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Motion on the Death of Pope John Paul II

5 April 2005

Notice of Motion on the Death of Pope John Paul II

Madam Speaker, I move, that this House express its deep sadness on the recent death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and express its sincere condolences to the Holy See and to Roman Catholics in New Zealand and around the world, who are feeling a profound sense of loss and sorrow at this time.

Madam Speaker,

On Sunday when the death of Pope John Paul II was announced, people around the world stopped what they were doing to reflect on his passing and the meaning of his life.

What a remarkable life it was, from his birth in Poland in 1920, to enduring the Nazi occupation and the war as a young man, and then seeing a communist regime rule his country for the next four and a half decades.

John Paul II became not only Poland’s first Pope, but also the world’s best known and most travelled Pope – reaching out to every continent and across the faiths. His visit to New Zealand as Pope is recalled with great affection.

The great causes of our time – peace and disarmament, human rights and democracy, and equality for all – were all causes for which he was a strong advocate.

The world is a better place for his life. He made a difference.

Last year, I was privileged to meet the Pope personally at the Vatican.

His body was frail, but his mind was sharp.

He spoke of his hope for peace in the Middle East, and he spoke about his respect for New Zealand as a force for peace. That was a proud day for me.

In recent weeks, as we have watched his worsening illness, we have also admired his great courage during considerable suffering, even appearing at his window in the Vatican last Wednesday, and in his final hours, addressing a message to the world’s young people.

Madam Speaker, messages have been sent by the Governor-General and by me, to the Holy See and the Catholic Church in New Zealand, to express the condolences of New Zealand.

A condolence book is available for signature in Parliament’s first floor reception area for Members of Parliament, parliamentary staff, and members of the public to sign.

Flags flew at half-mast on public buildings on Sunday and Monday, and will be at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

I have announced today that the Governor-General, Dame Sylvia Cartwright, will be representing the people of New Zealand at the funeral in Rome on Friday.

Once again, I express the sincere condolences of the government to the Holy See and to New Zealand’s Roman Catholic Community.

May Pope John Paul II rest in peace.

ENDS

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