TORONTO, April 2, 2005 – CCRL joins all people of good will in giving thanks for the life of Pope John Paul II and in mourning his passing. Canadians, especially, remember the joyous feeling of unity and optimism we experienced during World Youth Days in 2002, and earlier during the papal visit of 1984 and the subsequent visit to Fort Simpson in 1987. Pope John Paul was a man who brought spiritual growth and renewal to everyone. His special appeal to young people grew from his insistence on holding them to a higher standard of values than they have been spoon-fed by popular culture, and his summons to them to build a better society. The world owes Pope John Paul a special debt for the role he played in promoting freedom in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

We are grateful that so many will benefit from his lasting legacy in peacemaking and pray that this influence will continue to grow. We are grateful for Pope John Paul’s  powerful example of forgiveness that he taught throughout his pontificate, but especially when he paid a personal visit to his attacker following the assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square. We were inspired in recent years by his example of bearing suffering with great dignity and courage. The world has lost one of the greatest leaders of this or any age, and we hope and pray that his influence will be long-lasting.

Future generations will know this Pope as John Paul the Great.

Philip Horgan, President of the Catholic Civil Rights League: