Jubilee tributes to Pope from bishops of England and Wales

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, led the bishops in their tributes to Pope John Paul II on his Silver Jubilee today. Speaking on Radio 4's Today Programme, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, said: "His whole life and mission, as priest, bishop, pope, has been to communicate to people worldwide that you will only be free if you order your life by what is true. In season and out, he has waged a battle against the moral confusion of these times." He went on: "For the past 25 years, Pope John Paul has travelled the world. He has spoken about the truth, of the dignity of the human person, which should never be violated. He has spoken about the truth of the necessity of justice and peace for a world torn apart by injustice and hatred. He has spoken the truth about the universal call to holiness by a God who has created us and through the revelation of Jesus Christ has revealed His love and mercy for all humanity. "It seems to me that this is most apparent in the Pope's enormous appeal to young people. I watched him, three years ago, walk hand in hand with five young people, one from each continent, into the arena outside Rome where nearly two million young people were gathered together to greet him. To them, he preached a new message, sang a new song, told them that if they lived a life in accordance with the Gospel, then they would be free." Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Birmingham, paid tribute to the Pope's enormous respect for other faiths. Archbishop Nichols said: "A Rabbi in Birmingham told me a story about a Polish Jewish family during the Second World War. In 1943, the parents had to flee the Nazis and entrusted their son to their Catholic neighbours who if they did not return, promised to have the boy brought up as a Jew. Sadly the parents did not come back, and, in 1946, the neighbours asked their parish priest to baptise him. When he was told the full story, the priest refused, insisting the boy should have a Jewish upbringing. The boy is now Israel's Chief Rabbi, and the priest is The Pope. For me, this story shows what is in John Paul II's heart." A second group of Bishops of England and Wales had personal audiences with the Pope on Wednesday evening. They were: Archbishop Patrick Kelly, the Archbishop of Liverpool, and his Auxiliary Bishops Vincent Malone and Thomas Williams, Bishop John Rawsthorne (Bishop of Hallam), Bishop Ambrose Griffiths (Hexham and Newcastle), Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue (Lancaster), Bishop David Konstant (Leeds) and Bishop Arthur Roche (Coadjutor Bishop of Leeds) Archbishop Kelly said: "It was wonderful to see the Holy Father the night before his Silver Jubilee. He was determined to see us." Source: CCS

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