring
example and his unfailing affection for Ireland and the Irish people.

For those who have the eyes of faith, it is not without significance that
the Holy Father passed to his eternal reward after the celebration of the
vigil Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday. This was a feast the Holy Father himself
initiated during the great Jubilee year 2000 when he canonised the Polish
religious sister from his home city of Krakow, Sr. Faustina.

With that providence in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to offer
the sympathy of the Catholic Church in Ireland to the people of Poland and
in particular to the Polish community in Ireland. As Poland’s Cardinal
Wyszynski said on the election of the late Pope, ‘Rejoice Poland for you
have been asked to give the finest of your sons, one who has grown to
maturity amid the trials and suffering of our nation.’ Today, with
justifiable pride, they give that son back to his loving creator.

The legacy of Pope John Paul II for both the Church and the world will be
immense. It will include his deep reverence for human life, in all its
stages, his solidarity with those who suffer around the world, his immense
intellectual capacity, evidenced in the extent of his writing and teaching,
his love of the Eucharist, his love of the Mother of God and of the Church.

He was a man of our time, yet not afraid to challenge the culture and values
of our age. He gave it reasons for living and reasons for hope. He was also
ahead of our time in his message of global solidarity, his vision of a
civilisation of love among all the people and nations of the world, in his
respect for the human person and, to the very moment of his death, in his
powerful witness to the Gospel of life. He was in every sense a witness to
hope and a champion of life.

The deep sense of peace and serenity which accompanied him into death, was
of course, rooted in his life of frequent prayer and contemplation, particularly
his prayer before the blessed sacrament. His deep and intimate relationship
with Christ was the source of his great calm and courage in the face of so
many challenges, not least the physical challenges of his later years. He
often repeated the words of Jesus, ‘Do not be afraid.’

He will also be remembered for his desire to bring the strength and unity
of Peter to his Catholic flock across the world, but anxious always, in
every country he visited, to hold out the hand of friendship and solidarity
to people of every culture, language and creed. We remember with particular
gratitude this morning his visit to our own country in 1979, a visit which
we had hoped he would have been able to complete later this year. But alas,
the Lord has called him on another journey.

As we accompany him on that journey in prayer, I make my own the opening
words of today’s Mass which he himself used in his homily on this very
Sunday five year ago, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his
steadfast love endures for ever.’


Further information:

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* Dr Sean Brady is Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and
President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.
* Dr Brady was accompanied at the press conference by Dr Joseph Duffy,
Bishop of Clogher and Dr John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore.
* The Catholic Communications Office has a special feature on its
website to mark the death of Pope John Paul II which includes an
online Book of Condolence and statements from the Vatican and the
Irish Bishops’ Conference (
* On 16th October 1978 Cardinal Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, was elected
the 264th Pope of the Catholic Church, and took the name John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II visited Ireland on 29th, 30th September and 1st October
1979. Ireland was the third pilgrimage of his Pontificate.
* Audio links to the Pope’s 1979 homilies and speeches in Ireland, are
available on in the “Special Features Archive”.