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A Sad, Painful Day; The World’s Serious Loss

Posted April. 03, 2005 00:00,   


“The Pope of Popes” -The Times, United Kingdom

“Great Teacher who Showed How To Face Death” -Die Welt, Germany

As the news that Pope John Paul II died on April 2 spread, the world grieves. The world’s affection and homage to him was extraordinary, as he had devoted himself to making human peace and reconciliation real during the 27 years of his papacy.

Waves of mourning for the world’s “great spiritual guide” rose all over the world, from St. Peter’s Square, where hundreds of thousands of mourners had gathered, to Nias in Indonesia, one of the tsunami-hit areas.

○ “The sound of fountain water spouting into the night sky seemed much louder than it was,” a Christian praying at St. Peter Square in the Vatican said, describing the grave atmosphere just after the news of the pope’s death spread.

Mourning continued late into night as Vatican officials lined up along the stairs in front of St. Peter Cathedral and held a litany of praise for John Paul II, calling successive Catholic saints by names and Christians at the square following them.

○ World Leaders React In Sorrow

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan: “He was a tireless advocate of peace, a true pioneer in interfaith dialogue.”

“The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd. The world has lost a champion of human freedom,” U.S. President George W. Bush said, describing him as a hero of the ages.

French President Jacques Chirac said with his deepest sympathy, “His death will be felt strongly in France nationwide, as well as among Christians.”

○ Twenty minutes after the news of the pope’s death was heard in Poland, the pope’s homeland, bells in churches nationwide rang and a siren went off through a government office megaphone.

John Paul II, born into a poor family in the country, is highly respected among Polish ordinary people, who have addressed him as “the Polish king without a crown.”

A mourning flag flew at half-mast at the presidential palace in Warsaw, and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski declared a period of national mourning until April 6.

○ Sorrow at the death of Pope John Paul II, who had made efforts to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was also apparent across the Middle East.

Hisham Youssef, a spokesman for Secretary General Amre Moussa of the Arab League of states, said, “Today is a really sad day.” Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom made a comment on the pope’s death, saying it was “the world’s serious loss.”

Latin American countries discontinued regular TV broadcasts immediately on hearing the news of the pope’s death, and began to broadcast mourning programs, with Catholic churches holding mass on a large scale.

Brazil and Argentina declared periods of national mourning for about one week.

In addition, about 150 Christians in Nias, Indonesia, which was recently hit by the tsunami disaster, gathered at Santa Maria Church to hold a mass.

The Chinese central government opposing the Vatican expressed sorrow through an official statement from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao that “the Pope was a true world leader, and the world has lost a great teacher.”