.- In a message about the 25 years of John Paul II's Pontificate entitled, "I come from a far away country," Bishop Néstor Hugo Navarro of the Diocese of Alto Valle del Río Negro praised the testimony of the Holy Father's life and declared that the Pope's spirit "is not in a wheelchair."
The Bishop explained that "recently, with the marks of illness on his body, he has taught us about the value and meaning of suffering for the Christian faith."
"This Pope who appears on television tired, sick and in obvious physical discomfort, has the words and gestures of a prophet announcing the real possibility of a better, more humane world, shared as brothers and sisters, with greater peace and justice," said the Bishop.
He also recalled "how much the Pope has given to the Church and to humanity in these 25 years of his pontificate! And he did it without reserve, spending his life in fulfillment of the mission Jesus entrusted to him."
"His body slouched over, his almost slurring speech, and being carried about in a wheelchair, this tireless and peaceful fighter for the wellbeing of humanity shouts out that he is a man possessed by the Holy Spirit and acts through Him, and he continues forward until God himself says, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come now and enter into you joy of your Lord,'" said Bishop Navarro.
Bishop Navarro doesn't see the celebration of the Pope's 25th Anniversary as just another celebration. "We are celebrating a mystery of faith. We celebrate the power of God which turns man's fragility into the living rock upon which He builds his Church."
John Paul II helped us "overcome the image of the Pope as distant and unapproachable. His numerous travels around the world have allowed us to be close to him and are a service to the local Churches and to all mankind," he continued, emphasizing the "freedom and incomparable boldness" with which the Holy Father has addressed diverse issues such as world peace, the reconciliation of mankind, the defense of life, and the globalization of society.