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Tribute to the Pope

Tuesday, 05 April 2005

Tribute to the Pope

Gordon Copeland MP today paid tribute in Parliament, on behalf of United Future, to Pope John Paul II. Here is the full text of those remarks:

I am honoured to pay tribute today on behalf of United Future to Pope John II, who I was privileged to meet here in Wellington in 1986.

It is reported that the Communist tyrant Joseph Stalin once asked in scorn “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Yet in 1978 Karol Wojtyla, the first Pope from the so-called workers’ paradise of communist Poland, began to wield weapons which Stalin could not have comprehended.

Following his first visit home to Poland in 1979, the workers of the Gdansk shipyards, buoyed by his example, began to rise up against their government and Solidarity was born.

So began a tide of change which captured the hearts and minds of millions until, in 1989, the “evil empire” which had long dominated Eastern Europe, was gone in a bloodless revolution.

Love conquered hate; peace conquered war; freedom and democracy banished oppression and dictatorship. Pope John Paul II ignited those flames, not with the might of arms but through the power of his message, which was based on the truth about humankind and its deepest yearnings.

There was however more, much more, to his life. The cross, the central symbol of Christianity has both a vertical and a horizontal axis. For John Paul II the vertical was his love and total abandonment to God, and the horizontal was his love and total service to the whole of humanity.

He loved everyone, both women and men, regardless of their race, or religion: but especially the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged.

The media has said that at the hour of his death a bright light was extinguished but I hope rather that it has been diffused and will continue to shine in the lives of the hundreds of millions who heard his messages - especially the young people, who came in their millions to world youth days - a light which, please God, will never go out so that freedom from want and fear no less than from moral chains becomes a reality for all.

This I believe will be the lasting legacy of the greatest leader of the second half of the 20th century, Pope John Paul II. Vicar of Christ, a man for our times sent from God.

Prior to entering Parliament in 2002, Gordon Copeland was employed by Cardinal Thomas Williams for 18 years as the Financial Administrator of the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington. In that capacity he was part of the organising committee for the Pope’s visit to New Zealand in November 1986.

ENDS

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