.- Pope John Paul II “ignited joy and a determination to persevere, no matter the challenges, because of his belief that the dignity of human life is united with the mystery of eternal life,” said Archbishop Brendan O’Brien April 2. The archbishop of St. John’s, Newfoundland, read the official statement of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to a crowd of 1,200, who attended a mass for the Pope at Montreal’s Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, less than three hours after the Pope’s passing.
The statement expressed the nation’s sadness at Pope John Paul’s death but also its gratitude to the 84-year-old pontiff who died Saturday after leading the Church for nearly 26 years.
“Catholics in our land hold deep affection for this successor of Peter who served the See of Rome and the universal Church for 26 years as an extraordinary spiritual guide and a remarkable bishop,” said the president of the CCCB.
Pope John Paul II had visited Canada three times: first in 1984, again three years later, and finally in 2002 for World Youth Day in Toronto.
“The image of the suffering shepherd, bravely descending from the papal aircraft unassisted in Toronto to greet the young people of the world, moved not only the young and Catholics but all people of goodwill,” Archbishop O’Brien recalled.
“Attentive to and inspired by his many important texts and encyclicals, the Church in Canada responded with particular enthusiasm to the image that he used in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte of ‘launching out into the deep’ to face the challenges of the new millennium,” he added.
“Through both word and example he taught the strength of faith, the power of prayer, the need to forgive, and the imperative of serving the poor and oppressed of the world. His teachings will continue to guide the Church in the years ahead in its mission of proclaiming the Reign of God,” he continued.
Canadian Catholics are thankful to God “for the years of service that this holy priest and bishop dedicated to proclaiming Jesus Christ in every corner of the world.”