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POPE JOHN PAUL II 1920-2005: John Paul . . . The Great, says Archbishop Kelly.

THE Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool: 'The first letter written by Pope John Paul II was called The Redeemer of the Human Race.

'At once, he explained that, by the human race, he did not mean a faceless mass, a nameless crowd.

'He meant every man, woman, child, each one unique - each one with their own name, known truly only to God. I am sure that is the key to understanding the gift the Lord God gave us in this Pope.

'The Holy Spirit formed in him a heart large enough to recognise, respect and uphold the dignity of each and every one.

'That is why he was a consistent herald to the worth of the life of us all from our conception until death came.

'This awareness of the God-given dignity of each one made him oppose war, the death penalty, abortion, euthanasia.

'But it also explains his longing to visit as a guest, country after country, rejoicing in their diverse culture, their song, their dance, their poetry' The city of Liverpool was gladdened and encouraged in its specific story, one once marked with division, by welcoming him in two cathedrals. It explains his conversations with leaders of nations, of churches, of faiths.

'I suggest three images to ensure we are faithful to what God said to us through his words, and above all his deeds: his meeting with the young man who had tried to kill him; his prayer at the wailing wall of the Temple in Jerusalem; his visit arm in arm with the most senior Muslim, Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, to the Great Mosque in Damascus.

'When I met Pope John Paul, I was encouraged.

When I ate with him, I enjoyed myself - he was a splendid host.

'When I celebrated Mass with him, I found myself driven to surrender myself anew to him who alone is Lord, Jesus the Lord of life.

'The Lord who came that we may have life and have it abundantly shall powerfully, gloriously, joyfully welcome him into the boundless life and wonder of the world to come.

'Two Popes have subsequently been known as the Great - Gregory the Great and Leo the Great. I think there soon will be a third - John Paul the Great


Archbishop Kelly
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 4, 2005
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