(29 Mar 2010 ) “Throughout his pontificate John Paul II firmly proclaimed the law, without weakness or hesitation, especially when faced with resistance, hostility and rejection”.
This is how Pope Benedict remembered the 27 years of his venerable predecessor at the helm of the Universal Church on Monday as he marked the 5th anniversary of his death on April 5th 2005.
This year, the memorial mass in suffrage of the Polish Pope was anticipated, given that April 2nd falls on Good Friday.
Concelebrating mass in St Peter's Basilica with the Holy Father were Vatican secretary of state, Card. Tarcisio Bertone, all of the Curia Prefects and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was Pope John Paul II ‘s personal secretary.
In his homily Pope Benedict said that John Paul II “knew that the Lord had taken him by the hand and this allowed him to exercise a very fruitful ministry, for which, once more, we give heartfelt thanks to God”.
He said the late Pope’s entire life was lived in charity, that he had the capacity 'to give himself generously, without reservation, without measure, without calculation''.
The ''certainty of the goodness' of the Lord – Pope Benedict continued -''accompanied him throughout his existence'' and, ''emerged in particular in the last period of his pilgrimage on this earth”. Pope Benedict continued, “progressive physical weakness, in fact, never affected his rock-like faith, his bright hope, his fervent charity “.
“He allowed himself be consumed for Christ, for the Church, for the whole world: his was a suffering” - concluded Pope Benedict XVI – lived until the last for love and with love.''
Pope John Paul II is remembered by many Catholic and non Catholic alike for his dedication to peace building, an element that led to him becoming a globally recognised figure. Papal biographer and journalist, Marco Politi spoke to us about John Paul II and his impact on the international stage:
"He transformed the Papacy into a spokesman for Human Rights. He has brought the Roman Pontiff to advocate religious dialogue, cultural dialogue, and to be very clear on the issues of a human face globalisation and on the issue of war and peace.
When the Bush administration decided to wage war on to Iraq, Pope John Paul II didn’t just make some speeches in general against the war, but he really mobilized the Vatican on a diplomatic level in order to avoid the war. He sent a secret message to President, then he sent special envoys to Bush and to Saddam Hussein, then he organised the meetings of all the Papal Nuncios and when he realised that it was not possible to stop the war he, in any case made it very clear that the Vatican was against the war."