.- In a testament to the broad travels of the late John Paul II, the College of Cardinals today received official condolences on the death of the pope from the Vatican diplomatic corps in Paul VI hall in Vatican City. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, speaking in the name of the entire college, expressed his thanks to Giovanni Galassi, dean of the diplomatic corps to the Holy See, and to the other ambassadors present.
The Holy See currently maintains diplomatic relations with 174 States.
Cardinal Ratzinger noted that John Paul II "guided the Church over 26 years, making it clear that, as Vatican Council II recalls, she is 'a sign and instrument both of a very closely-knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.'”
“He brought the Church to hope with renewed impetus,” Cardinal Ratzinger said; “he introduced her to the third millennium, inviting Christians to carry Christ to the world and calling all human beings of good will to goodness, peace, solidarity and sharing. He opened the heart of human beings, especially the hearts of the young, to the message of the Good News.”
He said that, "We have seen the consequences over these days, when innumerable people came to render homage to His Holiness John Paul II. This Pope gave of himself to the limits of his strength in announcing the Gospel on all continents, especially during his numerous journeys, showing the face of a Pope rich in mercy, leading to Christ, man's Redeemer, inviting everyone to let the Holy Spirit dwell within them."
Cardinal Ratzinger added that the sadness of this time should be combined with "profound thanksgiving to God, Who gave us a great pastor, and with an intense thank-you to John Paul II for his actions and his teaching."
"You have been privileged witnesses of the activities of the Pope and the Church throughout the world,” he told the diplomats, “and of the development of diplomatic relations, which have more than doubled over this pontificate.”
How many times did Pope John Paul II exhort countries to find peaceful solutions and to pursue dialogue? How many times did he call on the leaders of nations to give ever more concrete attention to the people in their care, especially the weakest, the smallest and the poorest? How many times did he recall the greatness of human life?"
The cardinal pointed out the fact that the Pope's exhortations "still resound for us today as a commitment in favor of the human being, of all human beings."
They represent, he said, "a message and a call for us to greater service in favor of peace and solidarity among individuals and peoples, at the service of human beings of all continents, in order that a reconciled humanity may spring forth in a world where all are shareholders. This in particular is what the Pope tirelessly recalled to the civil authorities, and to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See."