U.S. President George Bush was among a throng of world leaders who have been praising the life and memory of Pope John Paul II who died peacefully at the Vatican on Saturday evening.

The president, who has met with the Holy Father on three different occasions said Saturday that, “Laura and I join people across the Earth in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.”

“Pope John Paul II”, he continued, “left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it -- as a witness to the dignity of human life.”

Pope John Paul II was, himself, an inspiration to millions of Americans, and to so many more throughout the world. We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages.”

Lech Walensa, leader of Poland’s solidarity movement, which the Pope himself helped inspire, said that, “(Without him) there would be no end of communism or at least much later and the end would have been bloody.”

United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, called the Pope a “tireless advocate of peace”, while German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose own country was long held under the oppressive forces of communism, said that, "Pope John Paul II wrote history.

By his efforts and through his impressive personality, he changed our world."

Israel’s President Moshe Katsav said that, "The pope ... bravely put an end to historic injustice by officially rejecting prejudices and accusations against Jews."

Many suggest that John Paul did more to further relations between Jews and Christians than any other pope.

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