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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
A collection of tributes from the West Country
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 Right Reverend Michael Perham, Bristol of Gloucester: 'I give thanks for a Christian leader of faith, courage and holiness. 'Formed by his Polish origins and the history of the Polish nation, Pope John Paul was thoroughly engaged with the world and had a real passion for justice. He had the particular desire for unity, both among Christians and, beyond that, with all people of faith in the world. In particular, Anglicans will be grateful for his interest in the Church of England and remember with affection his visit to England and to Canterbury. 'It is important to remember him, not so much as a frail old man, even though he showed great courage and perseverance, but through most of his time as Pope, as a man of immense energy and intellect. 'For Roman Catholics the death of the Holy Father is a moment of both sadness and change, and we assure them of our prayers as Christian pilgrims on the same journey. We shall also be praying for those whose task it is to choose a new Pope and we know that they will want to elect a man of confident yet open faith, who will have a world view as well as wanting to play a key role in the renewal of the church in Europe'. Reverend Ward Jones, Chair of the Bristol Methodist District: 'He wore Doc Martins boots, played football in his youth, was an accomplished skier, began his working life in a chemical factory and enjoyed a drink. This same man's dying caught the breath of millions around the world. 'The media not only sent reporters to Rome to report on his impending death, they sent their best reporters. A generally taboo subject, 'death' suddenly was on the agenda, thanks to his dying. Pope John Paul could be infuriating at times: some of his pronouncements angered even fellow Catholics. Yet, for the Polish nation he embodied Hope. For the world at large, he put morals, ethics and religion firmly on the agenda for open discussion and debate, creating opportunities time and again for the Christian Church to engage with wider society and make the case for a Christian understanding of the big issues in life - not least that death is but a part of life. 'Such people are rare. Millions around the world, religious or not, will feel they have lost a father figure from their lives. We give thanks for him in life and death'. Right Reverend Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol: 'I would like to offer on behalf of the community of Anglicans in the Diocese of Bristol our heartfelt condolences, following the death of Pope John Paul II, to our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Clifton and beyond. 'The wider Christian community recognises that John Paul II has been an outstanding leader of the Roman Catholic community world-wide and that his loss will be deeply felt. Please be assured of our prayers at this time of sadness and change. 'May he rest in peace and rise in glory'. The Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester: 'On the death of Pope John Paul II Christians of every tradition, and not only Roman Catholics, will be thanking God for a remarkably courageous and consistent Christian life and witness; he has encouraged, and challenged, us all to a deeper faithfulness to Our Lord Jesus, and to a more faithful engagement in His name with the ethical and political issues of our times. 'I count it a great privilege to have worshipped alongside him, and to have had lunch with him, five years ago when I represented the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion on an occasion that was characteristic of his understanding of the calling of the Churches. Among the events of that Millennium Year he had the vision of an Ecumenical Commemoration, at the Coliseum in Rome, of the Martyrs and Witnesses to Faith of the 20th Century - of the fact that in every part of the world Christians of every Church had suffered and been killed, often together, for their Faith. Talking with him that weekend I was able to see at first hand something both of his wide-ranging memory and interest - he asked me to bring his greetings to Archbishops Donald Coggan and Robert Runcie about both of whom he spoke warmly - and of his grasp of religious and political issues; disabled though he already was, he seemed then tough and determined rather than frail. 'The character and "feel" of his life and faith were forged in the hard circumstances of his native Poland before, during and after the Second World War. As Pope he was able to make a unique contribution to the nerving not only of his own Polish people but of many others in Eastern Europe, and so to the fall of the Communist regimes and to the ending of the Cold War. 'His passion for Freedom and fundamental Human Rights for the world's peoples was always held in harness with his Christian understanding of the religious and moral needs of Humankind; so he has been persistently staunch on the range of pressing ethical questions that have faced men and women everywhere in these decades, from Abortion to Cloning to Marriage to the Environment - and in every circumstance and crisis he has recalled political leaders of every kind to the imperative to make and keep Peace, to attain their country's ends without violence and aggression. He has held before his own and every other Church a clear ecumenical vision of God's call to the Church to be One; and he has given a lead to us all to build relationships of respect and collaboration with the other major Faiths. 'Through a long Papacy, I have found him an ever more powerful encouragement to faithfulness and hope as a Christian - and I'm sure that this is the experience of millions of others. Our prayers at this time are for him and for Roman Catholic Christians everywhere in the world - and especially, in Winchester, for those in our Partner Dioceses of Portsmouth and Florence. 'The last words of this morning's New Testament reading, from his namesake St. Paul, provided a striking summary both of his own faithful discipleship, and of God's call to the rest of us which he has striven clearly to represent: "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immoveable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15.58). Reverend Ann Sherratt, Superintendent Minister of Gloucester Methodist Circuit: 'I always felt that Pope John Paul was a man of the people with a deep and radiant faith. His courage in these latter years of life has been an inspiration to many and now in this Easter Season he has gone to be with Our Lord. Alleluia!' Brian Cotter MP for Weston-super-Mare: 'Pope John Paul was a man of strong conviction, his message on ethics and morals was uncompromising, but his messages on world poverty, on social issues and against war, along with his upbraiding of political leaders when necessary, showed he was a man who listened to the people. His influence will be sadly missed. 'Having seen the Pope when he visited England, along with my family, he impressed as a man who was from his teaching, but who had great sympathy for the poor and disenfranchised.' Further information: Tom Bigwood, Communications Officer, Tel. 0117 973 3072 Notes: The following documents are available from the Clifton Diocese website - Obituary of Pope John Paul II provided by the Catholic Communications Service - Conclave information provided by the Catholic Communications Service - Prayer Card with Prayers upon the Death of Pope John Paul II and the election of his successor.
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