.- Pope John Paul II was “a much-loved leader of the Church who leaves an extraordinary legacy,” said the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Archbishop Francis Carroll of Canberra and Goulburn said he was deeply saddened by the death of Pope John Paul II.
He recognized the pope’s instrumental role in shaping world events, particularly in relation to the fall of Eastern bloc Communism.
“The recent intense focus on his declining health served to illustrate the place he held in the life of the world,” Archbishop Carroll said.
“Pope John Paul II took the papacy to the people, becoming the most traveled Pope in history,” he added.
Pope John Paul II visited Australia twice as Pope and once as the cardinal archbishop of Krakow. He holds a special place in the history of the nation through his beatification of Mother Mary MacKillop, the first step in creating Australia's first saint.
He was the second Pope to visit Australia. Pope Paul VI had visited in 1970.
"To all Australians, people of undoubted goodwill, I come as a friend: to urge you to pursue in your lives all those values worthy of the human person; to encourage you to be open-hearted, generous to the unfortunate and caring towards those who are pushed to the margins of life," he said during a seven-day visit in 1986.
At an open air Mass for more than 200,000 people at Randwick Racecourse, he made an impassioned plea for people to return to the Church.
"To all those who have wandered from their spiritual home, I wish to say: Come back! The Church opens her arms to you, the Church loves you!"
His second papal visit was for the beatification of Mother Mary MacKillop, the founder of the Josephite order of sisters.