The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development is mourning the death of Pope John Paul who fought to bring the plight of the poor to the attention of the world. In a statement the agency said: The most travelled Pope in history Pope John Paul visited over a hundred countries in 20 years and never gave up calling upon the West and world leaders to work towards alleviating world poverty. CAFOD Director, Chris Bain, said: "At CAFOD we feel a great sense of grief and loss. The Pope was a tireless champion of justice and peace who has been an inspiration for our work. He was a global figure but he was also someone who touched people personally, through his teaching, which so often addressed the global issues of our time, and through his visits around the world. He challenged all of us to live our faith, with its radical values and principles, more deeply." The Pope took a deep interest in the serious business of world affairs criticising the Coalition forces when they went to war on Iraq. In 1998 he visited communist Cuba and was received warmly by President Fidel Castro who changed his trademark fatigues to a business suit for the occasion. He also fulfilled a long-standing ambition to visit the Holy Land. But the Pope also engaged with the more popular side of world politics when it came to championing the poor. In one of his most publicised audiences ever he met with U2 pop star Bono in support of the Jubilee 2000 Debt Campaign to cancel Third World Debt. A meeting that earned him the nickname 'the funky pontiff'. Wherever he went the Pope was received by jubilant supporters. In Manila, in the Philippines, he was greeted by over 3 million people - the largest crowd ever to welcome one figure. He also received a magnificent welcome when he visited Britain in 1981 when he publicly endorsed CAFOD's work. He told the Catholic community gathered in Liverpool: 'I hope that the generosity of your hearts will never weaken. I hope that through CAFOD you will continue to help the poor, feed the hungry and to contribute to the cause of development". "John Paul has been an inspiration for CAFOD's work throughout his years as Pope. He has challenged the powerful over issues of justice and peace, and spoken out on behalf of the poor. And while travelling overseas he has met and embraced poor people and proclaimed their dignity. While in his teaching, he has expanded Catholic Social Teaching to cover many new challenges; in the last decade, he has focussed particularly on making a critique of globalisation in the light of social teaching principles," added Chris Bain.
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