Scots tribute to 'great man gone from world stage'
CHURCH and political leaders across Scotland united in tribute following news of Pope John Paul II’s death last night.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of Scotland’s Catholics said "a great man has left the world’s stage".
He said: "The legacy of life and love which he has handed on will long remain in our memory. May God now grant him eternal rest and may we all learn something from the example of his life and love."
The Cardinal said it would be many years before the influence of the Pontiff on the Catholic Church and on the world was fully assessed.
"The late Pope was a man who was on the centre of the world’s stage for almost a quarter of a century, and for almost every day of that time his influence was being felt in some way or another, in some part of the world," he said.
A special Mass is expected to be celebrated by Cardinal O’Brien in St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh today.
Archbishop Mario Conti said the death of any Pope was an "awesome moment". He added: "It is not only the length of the Holy Father’s reign that makes his death momentous, but more importantly the enormous impact his life and papacy have had not only on the Catholic Church but on the wider world.
"His legacy? A purified Church; a reinvigorated Church; a truly universal Church; a Church committed to ecumenical dialogue and to the defence of the dignity of the human person."
Harry Conroy, editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, said the Catholic community was "absolutely devastated".
"There will be a lot of grief among Catholics who will be praying for the Pope and his soul at this moment," he said.
Other religious figureheads also paid tribute. Dr Alison Elliot, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: "When I was in Rome at Cardinal O’Brien’s elevation, I was struck by the personal affection the crowds of pilgrims had for Il Papa.
"This touches them more deeply than the passing of a distant leader. He had an extraordinary capacity to relate to people at the grass roots and to inspire them."
Scotland’s political leaders recalled the effect of the Pope’s visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1982. First Minister Jack McConnell said: "Pope John Paul will be sadly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Roman Catholic community at this difficult time. Most Scots have fond memories of his visit to Scotland in 1982 when he captured the heart of the nation."
SNP Leader Alex Salmond MP said: "In Scotland, we remember his groundbreaking visit of 1982. I recall the late Cardinal Winning explaining to me the impact of that visit on the Catholic community in Scotland - how the Pope raised spirits and gave renewed confidence to the community here and to the hundreds of thousands of Scottish Catholics.
"I also know that when Pope John Paul returned to Rome he made regular and particular mention of the wonderful reception he had received in Scotland, which he regarded as a ‘filia specialis’ [‘special daughter’] of the Church.
"His decision to stay at the Vatican over his final illness was deeply symbolic and the dignity and serenity with which he faced death were a triumph over suffering and pain.
"All of us have gained strength and hope from the example set by Pope John Paul in his approach to both life and to death."
Scottish Conservative Leader David McLetchie said John Paul II was a "rock" who won the respect even of those who held conflicting views. "John Paul II was an inspirational religious leader admired by Catholics and non-Catholics alike for his integrity, the strength of his convictions and his courage in proclaiming his beliefs without regard to the shifting sands of fashionable opinion," he said.
"He was truly a rock who won the respect even of those who disagreed with him.
"He will be particularly remembered for the role he played in bringing freedom to his native Poland and the other countries of Eastern Europe from the tyrannies of communism and for his fearless commitment to human rights throughout the world."
John Reid, secretary of state for health, who met the Pope in December 2000 when he was Secretary of State for Scotland, said: "John Paul took the papacy out to the world.
"His travels brought people together. His message reached across religious and geographical borders."
• Buy Scotland on Sunday to read about the extraordinary life and times of Pope John Paul II
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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