Statement of Most Rev Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe on the death of Pope John Paul II

04 Apr 2005


4 APRIL 2005




It is with sentiments of profound sadness and shock that we have learned
about the passing of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II at 8.37pm tonight.  
Even though we have been expecting his death for the past 48 hours, in
the end it seemed to  come suddenly.

We pray for the eternal repose of his soul. We thank God for his life and
for his wholehearted dedication to Christ and his Church especially during
his 26 and a half years as Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.

We had been prepared for his departure by prayers and vigils during the
past few days. When it was announced, the death bell tolled in the Cathedral,
and a crowd of faithful people soon gathered.  With priests and people we
said the Rosary,  which was followed by a Holy Hour.  With mourners around
the world we were united in spirit.

The world no longer has this moral leader whom it respected.  The Church has
lost its universal Father and Shepherd. Our hearts are in mourning, and at
the same time they have a deep sense of peace and hope, for this man of God
left us an unforgettable legacy.

The image of his last blessing to the world at Easter, will remain in the
memories of many people.  His powerful personality and dedicated life have
influenced for good people of all faiths and none.  His extraordinary ministry
over 26 years has touched the lives of countless people.  All those under
30 years of age would remember no other Pope.  He spoke out fearlessly
against terrorism, exploitation, warfare and all that degraded the lives
of men and women.  His voice was a clarion call that echoed around the
globe on behalf of freedom, human dignity and peace among nations.  

He travelled the world as no Pope ever did.  The driving force that urged
him on, at times to complete exhaustion, was the desire and duty to proclaim
the Gospel of Christ, with its message of salvation.  He obeyed literally
the words of Christ to his Apostles:  “Go out into the world and proclaim
the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).  He was never ashamed of the
message of Christ.  Even when the truths he spoke were at times unpopular,
he never glossed over them or never silenced his voice.

He died on Saturday, the eve of the Sunday of Divine Mercy. Mercy was an
attribute of Almighty God he had always. God’s mercy became tangible in
his very word and deed.  And he was Totus tuus (All yours), a loyal and
dedicated servant of Our Lady.

Many tributes have rightly been paid to Pope John Paul II.  I add my own
respect and love for the Holy Father whom I met on various occasions.
He was it who appointed me bishop of this diocese 10 years ago.  May Our
Lady, Mother of the Church, whom he revered with such confidence and trust,
lead him to the glory of the risen Christ.  

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.

I ask the priests and the faithful of all the parishes of the Diocese to
remember him at prayer and at Mass.  Masses on Sunday (I shall celebrate
the 11.15am Mass in St Eunan’s Cathedral) and on Wednesday (and/or on the
day of his funeral), will be specially for him.  We can be sure that he
will continue to be a father for the Church and the world from his place
in heaven.

+ Philip Boyce OCD
Bishop of Raphoe

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)