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Australian bishop says Pope was justice champion

As the world mourns the loss of Pope John Paul II, Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council said he will be remembered as a "Pilgrim of Peace" and a "Champion of Justice."

Bishop Saunders said, "This is a time of deep sadness for the people of the Church and for all who have drawn inspiration and encouragement from Pope John Paul's tireless work for peace during a pontificate spanning a long and often tumultuous period in world history.

"During his pontificate, he issued hundreds of pronouncements including fourteen Encyclical Letters on pressing global issues concerning human life and dignity, faith, social concerns and the needs of the poor, and peace in lands afflicted with war, poverty and cultural tensions. As the most travelled pontiff, he brought a message of hope to the peoples of over 120 countries he visited.

"Only last month, the Holy Father issued a message to commemorate the 40th anniversary year of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes (The Church in the Modern World) - a document he helped draft during the Second Vatican Council. Reflecting on the document's key message he wrote,

'The sad persistence of armed conflicts and recurrent manifestations of violence in so many parts of the world are proof, in the negative, of the inseparable relation between justice and peace… In this connection, I would like to reaffirm once again that peace is the work of justice: it derives in fact from the order on which the Divine Founder himself wished human society to be built.'

Caritas Australia identified his "compassion for those suffering from poverty, abuse and any form of injustice or disadvantage" among his "outstanding characteristics".

"He journeyed away from Italy over 100 times," said Dr Michael Costigan in a statement written on behalf of Caritas. "Wherever he went in the world he emphasised the essential and inherent value and dignity of the human person. On the basis of that principle he supported human rights everywhere, eloquently and tirelessly. And he denounced every form of oppression and selfishness."

Meanwhile, Catholic Mmission said that the legacy of the Pope John Paul II - a man who travelled to 126 countries and undertook 81 pilgrimages during his papacy - will continue to inspire missionary work around the world.

National Director Fr Terry Bell said the Holy Father showed Catholics "how to reach out to others and break down borders with his own life".

"The thing that most impressed me about him was his holiness … he had an aura of goodness about him," he said. "He had an ease of communication - both oral and written - and his clear and constant vision was an inspiration."

Pope John Paul II: Pilgrim of Peace and Champion of Justice (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council 4/4/05)
Pope John Paul II an inspiring advocate for social justice (Caritas Australia 4/4/05)
Pope John Paul II an inspiring advocate for social justice (Caritas Australia 4/4/05)
Caritas Australia commemorates the life of Pope John Paul II (Caritas Australia 2/4/05)
The Pope's legacy for mission (Catholic Mission 4/4/05)


5 Apr 2005