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Pope Benedict On John Paul II's 'Way of the Cross'

"His Agony and Death Were Like a Prolongation of Easter Triduum"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before reciting the midday Angelus today with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On April 2 of last year, a day like today, our beloved Pope John Paul II lived during these same hours the last phase of his earthly pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of faith, love and hope, which left a profound mark on the history of the Church and of humanity. His agony and death were like a prolongation of the Easter triduum.

We all remember the images of his last Via Crucis on Good Friday: Being unable to go to the Colosseum, he followed it from his private chapel, holding a crucifix in his hands. Then, on Easter Sunday, he imparted the blessing "urbi et orbi," without being able to pronounce the words, just with a gesture of his hand. It was the most painful and moving blessing he left us as the greatest testimony of his determination to fulfill his mission to the end.

John Paul II died as he had lived, animated by the indomitable courage of faith, abandoning himself to God and commending himself to Mary Most Holy. We will remember him tonight with a Marian prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square, where tomorrow I will celebrate a Mass for him.

A year after his passing from earth to the Father's house, we can ask ourselves: What has this great Pope left us, who introduced the Church into the third millennium? His legacy is immense, but the message of his very long pontificate may be summarized in the words with which he wished to introduce it here, in St. Peter's Square, on October 22, 1978: "Open wide the doors to Christ!"

John Paul II incarnated this unforgettable call with his whole person and all his mission as Successor of Peter, especially with his extraordinary program of apostolic trips. On visiting countries around the world, when meeting with crowds, ecclesial communities, rulers, religious leaders and different social realities, he carried out something like a unique and great gesture of confirmation of his initial words.

He always proclaimed Christ, proposing him to all, as the Second Vatican Council did, in response to man's expectations, expectations of freedom, justice and peace. Christ is man's Redeemer -- he liked to repeat -- the only Savior of every person and of the whole human race.

In his last years, the Lord gradually stripped him of everything to assimilate him fully to himself. And when he could no longer travel, and later not even walk and, finally, not even speak, his gesture, his proclamation was reduced to the essential: the gift of himself to the end.

His death was the fulfillment of a coherent testimony of faith, which touched the hearts of many people of good will. John Paul II left us on a Saturday, the day dedicated in particular to Mary, for whom he always felt a filial devotion. We now pray to the heavenly Mother of God that she help us to keep as a treasure all that this great Pope gave us and taught us.

[After the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in seven languages. In English, the Holy Father said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors gathered in this Lenten Angelus. My special greeting goes to the delegation of librarians from Ukraine.

On this, the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, let us commend his noble soul to God's loving mercy and pray that his tireless service to the Gospel will bear ever more abundant fruit for the Church's growth in faith, hope and love. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


The Vatican , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000



Benedict, John Paul, Pope, Easter, Angelus

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