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April 1, 2005
 
Image courtesy of BBCDiocesan Statement on Death of the Pope
 
by The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
 
Wheeling, W.Va. (HNN) — Today our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II's earthly ministry came to an end. Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
 
Pope John Paul II's death leaves millions mourning his absence. As Edna St. Vincent Millay said, "The presence of that absence is everywhere." One need only to turn on a television or open a newspaper to witness the profound effect he has had on so many during his more than 26-year-long pontificate. From leaders of the Church and powerful heads of State to humble mourners in our own Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, all are affected by his death.
 
The pain which fills our hearts will last but an instant. Faith gives us hope and lifts us from the darkness of grief to the light of Christ's presence. Throughout life, Pope John Paul continually answered God's call to be a living witness to the mystery of faith. In his last years, he taught by his own acceptance of bodily weakness and suffering that Paschal Mystery is the heart of the faith: in suffering upon the Cross, Christ undid the bonds of sin and despair, in dying, Christ destroyed death, and in rising, He restored life until His coming in glory. Filled with a sure hope in the resurrection, Pope John Paul anticipated this day through the courageous witness of his suffering, through his eloquent teaching, and even in his own poetry, where he exclaims,

"Non Omnis moriar (I shall not altogether die). What is imperishable in me now stands face to face before Him Who Is!"

While we mourn our own loss, we rejoice his life's completion and give thanks to God for the many gifts bestowed upon him.
 
Has there been a life more complete in our time? Pope John Paul II was a modern day apostle, personally carrying the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. He was a voice of conscience for the world, defending the Gift of the Family and upholding the Gospel of Life. He brought the love of Jesus Christ to the poor, the oppressed, and the imprisoned. He inspired us, guided us, and invoked in us a sense of awe and deep gratitude. Like Christ, whose Vicar he was, he had a special love for children and a real concern for the sick. In his final years, his public suffering mirrored the suffering of our Savior, and gave hope to millions who were called to bear their own crosses in life. In the midst of his final illness, he repeated the moto of his pontificate, "totus tuus", "all is yours Father."
 
Pope John Paul II was also a witness to human suffering throughout many tumultuous years. He worked tirelessly for lasting peace in the world, for Christian unity, for ecumenical understanding, all the while holding steadfast to the teachings of the Church. Like Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, he was a person of deep and fervent prayer. Our Holy Father was devoted to the Blessed Mother, a devotion that inspired millions to stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross and share in Christ's suffering. And like Mary, he transformed the witness to suffering into a call for hope.
 
May Mary, Mother of God and Mother of mercy, pray for our Holy Father and all who have died in the embrace of the Lord. May she receive his soul and present him to God the Most High. May she pray for us, too, in our sorrow and in our hope, as we prepare to welcome Christ's next vicar on earth, the 265th successor of the Apostles.
 
 Related: 
04/03/05On the Passing of Pope John Paul II
04/04/05Tri-State Catholics React to Passing of Pope John Paul II
 
Vatican: The Holy See
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
 
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