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Rt. Hon Helen Clark: Death of Pope John Paul II

Death of Pope John Paul II

Prime Minister Helen Clark today expressed her deep sadness on learning of the death of Pope John Paul II.

The Prime Minister also expressed condolences to the Holy See and to Roman Catholics in New Zealand and around the world, acknowledging the huge sense of loss and sorrow they are feeling at this time.

"The Pope's death is a time of great sorrow for all those worldwide who have admired and respected his work for global peace, democracy, and equality. These great causes and challenges of our times have all been the beneficiary of his powerful advocacy.

"From Pope John Paul II's early struggles in Nazi-occupied Poland, to his 1978 election as Pope, and during the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in the 1980s, he came to be one of the truly influential figures of the twentieth century.

"Despite his ill health in recent years, his mind remained as vital and strong as it had ever been. It was a great privilege for me to meet the Pope at the Vatican last May, and hear first hand his desire for peace in the Middle East," Helen Clark said.

The Prime Minister has asked for flags flying on public buildings to be lowered to half-mast today and tomorrow, and on the day of the Pope's funeral.

Formal messages from the Governor-General and the Prime Minister will be sent to the Holy See and to the Catholic Church in New Zealand.

A decision on who will represent New Zealand at the Pope's funeral will be made in the coming days.

ENDS

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