International Information Programs
April 7, 2005

April 7, 2005





**  A "great apostle of freedom," he fought against "social injustice and moral degradation."

**  Writers praise the Pope's efforts to "build bridges with other faiths."

**  Liberal outlets criticize the "ultraconservative" Pope for being "harsh and archaic."

**  Dailies advise the next Pope to be "more progressive" and less tied to "moral absolutism." 




A 'Vatican superstar'--  The Pope's "extraordinary faith, dignity and courage" spurred Spain's conservative ABC to call him "the most important man of our time."  His "charisma and consistency" led Argentina's leading Clarin to dub him a "transcendent figure."  France's left-of-center Le Monde acknowledged the "universal tribute" accorded the Pope for his "key role in ending the Cold War," his "deep antipathy to all forms of oppression," and his "profound humanism."  Conservative dailies such as the Australian praised the Pope's stand against the West's "materialism and permissiveness."  Leftist papers lauded his opposition to "savage capitalism" and "categorical rejection" of the U.S.' "imperial wars."


'Transcending differences in religions'--  Non-European media stressed the Pope's "commitment to religious tolerance."  Nigeria's independent Guardian hailed his "impressive ecumenical spirit," while the independent Korea Herald noted his "untiring efforts to reconcile with other religions."  Center-right Pakistan added that his "views won over the hearts of not only Christians, but Muslims and Jews as well."  Other Muslim observers welcomed the Pope's "extensive support for the people of Palestine" in the struggle to create a "just and durable peace" in the Middle East.  Qatar's semi-independent Al-Raya cited his opposition to the separation barrier erected by Israel to explain why his death is a "great loss" for Arabs. 


A 'rigid and doctrinaire' Pope--  Leftist outlets criticized the "ultraconservative" Pope for his "morally uncompromising attitude" and his "authoritarian style of leadership."  Kenya's left-of-center Nation labeled him "impatient, even intolerant of dissent," while several papers assailed his "crusade against condoms":  Britain's left-of-center Guardian stated that ending this ban "might have saved countless Catholics in the developing world from an agonizing AIDS death."  Other dailies focused on the "wide gap between his creed" and "what ordinary Catholics practice," which has left the Church in a state of "stagnation and recession."


Successor faces 'painful challenges'--  Many papers urged the next Pope to accommodate the "great need for reforms" in the Church, which must "meet the challenges of the modern era."  Turkey's economic-political Dunya wondered if the Church can "find ways to adapt Catholic dogmas to the constantly changing realities of the world."  Germany's right-of-center Die Welt questioned "to what extent the papacy is able to change."  Latin and African observers urged Rome to consider non-European candidates.  Noting that almost two-thirds of the world's Catholics live in developing countries, they said Europe has no "proprietary claim over the papacy."  South Africa's liberal Star opined the next pope "should be African."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 119 reports from 42 countries over 2 - 7 April, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Are We Hypocrites To Mourn The Pope?"


The left-of-center Independent wondered (4/5):  "It's a sobering and depressing thought that this quarter century of galloping materialism, increasing inequality, continual war, institutionalized corruption, pathological narcissism and paralyzing self-regard, has managed to be what it is, even with a towering spiritual and moral presence among us, preaching against all of it, traveling the world tirelessly to spread that message, and never wavering in his expression of those core beliefs....  How can Western civilization have held this man in such high regard, while pretty much thumbing its nose at all of his most deeply felt advice?  Are we a planet of total hypocrites?  Or are we just confused?"


"The Limits Of Autocracy"


An editorial in the left-of-center Guardian read (4/5):  "Although the Roman Catholic church is constitutionally incapable of democracy, its claim to have a universal message for humanity can be taken seriously only if that message is reasonably credible everywhere.  John Paul II's gift was to make the message seem personal to all he talked to.  A doctrine that is credible only inside the walls of the Vatican does no service to his memory or his church."


"John Paul II Breathed Life Back Into A Divided Church"


The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (Internet version, 4/4):  "The curtain has fallen on the drama of a pontificate that marks an epoch, not only in the history of the papacy, but in that of Christianity.  His words and deeds will be remembered for as long as the Roman Catholic Church endures; indeed, it can only be a matter of time before his name is added to the canon of saints, to whose numbers he added more than any other pope.  This, though, was a pontiff whose life resonated far beyond the ecclesiastical realm.  John Paul II defied the vast empire of the Soviet Union...and played a decisive part in its overthrow.  He challenged the secular Zeitgeist of the West, and forced the world to confront inconvenient questions of faith and morality that had previously been relegated to obscurity.  He commanded, not universal agreement, but universal love; and he was revered by all who admire the triumph of humanity in the face of adversity....  He leaves unfinished business for his successor, who may have to make even bolder decisions than he did.  But this Pope is not merely a hard act to follow:  in the entire annals of the Church, it is hard to find a more formidable, a more memorable or a more lovable figure."


"The Pope Has Blood On His Hands"


Terry Eagleton, professor of cultural theory at Manchester University, wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (Internet version, 4/4):  "John Paul II became Pope in 1978, just as the emancipatory 60s were declining into the long political night of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.  As the economic downturn of the early 70s began to bite, the Western world made a decisive shift to the right, and the transformation of an obscure Polish bishop from Karol Wojtyla to John Paul II was part of this wider transition.  The Catholic church had lived through its own brand of flower power in the 60s, known as the Second Vatican Council; and the time was now ripe to rein in leftist monks, clap-happy nuns and Latin American Catholic Marxists....  As a prelate from Poland, Wojtyla hailed from what was probably the most reactionary national outpost of the Catholic church....  Once ensconced in power, John Paul II set about rolling back the liberal achievements of Vatican II....  One of his prime aims was to restore to papal hands the power that had been decentralized to the local churches....  Bishops were summoned to Rome to be given their orders, not for fraternal consultation.  Loopy far-right mystics and Francoists were honored, and Latin American political liberationists bawled out....  It was at just this point...that the child sex abuse scandal broke.  John Paul's response was to reward an American cardinal who had assiduously covered up the outrage with a plush posting in Rome.  The greatest crime of his papacy, however, was neither his part in this cover up nor his Neanderthal attitude to women.  It was the grotesque irony by which the Vatican condemned--as a 'culture of death'--condoms, which might have saved countless Catholics in the developing world from an agonizing AIDS death.  The Pope goes to his eternal reward with those deaths on his hands.  He was one of the greatest disasters for the Christian church since Charles Darwin."


FRANCE:  “Communication and Globalization”


Jean-Claude Kiefer in regional Les Dernieres Nouvelles d’Alsace wrote (4/5):  “This ‘policy of communication’ completely breaks with the traditional caution of the Vatican and puts religion in tune with globalization....  World leaders have understood (such media attention): Catholic or not, they will almost all attend the funeral on Friday. Among them, George W. Bush, the very Christian American president whom the Pope brought up short by publicly condemning the war in Iraq....  Compared to the dimensions taken on by the death of the Pope, certain quarrels seem ridiculous. Some, in France, complain because the secular Republic has lowered its flags for a religious leader (who is also a head of state)!  They forget that Jean Paul II did more for the image of France, when followed by television during his visits, than all their (secular) speeches combined. And they forget the very Catholic burials of our deceased Presidents of our very secular Republic.”


"A Citizen Of The World"


Michel Schifres wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (4/5):  “We are astonished by the impact of the Pope’s death around the world....  An impact which serves to illustrate the aura of a universal man....  Other deaths in the past have elicited similar popular fervor: the death of John F. Kennedy, Gandhi....  But these did not have the same universal nature....  In a sense we must go back to the tragedy of the Twin Towers on 9/11 to find a comparable emotion....  All continents without distinction of race or religion are expressing the same compassion and the same sadness for the passing of a man who was the leader of the Catholic Church and an icon for the rest of the world.”




Patrick Sabatier noted in left-of-center Liberation (4/5):  “Our faith in reason needs to be strong in order not to be overwhelmed by the waves of holy water and idolatry inundating us....  Compassion for the man, tolerance for all religions and the fact that this Pope has played a political role is not enough to keep us from shuddering at this universal tribute and at the stifling of any criticism of his accomplishments, which were far from perfect. John Paul II was a ultraconservative whose use of the religious stick is emblematic of all forms of religious fundamentalism which plagues humanity.”


"A Universal Emotion"


Left-of-center Le Monde declared (4/5):  “A global emotion is today’s response to the passing of John Paul II....  Worldwide coverage has in a sense temporarily erased the ‘shock between civilizations'....  Few experts could have predicted the coverage which Al-Jazzira and Al-Arabiya have devoted to the story....  The media is fascinated with this figure who soon became the icon of a global people in search of references and in search of a father figure....  John Paul II was an eminently political Pope who sought to go beyond the borders of religion....  The world today is paying him a universal tribute.”


"Difficult To Replace"


Left-of-center Liberation commented (4/3):  "Ever since his unexpected election and until his last agonizing moments, he was simply the most photographed and the most filmed person in the world.  With its venerable but dusty image, Catholicism had a problem of visibility.  John Paul II, whose 15 minutes of fame lasted a quarter of a century, brilliantly solved this problem.  As an actor, facing the zoom lenses, he will be difficult to replace."


GERMANY:  "Power Beyond His Death"


Christoph von Marschall judged in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (4/6):  "There is no doubt that this pope will radiate an extraordinary degree of power beyond his death.  Not only because the most prominent wedding of this year will be postponed because of the funeral or because the most powerful leaders on earth will attend his funeral....  As far as politics are concerned, time will tell whether the dead pope can even decide elections: in Poland in June.  The interest in the pope is so great that people wonder whether there has been a week in which he exerted an even stronger influence.  For days, if not weeks, the 1.2 billion Catholics, but also many non-Catholics, have followed the events in Rome, which they did not show towards the Pope and his doctrines when he was alive....  To put it in pathetic words:  mankind is witnessing these days its most devout hours of the past 20 years and probably for the coming ten to twenty years--or at least a great curiosity in faith.  And only if the coming pontificate lasts so long as this one, the development could be the same.  But the shorter it will be, the more people will live who will consider the situation when the next pope dies only a repetition of well-known things.  But now these days, which are full of rituals and traditions that many people no longer understand, will also be a crash course on Christianity....  With his death the pope creates an attention for his church, which this church did not have for a long time.  What a chance to bind people, who have become hopeless, to his church.  Will it be able to take advantage of it?  Pope John Paul II is no longer there to do this.  He like no other church leader was able to approach the people."


"A Pop Star"


Right-of-center Hamburger Abendblatt opined (4/6):  "The pope a pop star, a media icon?  There are many comparisons because the man from Krakow almost professionally sought the public and used it as an instrument for his church.  With his numerous trips abroad, the Vatican superstar achieved with the greatest of ease what dictatorships would achieve only by using force: to unite masses in faith.  Pope John Paul II's theological critics often turned it into an orchestrated personality cult.  This was not to the detriment of the credibility of his life and not of his dying either.  On the contrary, especially because of this credibility, the pope has turned into an anchor in a world that lacks orientation and faces previously unknown challenges."


"A Different World"


Center-right Neue Westfälische of Bielefeld editorialized (4/5):  "The new pope will find a different world than Karol Wojtyla when he entered office 26 years ago.  There is no longer an Iron Curtain that separates the West from the East.  Instead terror is threatening the people.  The U.S. superpower is trying, if necessary by using force, to assert its ideas of freedom and democracy like during a crusade.  On the other side, we have religious fanatics like Islamists, who call for the destruction of the unfaithful."


"Roman Construction Site"


Gernot Facius judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (4/5):  "John Paul II created facts.  The new pope must also have the talent to convey the Gospel in a media-effective manner, and the world will measure him against the media figure Karol Wojtyla.  But before this new pope will be able to develop new visions for a church of the future, he will have to see to it that the unrest in today's church comes to an end.  An increasing number of Catholics thinks that the reverence of the pope should not replace an open climate for discussions....  The list of controversial issues that have been passed on from one pope to the next is long....  These issues cannot be resolved bureaucratically, but can be resolved only in a collegial discourse with the local churches all over the world.  But even more important is the question to what extent the papacy is able to change.  The kind and the style of exercising the office will be decisive for regaining the unity among Christians.  Reformist churches in particular expect answers from Rome.  The ecumenical movement owes a lot to John Paul II, but the great breakthrough did not take place.  The future Pontifex Maximus will take over an open construction site."


"How Many Voters Has The Pope?"


Georg Paul Hefty said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/5):  "Pope John Paul II left the world, but mainly Europe, a powerful legacy....  He has become one of the 'shapers' of the 21st century.  Our world would be different...if the pope had not initiated since 1978 the turnabout of 1989....  It is the legacy of John Paul II that there are almost no more dictatorships in the Christian world regions, while dictatorships are able to stay in power or extend it in the non-Christian countries....  He chiseled his religious truths in stone: these are the recommendations of Peter's successor:  follow them or leave them, I will continue to stick to them.  Would it have been possible to criticize U.S. President Bush because of the Iraq war and the bloodshed of many innocent people if he had not insisted at the same time on the protection of life in the case of unborn life, of people who were sentenced to death or on people who lived in a persistent vegetative state?  Who, if not the church and its religious leader can take a fundamental look at things and tell the world what it should do?  A freedom loving state and a democracy cannot and is not allowed to do this....  Despite the enormous funeral procession and the participation of mourning office-bearers, for instance, the U.S. president cannot....  Pope John Paul II is no longer important but his successor is. The ground has been prepared, the seeds have been sowed.  But it is not predestined whether the seed will bear fruit or raw material for industry.  The future of Europe will not be decided by Stalin's stupid question of how many divisions the pope has but by the question that is much more decisive for western democracies: 'How many voters does the pope have?'  If there are too few, others will triumph, irrespective of whether these are ideologies or other confessions."


"The Fallible Pope"


Matthias Dobrinski stated in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/5):  "The pope's historic, outstanding services are undisputed...but during his pontificate of 26 years, numerous problems have accumulated that are now coming to the fore and that need to be resolved.  The charisma of the suffering pope hushed up the mildew that has been covering the Catholic Church.  Under communicator John Paul II, the communication culture in the church suffered....  The relationship between theology and teaching professions has been damaged, and those who think freely and do research are faced with clerical forced measures.  It is impossible for theologians to defend themselves against accusations, because they do not have a chance to examine records....  And among the people who consider themselves to be good Christians and who honestly mourn the pope's death, there is only a minority who follows papal instructions....  The future Catholic church and its new pope will face tough tests.  There is a great need for reforms....  It must find a new relationship between reforms and non-adjustment, it must improve structures...maintain Pope Paul II's legacy...and break up rigidities....  But a pope need not be able to achieve everything.  The era of charismatic figures like Karol Wojtyla will come to an end even in the Catholic Church.  This need not be bad if the insight gains the upper hand in the leadership of the Church that a all sides involved are able to find a common path."


"A Rock"


Center-right General-Anzeiger of Bonn editorialized (4/4):  "This pope was a rock.  Many criticized him for this, but every one could rely on him.  Whether he defended the celibate as a conservative, refused to allow women to act as priests and forced German bishops to respect his decree on the advice of pregnant women, or whether he, who considerably contributed to eastern Europe's liberation from Soviet rule, called upon the world to abide by peace and even did not shy away from criticism of the government of a Christian America.  This pope was primarily credible with his piety, his unswerving resolve to stand by his convictions, and with his bravery.  The reverence many young people had for him is closely linked to his credibility.  Even though they celebrated his person more than his doctrine, they knew:  this man is genuine."


"An Enormous Loss"


Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung argued (4/4):  "For the church, Pope John Paul II's death is an enormous loss.  The shocking and agonizing pictures of his suffering will stay in the memory not only of the faithful.  But after the awed silence, which this pope really deserves, and after the upcoming unavoidable years of reverence, during which no one will initiate any reforms, discussions in the Catholic Church must be resumed.  It was exposed for much too long to a doctrine from the top to the bottom, a kind of one-way communication.  Behind John Paul personality, too many questions remained unresolved.  They can now be tackled.  The Pope in the Catholic Church is not everything."


"Vatican Fell Back From Fresh Spirit"


Centrist Badische Zeitung of Freiburg opined (4/4):  "This pope did obviously not realize that poverty and overpopulation, for instance, in wide parts of Africa could have something to do with his crusade against condoms and the pill.  He swept aside pastoral care for people who married again after they were divorced....  In John Paul II's long pontificate, the Vatican thus fell back behind the spirit of a new beginning, which Pope John XXIII used to convene the Second Vatican Council in order to blow a fresh wind into the old walls of the church.  To renew this impulse courageously and with the faith in God, this will be the prime task for the next pope, irrespective of the Karol Wojtyla's outstanding services."


ITALY:  "Bush In Prayer Before Wojtyla"


Antonio Signorini noted in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (4/7):  “For the first time in history, a U.S. President kneeled before the body of a deceased Pope. Last night George W. Bush paid an unexpected visit to the Vatican immediately after arriving at Fiumicino....  It was a 'strictly personal’ visit....  Bush’s presence in Rome is a way of underscoring the current administration’s attention to the Catholic Church. It was a symbolic act, in the wake of the U.S. president’s last visit to Karol Wojtyla following the tension over the war in Iraq, when the Pope was awarded the ‘Medal of Freedom,’ the highest honor of the United States. But the Rome trip will also be an opportunity to take stock of the post-war situation (in Iraq). Bush and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will undoubtedly discuss Iraq during a dinner tonight at Villa Madama as well as in this morning’s meetings with President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi....  The Bush-Berlusconi meeting will also provide an opportunity to discuss the Nicola Calipari case.”


"America Kneels Before The Pope--A Prayer For The Enemy Of War"


Francesca Caferri held in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (4/7):  “George W. Bush came to Rome to pay homage to one of his harshest critics, as well as one of his most valuable allies. Last night, shortly after his arrival at Fiumicino, Bush went to St. Peter’s, where he kneeled before the Pope who more than anyone else had questioned his moral authority. It’s the first time in history that an American President kneels before the body of a deceased Pope.”


"The Planetary Pulpit"


Alberto Ronchey wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (4/6):  “The life of the Polish Pope will be remembered as an historical-political compendium of the last century, first under Nazi and Stalinist domination, and later in continuous pilgrimage among the masses of our times....  Finally, he exercised great caution to avoid religious wars vis-á-vis the rise of an aggressive Islamism, from the Arab world, to Pakistan, and Timor. Despite ups-and-downs, brave risks and tenacious dogmatism, he was able to demonstrate in world vision the immense power of a modern geo-political papacy.”


"The Great Horizons Of John Paul II"


Nicola Tranfaglia opined in pro-democratic Left Party (DS) L’Unità (4/5):  “The model of wild capitalism and the theory of pre-emptive war that Wojtyla had always rejected, thereby putting himself on a collision course with President Bush and other rightist leaders, cannot be objectives for the Church of Rome that is closest to the world’s poor, in the continents that the Polish Pope visited the most. In this sense, it is not difficult to predict that the Conclave which will begin in the coming days will give way to a fierce confrontation between those who are in line with Wojtyla and those who in these years looked toward more narrow and limited horizons.”


"My Encounters With The Pope”


Bruno Vespa held in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (4/5):  “Anyone who filed before him was aware they were in the presence of a saint...who will gather millions of pilgrims around his tomb. But, above all, he is a giant who has left a greater mark in history than any of his predecessors and will now compel the Holy Spirit to an extraordinary act of ability to find a successor that will keep us from missing him too much.”


"The Defense Of Life Will Be Key To Conclave"


Fabio Isman argued in Rome-based center-left Il Messaggero (4/5):  “There are certain novelties in Wojtyla’s papacy that will have to be further applied, continued, perhaps even further developed--like inter-religious dialogue; political relations (but religious as well, as this is still completely absent) with the Jewish world, that has for some time been contemplating the existence of diplomatic relations and it has taken, thanks to Pope Wojtyla, significant steps forward; the culture of peace, which this Pope was deeply committed to; ecumenical relations.”


"The Warrior Saint"


Enzo Bettiza commented on front page of centrist, influential La Stampa (4/4):  “Many today strongly participate in the Pope’s no--who treated American and Russian presidents as his equals--to the armed intervention in Iraq.  But I’ve read almost nothing on Wojtyla’s continuation of the fight against Communism in the version that was Nazified by Tito’s Serbian heirs....  He made the world understand that the politics of peace should not be confused with generic pacifism and in case of horrid shame, like Vukovar or Srebrenica, such politics should and must also be pursued with weapons.”


"Spectacular And Passionate"


Leading Corriere della Sera commented (4/3):  "He was indeed one of the men who had the greatest influence on the history of the 20th century.  Just as he influenced the first years of the 21st....  If with the Second Vatican Council the Church entered the modern world, with the pontificate of John Paul II the church became one of its leading players."


"Epic Splendor"


"Pro-democratic Left Party (DS) L'Unitá had this to say (4/3):  "Who will ever be able to don the same epic splendor--spectacular and, in short, passionate, triumphant and sacrificial--in which John Paul II clothed himself?"


"A Shining Meteor"


Left-leaning, influential La Repubblica editorialized (4/3):  "In a certain sense he was a shining meteor, a resplendent comet in transit, behind which the darkness has quickly closed.  A pope is dead and another is elected, and so the Church has survived for 2,000 years and will continue for much longer.  But the leaves of the tree are yellowing, and the roots sinking into a soil that is ever more sandy and impoverished."


RUSSIA:  "Passing Bell"


Vadim Markushin said in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (4/5):  “The new leader of the Roman Catholic Church will, in large measure, determine how relations develop between multi-confessional Russia and Europe.  Political and public discussions often focus on the morality underlying symbols of faith.  John Paul II was good at finding points of contact, emphasizing what brought people together, which won him indisputable authority worldwide.  It is to be hoped that the pontiff’s successor will make a worthy contribution to unifying people on the basis of common human values.”


"Pope’s Policy Not Good To Russia"


A. Safarin wrote in nationalist pro-opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (4/5):  "The Russian press and politicians have joined the chorus of voices eulogizing the late Pope and his reign.  (Given the amount of material on this subject, one might think Russia no less Catholic than Poland.)  True, the Pope disapproved of the U.S. intervention in Iraq and called for a just Palestinian-Israeli settlement as defined by the UN.   Also, in the 1980s the Catholic Church contributed to dismantling apartheid in South Africa.   But assessing the role of the Vatican under Pope John Paul II from the standpoint of Russia’s interests shows it wasn’t good to this country and its allies in the Slavic world.”


"Pope Dead"


Reformist Vremya Novostey commented (4/4): “No doubt, John Paul II was super-, even a megastar.  Aware of that, he used his incredible popularity as a pastor.  His is the kind of popularity that goes far beyond the Catholic world.  He spoke a language anyone could understand.  The Polish-born Pope is unique, perhaps, in that his popularity is commensurate with his great contribution to both the church and human progress.  This had a direct bearing on Russia, as the Pope’s role in destroying communism was enormous....  John Paul II gave hope and a sense of freedom to millions of people in Eastern Europe....  Having no tanks or cruise missiles and without firing a single shot, that man with a noble but simple face has become one of the greatest personalities in world history.  He had the courage to apologize for his church’s sins and was the first pontiff to enter a synagogue and mosque.  Not a mere citizen of the world, he was its live symbol, linking countries, continents, races and religions.  Encompassing an epoch, he made history.”


"Great Man"


Mikhail Pozdnyayev stated in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (4/4):  “The Pope moved the heart of mankind, which is as big as this planet and incorporates individual, at times hopelessly callous, hearts.  He showed the world what a great miracle and power a loving heart is."


ALBANIA:  "Power Of Charismatic Pope"


Mustafa Nano wrote in independent, top-circulation Shekulli (4/3):   "Many things can be said about John Paul II....  It can be said that he was the first non-Italian pope after 455 years, the first pope to enter a synagogue, or a mosque, or that he has traveled around the world more than any other pope.  It can be said that on one hand he was a conservative and traditionalist; a reformer on the other, but what is remarkable about him is his charisma and his spiritual beauty....  Pope John Paul II often took stands that could be interpreted in many ways, so much so that there were people who saw him aligned on the right of the political spectrum, and others who saw him aligned on the left.  As any mortal human being he must have had his uncertainties that will surely grow many times over for future popes, regardless of their unshakeable faith and doctrinal militancy that accepts little of these uncertainties.  The impetuous development of science that contrasts with the unchangeable Catholic dogma, the unstoppable secularization of societies, the drastic fall in church attendance, the decrease in the number of priests, the delicate and complex relations among religions, and a hardly comprehensible global world--all these are painful challenges for the Vatican.  Pope John Paul II's life and work showed that the strength of the doctrine and the strength of faith alone are not sufficient to cope with these challenges."


AUSTRIA:  "Who Defeated Communism?"


Managing editor Eric Frey observed in independent Der Standard (4/5):  "The death of Pope John Paul II kicked off a debate that should have begun 15 years ago:  Who and what caused the collapse of communism?....  Simply to say that détente and rearmament were both necessary elements in the victory over communism is not a satisfactory answer. After all, both camps worked against each other and regarded the other as fundamentally dangerous. However, it is also not enough simply to opt for a single interpretation of historical events. The late Pope with his mix of pacifism and morally uncompromising attitude offers a middle way and an exit route to this dilemma. His message was a declaration of war on tyranny, by peaceful means. However, this is not a patent formula for the fight against dictatorships either. Without his special charisma, Karol Wojtyla would not have been able to prevail over the Kremlin. And there are too few outstanding personalities for us to rely on them."


"John Paul, The Great?"


Walter Friedl speculated in mass-circulation Kurier (4/5):  "The superlatives now being used everywhere in the world to describe the impact of Pope John Paul II must not tempt people to go for instant canonization. It is not by chance that, so far, the church has mostly taken its time over such matters and examined the individual cases carefully....  To be sure, the model function of Karol Wojtyla for a truly Christian life--one of the criteria for canonization--is undisputed. Whether he has also worked miracles--another criteria--is a different matter. At any rate, those responsible should exercise restraint in the face of all the Popemania that has even increased since the death of John Paul II. For all his wondrous deeds, not all is what it seems to be:  There was standstill in the reconciliation with the Protestants; in Latin America, evangelical sects are on the rise, ousting the Catholic Church; the churches in Europe are visited by fewer and fewer people; and with regard to sexuality and women's issues, Rome is still deeply stuck in the beginning of the last century. And John Paul II reigned more like a rigid monarch than a participating reformer. Nevertheless, his pontificate was epoch-making. Should he be canonized?  Perhaps. However, this ought to be thoroughly examined. The Church, it is often said, thinks in terms of centuries. What then do a few years or decades more matter? Such a way of proceeding would lend more weight to John Paul, the Great than a fast action?"


"Initiator And Guardian"


Chief editor Gerfried Sperl commented in independent Der Standard (4/4):  "John Paul II was not the first pope to intervene in world events; he was not even the most remarkable with regard to his theological positions.  What makes this Polish pope's politics and philosophy so unique is charisma and consistency.  He could move mountains.... If John Paul II had not survived [the assassination attempt against him], the revolution in Eastern Europe would possibly have happened much later or not at all....  His uncompromising belief in the primacy of life, however, has another side to it, too:  rejection of abortion, birth control pills and condoms....  His strict 'no' to birth control pills, and especially to the use of condoms, met with massive lack of understanding--also within the Catholic Church.  The condom ban prevents humanitarian progress and testifies to the misery caused by fundamentalist positions.  The Pope never thought much of Western-style liberal democracies. That is not the way the Church works, and wishy-washy attitudes were foreign to John Paul II...  His anticommunist attitude and his opposition to dictators did not prevent him from maintaining a firm rule in Rome and implementing important reforms....  It will be impossible to find someone who can 'follow in Wojtyla's footsteps.'  Any successor will have to avoid even the appearance of wanting to copy John Paul II."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "For Us Atheists John Paul II Was A Great Opponent/Rival/Adversary"


Lubos Palata opined in center-right Lidove noviny (4/5):  "Although I am an atheist, as is the case of most Czechs , I often and gladly listened to John Paul II.  Many times it was not possible for us to agree with him, however, it would have been unwise not to pay attention to what he said.  Through him, the wisdom of thousands of years spoke to us; wisdom that we sometimes did not perceive as correct, but which led us to assess and rethink the things we did....  Some may claim that he was the leader of humankind.  I, as the representative of 'non-believers,' add that he was not and could not be the leader of today’s world....  He led his world of belief often against our world and sometimes prevented it from moving forward toward the 'horizons' set by our growing self-confidence and knowledge.  Oftentimes his views were our adversaries and conflict was imminent.  John Paul II was, however, a wise leader of the Catholic people.  To us atheists he gave wise questions and challenges that this world will miss."


HUNGARY:  "Wojtyla’s Revolution"


Foreign affairs editor Gabor Stier pointed out in right-of-center Magyar Nemzet (4/5):  “Accelerating communism’s decline as a catalyst, he did not need military divisions to overcome communism. Not much later he declared war on capitalism, then severely and relentlessly criticized the imperial wars of America that had been left dominating the global political scene. He did so in defense of general human values.”




Foreign affairs writer Oszkar Fuzes opined in top-circulation, center-left Nepszabadsag (4/4):  "Most of the Church dignitaries are God’s representative in front of the people--now there was one who was, although not the opposite, but the reverse of it.  He represented us in front of the Almighty, and with an emphasis on representing not only his own followers, but also the entire mankind.  What’s more, with a spectacularly easy credibility, he represented mankind itself, or at least what is its essence:  dignity.  As a Church dignitary, human dignity, and vice versa--in all possible and impossible situations.  He put himself on display, allowed itself to be a topic for the media, even when exhausted, prostrate and crippled.  His long and public agony was the last service showing that no one, ever, for any reason can deprive man of his dignity, whether he believes it to be from God or not."


IRELAND:  "Pope John Paul II -- Conscience Of The Christian World"


The left-of-center Irish Examiner editorialized (4/4):  “In his utterances, which sought always to redress injustice, Pope John Paul II was a champion of the socially marginalized and those suffering under harsh and inhumane regimes throughout the world....  Such was the influence of his authority, and the stature he commanded, that even China, which broke off relations with the Vatican in 1951, expressed concern for his well-being....  The Pope served his pontificate in a time of fundamental change in the world, both in politics and society; the former he would have influenced, the latter he abhorred in many respects and resisted without ambivalence.  His was an authoritarian style of leadership and the centralization of power in the Vatican ensured that any semblance of dissent from traditional Catholic thinking was never entertained....  He remained an unrepentant arch-conservative in matters theological....  However his decades in the Vatican are viewed and evaluated, the late Pope cannot be faulted for bringing a more human aspect to the papal role for the world’s one billion Catholics.”


"Year Of Triumph And Controversy"


The center-right, populist Irish Independent observed (4/3):  “On abortion and the right to life he was at one with his flock in not yielding an inch.  On issues such as clerical celibacy and women priests he was equally rigid, but here many Catholics felt able to openly disagree with him.  However, it was his continued apparently unreasoning opposition to artificial contraception which brought him into most conflict.  He was accused of being ridiculous and out of touch with reality.  More seriously, he laid the church open to the charge of not caring for the potential millions of victims of the AIDs epidemic, especially in the Third World.  And while he was emotionally close to the poor and downtrodden of the world, he was adamant that it was not the business of priests to get mixed up in left-wing politics by indulging in liberation theology....  In an era of globalization, where mass media reduced the planet to a village, the Papacy could easily have fallen behind this technological rush and become irrelevant.  In the hands of a less vibrant and dynamic Pope, it would have.  But John Paul II relished the challenge of modern communication and travel, and by skilful use of both made himself the most widely recognized person on the planet....  He also showed a recognition that the future of the church depends greatly on its development in the Third World.  This is probably his greatest achievement, and to build on it will be a major challenge to his successor....  On the one hand the reign of Pope John Paul II has been a triumphant one; on the other it has sometimes been controversial and divisive.  And whether or not historians eventually look back and declare him John Paul The Great, there is no doubt that the last 27 years have been as near to a golden age that the Roman Catholic church can ever again hope to achieve.”


LATVIA:  "Do Not Be Afraid"


Aivars Ozolins opined in independent, centrist Diena (4/4):  "The life of Pope John Paul II provides a convincing answer to the question of the role which an individual can play in history.  When Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became the head of the Roman Catholic Church in 1978, this coincided with the beginning of historical political changes in the world.  The strength of his person and his moral authority, which stretched far beyond the church, facilitated and sped up these changes....  Trust, reconciliation and forgiveness--that is a message which John Paul II always proclaimed beyond the borders of states, nations, denominations and religions.  In 2000 he publicly apologized for the mistakes which the Catholics had made over the course of 2000 years and the offenses which they had committed.  He forgave the murderer who tried to kill him in 1981.  He was the first pope to visit a mosque and a synagogue, the first to say that anti-Semitism is a sin 'against God and man.'...  Russia and China remained the two countries which the pope wanted to visit but which did not agree to receive him.  The pope was no pacifist, and he did not deny that countries have the right to defend themselves, but he always did speak against war as a way of resolving conflict....  The pope was a radically liberal person when it came to human freedoms and human rights, but he was always conservative on issues of church doctrine....  Just as strictly as he once opposed Communism, he objected to the social injustices of capitalism and to what he called the 'culture of death' of Western materialism.  The pope always drew a line between religion and politics, however, and he stressed that a clergyman must care about social justice, but it would be inappropriate for him to become involved in politics....  It is not possible to deny the massive influence which he had on the historical changes that took place toward the end of the last century.  These, in the most direct way, influenced the lives of millions of Europeans."


POLAND:  "The Immortal"


Editor-in-chief Marek Krol wrote in centrist Wprost (4/4):  “The era of John Paul II closed the 20th century, the century of contempt for the highest values, the century of the Holocaust and mass crimes perpetrated through the inhuman laws of fascist and communist regimes.  ‘How many divisions does the Pope have?’ Stalin once asked, not concealing his contempt for the faith and the Church.  The era of John Paul II showed the power of papal divisions, which changed the world without the use of force.”


"Poland Was Given The King It Dreamed Of"


Editor-in-chief Adam Michnik observed in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (4/4):  “We lived in the era of John Paul II...the Pope who changed the Catholic Church, changed Poland, changed the world....  He knew personally the two most atrocious demons of the 20th century--Nazi totalitarianism and communist totalitarianism.  The shadows of Auschwitz and Kolyma were ever-present in his teachings.  Therefore he understood the horror of dictatorships, and this intimate link that binds the lie with violence.”


ROMANIA:  "Loved But Inflexible"


Adrian Patrusca noted in independent Ziua (4/4):  "There is no place here to discuss if or how much a Pope (or an Orthodox Patriarch) can afford to be flexible, adaptable and modern--only if the Church has to be flexible.  Pope John Paul II never passed beyond rock music in his flexibility.  Despite this, young people loved him, in a sincere and unselfish way.  It seemed to be a strange and apparently illogical thinking, because the Pope took away from them the thing that seemed to them the most valuable--sexual freedom.  He criticized homosexuality, he asked them for abstinence before marriage and fidelity after that.  This is a draft portrait of John Paul II.  I did it because it seems to me that the funeral tends to be transformed into a media show, having almost no connection with Pope's personality, but being more and more politicized.  I tried to recall what kind of Pope are we mourning.  And when we talk about antifascism, anticommunism, pacifism and 'fundamentalism,' let's remember that Pope John Paul II, that everybody praised and everybody mourns, was like this."


"A Campaigner For Peace"


Cristian Grosu opined in independent Cotidianul (4/4):  "[The pope] He was the only man who, in the dust of the empires falling apart around him and in the middle of the bloody disputes for a new world order, succeeded in gathering the world around a risky and ideal message:  the one for peace.  He has found, supported and imposed this solution.  Maybe today the world is not safer than in the moment he took over this solution; but this world is certainly more convinced that salvation is still possible, and that there is a place for God in a society anesthetized by consumption and a moral relativity.  And inside a humanity mad for competition, the single alternative is cooperation."


SPAIN:  "Contradictory Charisma"


Left-of-center El País opined (4/5):  "The Pope's 26 years of pontificate, one of the largest in history, is difficult to define.  Time and distance are needed to value and judge it.  It was paradoxical and contradictory....  Many things made us think that we were before the first Pope of modern progressiveness.  But this was not to be....  Little by little, the signs of his conservatism started to appear, in dogmatic and moral matters....  In the delicate field of ecumenicism, he also had contradictions....  John Paul II leaves Catholicism with more worldwide visibility. He reinforced it through his travels....  On the contrary to what public opinion might believe, the Vatican practice today is not to think immediately on the name of a new Pope. In the first moment, the Cardinals, that must be talking among themselves...will have to reach an agreement over what kind of Church they expect....  Only after agreeing on this point...will the moment to think on a name come. They will not forget more earthly interests, such as the fear of electing a young Pope...nor the fear of electing a Cardinal from a politically weighty country, nor the temptation to return to the tradition of preferring Italian Popes, considered more diplomatic and with less prone to surprises.  The long illness, as well as the power vacuum in the Catholic Church, with a leader that can't govern, will force his successor to reconsider the possibility that the next heir to Peter can and must renounce himself at such a time that his physical strength can't allow him be at the head of the Church."


"A Pope For Eternity"


Conservative ABC took this view (4/3):  "The life has just ended of probably the most important man of our time, a pope for eternity, a pontiff who came from the East-- from the other half of Europe--a man who conducted one of the longest and most innovative papacies in terms of doctrine and pastoral action in the history of the Church."


"An Unbending Traditionalist"


Independent El Mundo concluded (4/3):  "The late pontiff was unbending in his defense of the Church's traditional teachings...categorically rejecting abortion and divorce...a conservatism that went hand-in-hand with a progressive position in defense of human rights, in criticizing dictatorships and in the fight against poverty."


TURKEY:  "After The John Paul II"


Mehmet Aydin contended in Islamist-intellectual Zaman (4/6):  “John Paul II, known as a dynamic, tolerant, moderate pope, was made a beloved figure both in the Catholic and Protestant worlds.  During his term, a Jewish Synagogue and a magnificent mosque for Muslims were built in Rome.  This was a strong indication of his commitment to religious tolerance.  His death has caused a profound sadness all over the world.  We have been watching masses of mourning and prayer for him in St. Peter’s Square, and we feel solidarity with those who have gone there....  The Vatican, meanwhile, is now busy with choosing a new pope.  It is more important than ever before that the new pope is a democratic, tolerant peacekeeper who is open to dialogue rather than an aggressive, ideologically-obsessed fanatic.  A good selection would make a significant contribution to world peace.”


"John Paul II"


Ergin Yildizkan observed in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (4/6):  “The timing of choosing the new pope is very important.  John Paul II was a pope of the power (‘instrumentum regni’).  It remains to be seen whether the new pope will manage to be a pope of love and justice (‘instrumentum Christi’)....  John Paul II stood against the Iraq war, but that can be seen as part of the cultural power struggle between Catholics and Protestant Evangelists.   The new pope will serve in a highly critical point in international affairs.  The Bush administration is trying to pursue an imperial policy, so the stance of the new pope is very important for Washington.  The Bush administration might run into difficulty trying to implement its imperial policies unless it has the stamp of approval of the Vatican....  Nevertheless, there seems very little hope that the new pope will be the ‘instrumentum Christi.’”


"The Last Pope Of The 20th Century"


Haluk Ulman commented in economic-political Dunya (4/5):  “The Catholic world is mourning the Pope and also watching the process by which their new spiritual leader will be elected.  It will be interesting to see whether the new pope will be an Italian, a Latin American, or a black African.  Tettamanzi, an Italian Cardinal, is believed to be a leading candidate but the final choice remains to be seen.  As has been seen in the past, the election of a pope is often a surprise....  There is no longer the ‘communism issue’ for the Catholic church to worry about.  The current challenge before the Catholic Church is to find ways to adapt Catholic dogmas to the constantly changing realities of the world.  The Pope and the Cardinals will have to deal with certain issues completely outside of the tradition of Catholic conservatism, including illegitimate marriage, abortion, gay relations, and the marriage of religious leaders.”


"John Paul II Was Different From The Others"


Mehmet Ali Birand contended in mass-appeal sensational Posta (4/5):  “John Paul II served for 26 years, and he was a very different kind of pope.  First of all, he was the first non-Italian elected to head the Catholic Church in 455 years.  During his term, he visited 125 countries.  One of John Paul’s primary objectives was to promote harmony among religions.  The first thing he did upon arriving in a foreign country was to kiss the ground.  It really did not matter if it was a land of Muslims or Buddhists.  He focused on the importance of human beings more than anything else.  He always believed that reconciliation between religions would ensure peace.  John Paul II was the most approachable and ‘people-friendly’ pope in history.  He was never afraid of walking among the crowds.  He was always shaking people’s hands until he was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca.  His personality and his actions restored the Vatican’s reputation.  He succeeded in reconciling millions of people from different religions.  The world has lost a very important spiritual leader.”   


"Pope John Paul II Brought Many Firsts"


Zafer Atay wrote in economic-political Dunya (4/4): “The Pope brought some important ‘firsts’ into the Catholic tradition.  Most importantly, he ended the tradition of electing only Italian popes.  He also traveled widely and presented a vigorous image instead of being simply a spiritual leader who defined his role within the confines of the Vatican....  The Pope’s leadership was key in establishing an inter-religions dialogue.  He managed to reduce tensions significantly between the Orthodox Churches and the Vatican.  He apologized for oppression carried out by Catholics over history.  He established close contacts with the Muslim world as well....  He also was a pioneer in leading international campaigns against poverty, famine, and terrorism.  It was Pope John Paul who showed an immediate reaction against terrorism and condemned it right after the terrorist attacks in Turkey.”




ISRAEL:  "Anti-Semitism Is A Sin, He Said"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (4/5):  "Forty years ago, during the papacy of Paul VI, the Vatican published a revolutionary Nostra Aetate that spoke for the first time of the deep connection between Judaism and Christianity and the importance of opening a dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jews.  But John Paul II was the one who translated the dead letters of a document accepted only by a minority into an open, warm and personal statement toward the Jews and the State of Israel.... The establishment of relations between the Vatican and Israel in1994 had significance far beyond its diplomatic import.  With this act, as with his visit to Israel afterward, the pope not only recognized Israel's sovereignty, but also put an end to a 1,500-year-old Christian doctrine that viewed the Jews' continuing exile as a key proof of the validity of the Christian faith.... In Europe, which is undergoing a process of secularization, a new anti-Semitism is sprouting, while in Russia, the old anti-Semitism is reemerging in full force.  In this situation, the views of John Paul II, who defined anti-Semitism as 'a sin' and 'evil,' were a source of hope.  The question of continuity and the fear of a retreat from the path he blazed also have diplomatic significance.  The Vatican is expected to play a role in any future resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, primarily on the issue of Jerusalem.  And its attitude toward Israel and the Jews will dictate its policy."


"Pope John Paul II"


The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/4):  "The pope who called Jews his 'elder brothers,' who placed a message of atonement in the Western Wall, and who opened relations with the Jewish state, will be remembered with affection and admiration by the Jewish people.  It was hard to fail to be touched by the compassion and dignity of this man who, though he represented one religion, came to symbolize the religious spirit to people of many faiths.  It was, if anything, a measure of the respect Jews had for him that, despite his many efforts to extend a hand in friendship, it was also difficult not to be disappointed that his moral leadership did not extend further in our time of need.  We would not have expected as much from a lesser pope....  In just these few words, the pope affirmed the Jews' status as the chosen people, asked for forgiveness, and pledged Christian brotherhood with Jews--all wrapped not just in a dry statement, but in a profound and personal gesture....  Pope John Paul II was a great man and a friend of the Jewish people....  We hope that the next pope will honor his legacy by continuing in his footsteps and showing even greater moral leadership with respect to Israel and bringing Jewish-Christian relations further into a new era."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Low Tolerance"


London-based pan-Arab Al-Hayat stated (4/4):  "Pope John Paul II struggled throughout his life for the sake of the freedom of mankind, human rights and co-existence. But he ran the church with an iron fist, characterised by little tolerance for independent opinion or interpretative judgements. Therefore he left the church in a state of stagnation and recession."


JORDAN:  "Honouring The Legacy"


The elite English-language Jordan Times maintained (4/4):  "When Pope John Paul II visited Jordan in 2000 as part of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he found then a Middle East in a rare moment of optimism.  At the time, there was an Israeli decision to finally execute a long-delayed troop redeployment from the West Bank. Forthcoming also was a summit between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak....  When he arrived in Amman, the pontiff told His Majesty King Abdullah: 'Your Majesty, I know how deeply concerned you are for peace in your own land and in the entire region'....  Those words still ring true. And the history that was then has changed little, save for the death of some of the key players at the time.  Today, as the world mourns the passing away of Pope John Paul II, the Middle East stands at yet another threshold of an elusive peace....  There is hope for change in the region but, at the same time, a feeling of deja vu, of a cycle that annoyingly repeats itself and gives way to pessimism.  We must overcome that and strive to attain, through peaceful means, a balance of power and some degree of democratization in the Middle East if the legacies of enlightened figures like the Pope and Hariri are to be honoured. The means are there, but is the desire?"


QATAR:  "Pope Stood For Justice In A Troubled World"


The semi-official English-language Gulf Times held (4/4):  "Religious and political leaders of the Islamic world yesterday joined in the chorus of tributes to Pope John Paul II....  The Pope's death was a loss for the Muslim world, as well as for Christians....  From the perspective of the Arab world, it was important that Pope John Paul spoke on many occasions in support of what are often described as Arab causes. The Pope’s statements, coming as they did from a top religious authority from outside the Muslim faith, showed clearly that these were just causes, not merely partisan issues as enemies of the Arabs often like to imply.  Very often, the Pope’s determined adherence to what he believed was just set him at odds with political leaders in the West. Thus, he denounced the apartheid barrier Israel is building in the West Bank with the tacit support of the US. He opposed the war on Iraq and was outraged by the atrocities at Abu Ghraib....  At a time when extremists and bigots were attempting to foster a ‘clash of civilizations’ between the Islamic and Christian worlds, the Pope joined Muslim leaders in a dialogue of peace....  There are already voices suggesting that he was too illiberal in his doctrines and that the Church would benefit from a less conservative leader....  In the Arab world, the hope is that the next Pope will be no less committed to peace, the dialogue between faiths and the support of just causes than John Paul II was."


"Qatar Pays Tribute To Pope"


The semi-independent English-language Peninsula commented (4/4):  "Qatar yesterday said it has received with grave sadness news of the death of Pope John Paul II and offers the Christians, believers in celestial religions and to workers for peace, justice and freedom in the world, the most heartfelt condolences in this great affliction.  Qatar, which has found Pope John Paul II, an effective partner when Doha hosted the conference of dialogue of religions on spiritual values and moral standards, wishes not to miss bringing to attention, while bidding farewell to the deceased, what the holy see, had undertaken for the first time in the Vatican’s history, to deepen relations of cooperation and rapprochement and dialogue between Christianity and Islam.  We shall not also forget at all, the noble historical stances, the Holy See, took on the Palestinian cause and contributions he made to the search of peaceful and just solutions.  Qatar, which had with the Vatican state the best of cooperation relations based on mutual trust and respect, would continue to pursue this path in the good and interest of Islam, peace and progress in the world.  Muslims round the world praised Pope John Paul for having pressed to build bridges with Islam and said his death had cost both faiths a campaigner for peace and justice.  Noted Islamic scholar Dr. Yousuf Al Qaradawi yesterday sent a message to the foreign ministry of the Vatican expressing his condolences over the demise of Pope John Paul II on Saturday.  Dr. Qaradawi, in his message, lauded the positive role played by the Pope over issues related to Islam. He said he sent the condolence on behalf of Islamic scholars.”


"With The Christians In Their Crisis"


Semi-independent Al Watan contended (4/4):  "The death of Pope John Paul II was a loss of a religious leader who supported higher human values, just Arab causes and dialogue among civilizations.  Pope John Paul II succeeded in erasing the mistrust that marred Christian-Islamic relations for centuries and has earned a place in history as crusader for reconciliation and peace.  The Arab world will not forget his position on the Middle East crisis and Iraq, noting that his opposition to invasion and occupation of Iraq angered the United States, which sought a moral justification for occupying that country.  Pope John Paul II should be praised for the good relations he maintained with the Islamic world and for his more than 20 visits to Islamic countries, and as the first pope to enter a mosque.  We hope that his successor will continue the same course.  The condolences which Sheikh Yousuf Qaradawi offered and the words he gave as a tribute to the late Pope reflect the true and real image of Islam as a great religion.  We offer our condolences to our Christian friends all over the world.  The memory and deeds of this Pope will never be forgotten.”


UAE:  "For Peace And Freedom"


The English-language expatriate-oriented Gulf Today held (4/4):  "The world will accept the legacy of Pope John Paul II...for he was the kind of leader that the Roman Catholic Church may never have had in its more than 2000 years of history....  What the world beyond all religious borders would remember him for is not merely what he did for the church alone, but for what he did to uphold the dignity of human life, for the sacred values of family, peace, love and above all, for human rights....  Critics attacked his authoritarian style and his staunch support to conservatism on sensitive social issues. However, nobody can blame the pope for going against the historical mission he was entrusted with.  John Paul II was probably the most revolutionary pope....  John Paul II became a revolutionary for the sake of human freedom and dignity that was not just for the sake of the church. It may be an oversimplification that he was described as one of the main architects of the fall of communism in Europe....  His later missions and campaigns as head of the church showed that the fight was against anything that challenged freedom, dignity and peace.  John Paul II never flinched from questioning wrongdoing....  That was what that made him take on the most powerful country in the world when it broke all international laws and launched a war on innocent people. The pope's opposition to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and years ago in the Falklands, was totally based on the one principle he always held close to heart--that wars do not bring peace, only dialogue and negotiations can solve conflicts....  The pope's campaign for human rights was not defined by any religious edict. He dared oppose Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and the building of the separation wall in the West Bank. He repeatedly called for justice and equality in bringing peace to the conflict-ridden Middle East. For this alone will the world always remember John Paul II as a fighting revolutionary priest."




AUSTRALIA:  "John Paul II Broke The Papal Mold"


The conservative national Australian observed (4/4):  "Almost 26 tumultuous years later, he is for millions of adults the only pope they have known and loved....  We located the one of the key figures in the most significant geopolitical event in the second half of the 20th century: the fall of communism and the reunification of the divided Europe....  But the Pope was of course a religious, not a political figure, and once communism had been relegated to history's dustbin he was often severely critical of the materialism and permissiveness he saw in the West. His focus was on spiritual questions and on church doctrine. While his policies in these areas--in particular on questions such as priestly celibacy, contraception, homosexuality and the ordination of women--were deeply conservative and aroused controversy, he was in other ways a radical figure. No pope had anything like his ecumenical drive or showed such warmth towards other religions: he was the first in his line to enter a synagogue or a mosque. He issued a historic apology for the past sins of the church....  While he criticised capitalism's excesses, for the first time this pope placed individual economic initiative at the forefront of social betterment. Perhaps most significant, he used his inquiring mind to fashion a rapport between belief and reason, faith and science....  This then was no ideologue....  Now another conclave must find a man who can prosper even in this man's shadow. The issues that will confront him are enormous ones....  The 117 members of the College of Cardinals...will also wonder whether any candidate can bring to the papacy the charisma, the rapport with young people and the sheer sense of fun that were the core of John Paul II's success....  Let's be clear on this one thing: we shall not see his like again."


"Divided Legacy Of The World's First Global Pope"


The liberal Melbourne-based Age opined (4/3):  "The first global Pope had a remarkably public life, and a remarkably public dying....  History will judge him a great Pope, for his many outstanding qualities and achievements, but his failures have also been on an epic scale. His legacy is deeply divided.  Karol Wojtyla has been a man of straight lines and clear verities, not of nuances or flexibility....  He has been a doughty champion of human rights, a voice for the voiceless....  Nor was democracy immune: he also stood against what he saw as the spiritually bankrupt philosophies seizing the post-Christian West: materialism, consumerism, relativism....  He opened the church to dialogue with other religions, especially Islam, and the Eastern Orthodox church....  It is in the internal dealings with the church that the verdict is much less certain....  He entrenched Vatican authority and centralised decision-making to an unprecedented degree--and, some would argue, to the great detriment of the Catholic Church. Dissenters from his narrow, traditional view have been marginalised....  He never understood modern, secular, pluralistic democracy. As a result, the church in the West has diminished numbers and a diminished voice, while Islam advances....  The challenges of the 21st century clearly require a different man with different skills. He will not dismantle John Paul II's legacy, and changes in key areas will be incremental and slow, but they must happen....  He will have to be alert to the challenge of Islam...because the faultlines where the two religions meet can be flashpoints for violence....  He must be flexible on re-examining doctrines that are not core teachings, such as clerical celibacy and married priests....  The world must hope that the cardinals can find a successor with the personal qualities of John Paul II--the integrity, the deep and committed faith, the courage and even the political acumen--but a man for these times and these challenges."


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Keep Politics Out Of Religion"


Frank Ching maintained in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (4/6):  "Hopefully, the Pope's death, and the emergence of his successor, will provide an opportunity for the question of relations between the church and China to be visited anew.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, while expressing his condolences, said Beijing was willing to improve relations with the Vatican if it met two preconditions.  The central government has said the Vatican must break diplomatic relations with Taiwan and, second, it must promise that it will not interfere in China's internal affairs, including any intervention under the pretext of religious affairs.  It is extraordinarily arrogant for Beijing to set such conditions for improving relations at a time when it is supposedly expressing condolences over the Pope's death....  The Catholic Church sees itself as a universal church, and it is rather difficult to be universal when cut off from one-fifth of humanity.  While the People's Republic is only 56 years old, Chinese civilization dates back several thousand years, and Catholicism has a history of more than 2,000 years.  It is a pity that these two ancient entities are unable to set aside their differences."


"Hope That The New Pope Can Normalize Sino-Vatican Relations"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (4/5):  "The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Catholic groups mourned the death of the Pope.  They hope that the next Pope will make an effort to improve Sino-Vatican relations.  In fact, Pope John Paul II did apologize for the mistakes committed by Christians against China....  Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that the Chinese government insisted on two principles in dealing with Sino-Vatican relations, which were for the Catholic Church not to interfere in China's religious affairs and for the Church to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan.  China hopes that under the leadership of the new Pope, the Vatican can create conditions for improving Sino-Vatican relations."




Pro-PRC Wen Wei Po declared (4/4):  "The two basic principles which the Chinese government upholds in handling China-Vatican relations are consistent: First, the Vatican must break 'diplomatic' relations with Taiwan, and recognize the People's Republic of China government as the sole legal government representing China; second, the Vatican cannot use religion to interfere in Chinese internal affairs... The Vatican should respect and safeguard China's core national interests and stable development, and take practical action in these two aspects to eliminate the basic barriers to improving China-Vatican relations."


"Do Not Interfere"


Pro-PRC Ta Kung Pao editorialized (4/4):  "As a country, the Vatican must first establish diplomatic relations with China, must recognize 'one China', break all diplomatic relations with Taiwan; in addition, the Vatican must not use religious activities to interfere in China's internal affairs... It is hoped that the new pope can make a breakthrough and contribution on the issue of China and the Vatican establishing diplomatic relations in future."


"Farewell To A Giant"


Hong Kong's mass-circulation, Chinese-language Apple Daily held (4/4):  "Of course, John Paul II's views on some social issues and social policies such as abortion, contraception, the family, gay marriages and so on will be seen as conservative, and will be seen as not keeping up with changes in society.  But compared with his achievements in inspiring the people to get rid of communist regimes, his help in overthrowing communist tyrannies and his efforts to assist the disadvantaged masses, these disputes are really not worth mentioning.  We deeply believe that the just departed Pope John Paul II was certainly no 'useless servant' as he said, but a giant who let thousands upon thousands of people cast off the shackles of tyranny."


"Leaving This Mortal World, Entering Immortality"


The Chinese-language Sing Tao commented (4/4):  "Political relations between China and the Vatican have not yet been normalized.  John Paul, who visited five continents and more than 100 countries during his lifetime, once expressed a wish to visit China, but the result was that he was not fated to even step foot in Hong Kong, but these were the limitations of history and of the objective environment.  This is regrettable, but it should not harm the appraisal of him."


TAIWAN:  "New Pope May Favor PRC Ties At Expense Of Taipei"


The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post concluded (4/6):  "Whoever succeeds the recently deceased Pope John Paul II as the next leader of the Catholic Church is likely to renew talks with Beijing to establish diplomatic relations as one of his priorities.  Should renewed talks lead to an exchange of recognition between the two sides, it would be a serious political blow to Taiwan, as the Vatican is the island’s sole diplomatic ally in Europe....  The Holy See has essentially suspended its efforts seeking better Beijing relations in the last two years or so due largely to the poor health of the late Pope.  Now a new pontiff, likely to be elected by the College of Cardinals within the next two weeks, may respond to Beijing’s recent call and resume talks.  But it might not be that easy for the two governments to resolve those basic differences unless they are able to work out resolutions or are willing to make mutual concessions.  Still, the prospect of any renewed Beijing-Vatican talks deserves close attention by Taipei.  It may even behoove it to carry out some proactive diplomacy.”


JAPAN:  "Death Of Pope John Paul"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (4/4):  "Let his hopes for peace pass to the next generation.  His words and acts, which stemmed from lessons gleaned from Europe's unhappy history, moved the world by transcending differences in religions....  History will remember him as a man who boldly challenged the dictatorial rule of communist parties in the Soviet bloc, which eventually led to its downfall....  The pope also went further than his predecessors in holding dialogue and preaching reconciliation with other religious sects like the Eastern Orthodox Church and with Islamic leaders....  Pope John Paul was also vigorously opposed to solving conflicts through military force. Until the very last moment, he was against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. We assume he could not tolerate the spilling of more human blood because of a conflict between Christianity and Islam.  But there was one wall that he could not surmount, even at the cost of defying his advanced age. He crisscrossed the world so much that his papacy was characterized as a traveling pontificate....  He was unable to reconcile with the Russian Orthodox Church even after the breakdown of the Soviet Union. He was also unable to mend fences with the Communist government in China, which prohibits propagation of religious faiths.  Pope John Paul was extremely conservative in religious norms and morals. He did not recognize birth control or contraception. He would not condone homosexuality, nor the priesthood of women. There was a wide gap between his creed and the world's reality.  And yet, Pope John Paul's achievement were not impaired by such matters. His words and acts, which stemmed from lessons gleaned from Europe's unhappy history, moved the world by transcending differences in religions.  We sincerely hope that his aspiration for peace will be passed to the next generation."


"The Passing Of A Giant"


The liberal English-language Japan Times declared (4/4):  "The death of Pope John Paul II closes a remarkable chapter in the history of the Roman Catholic Church....  He was a world historical figure who played a key role in ending the Cold War and re-establishing the Catholic Church as a force in politics and international affairs. Yet for all his dynamism and readiness to challenge secular authority, the pope was also rigid and doctrinaire....  He preached reconciliation. Throughout his papacy, John Paul reached out to Jews....  He became the first pope to enter a mosque....  The most traveled pope in history, he visited more than 120 countries, ranging from traditional Catholic nations, such as the Philippines and Mexico, to Japan....  John Paul's primary concern was the soul. He denounced communism, consumerism, arms races, and denials of human rights for their deadening effect on humanity. He preached a conservatism--a moral absolutism--that left no room for the compromises of modernity....  Yet the firmness that many applauded and clung to was criticized as doctrinaire by others....  Many Catholics challenged his views on contraception, abortion, euthanasia, female priests, homosexuals and divorce, arguing that modern life demands new doctrines. The pope refused to bend. Thus, as the Roman Catholic Church found many new converts in the developing world, it came under increasing pressure in developed nations to adapt. His successor will inherit this tension, but he is unlikely to depart from John Paul's position.  History will look kindly on John Paul. He helped change the world for the better. He provided an energy, a solidity and a foundation for an institution that was divided and moribund. He has earned his rest."


MALAYSIA:  "Improve Understanding"


Lokman Othman noted in government-influenced Malay-language Utusan Malaysia (4/5):  "As archbishops from all over the world gather together now in Vatican City to pay their last respects to John Paul, politicking regarding who will be the incoming pope has also started....  [The new] pope and his cardinals need to be able to see the world and global humanitarian issues in a more subjective way through accurate analyses and interpretation. The efforts of Pope John Paul II to improve understanding and religious dialogues ought to be followed up."


"The Stance Of Pope John Paul II Wins Respect"


Markus Lim wrote in Malay-language government-influenced Utusan Malaysia (4/4):  "The passing of Pope John Paul II...was mourned by millions....  Following his appointment, the world witnessed John Paul II's stand on various issues, such as restoration of Islamic-Christian relations and opposition to the Iraq war. It also saw him as a protagonist of universal peace. His stand was admired and respected not only by Christians but also by Muslims around the world....  John Paul II's style was he preferred to interact and hold dialogues in order to solve conflicts....  Throughout his life, the deceased also sparked various controversies by carrying out a variety of renewal programs that were at times not received with ease by his own followers.  This included, for example, his stand to declare the appointment of female priests illegal. He also declared abortion, homosexuality, and divorce illegal, and stood against the decline in wholesome traditional family values.  John Paul II will be remembered as the first Catholic leader in history to step into the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus, Syria....  He also invited the leaders of other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, as well as Hinduism to Assisi, Italy to pray together for universal peace."


"He Opened A Window To Religious Peace"


Top-circulation Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily noted (4/4):  "The late John Paul II has opened a window for world religions to live peacefully together.  Even if his effort to visit a Damascus mosque in 2001 and his appeal to both Muslims and Christians to forgive one another and live peacefully together was a symbolic one, his determination to resolve conflicts between the West and the Islamic world and the conflict between Israel-Palestine have left behind a path for his successor to follow.  At this juncture, we sincerely hope that the new Pope to be selected, besides continuing the peace efforts made by the late John Paul II, would also look into the unfinished task of reforming the Catholic world and streamline the policy on abortion, the role of women in churches, and the issue of singleness of priests in the modern Catholic society."


PHILIPPINES:  "Apostle Of Freedom And Dignity Of Life"


The independent moderate Philippine Star editorialized (4/4):  "Back in the days when the world had two superpowers, an archbishop little known outside his country dared to speak out against the oppression of communism....  The archbishop quickly became a powerful voice for democracy not just in Poland but throughout the rest of Eastern Europe, bringing a message of love and hope....  The success of the democracy movement in Poland and the fall of the Iron Curtain owed much to that voice from the Church that would not be stilled. A papal visit to the Philippines at the height of the Marcos dictatorship would also inspire the democracy movement....  As Pope John Paul II prepared for death, mourning was profound in the nations where he bequeathed his legacy of freedom.  In the years after winning that war, John Paul had another message to his flock: the value of life even amid great suffering....  Suffering, he taught his flock, was a part of life, as much as freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Suffering, he taught, was an offering to Christ, who suffered and died for the salvation of others. The Pope made no effort to hide his deteriorating condition from the world. He seemed to exult in showing that he was fighting a battle for survival, that each time he awoke to a new day was a victory.  Last Saturday night in Rome, Pope John Paul II lost that battle, but his message will endure. Filipinos join the world in mourning the loss of a great apostle of freedom and the dignity of life."


"A Man Of Faith"


The widely-read center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer asserted (4/4):  "John Paul II was the first pope of the digital age, but he held a faith that can best be described as ancient....  This paradox...explains why his papacy...was both extraordinary and riven with controversy.  He believed in the power of the Christian faith to make a difference in the modern world....  But he also believed in the provenance of the Christian faith, and to the dismay of many liberal Catholics, refused to add to the dogma he had inherited....  But even his most ardent critics saw him as a man of authentic conviction. And in his last days, he reunited the Catholic world through his very public suffering, drawing it closer....  His role in world history will take center stage in much of this week's post-mortem coverage....  The Pope's triumphant visit to Poland in 1979, when the Soviet empire was at its peak, was a turning point. It led directly to the founding of Solidarity the following year, and then to other reform movements elsewhere in communist Europe. Amazingly, in only a decade, the empire was reformed out of existence....  His principal legacy may well lie in the most controversial aspect of his papacy: the way he preserved, but did not add to, the deposit of faith.  Again, paradox describes him best.  He held the record for many extraordinary firsts: the first to pray in a synagogue, the first to visit a mosque, the first to preach in a Protestant church. And yet many found him unresponsive to radical change within his own Church....  These paradoxes, however, are just that, apparent contradictions, because in John Paul II's historic papacy, they all came together in a bold, coherent, life-changing faith."


SINGAPORE:  "A Pope Of The Times"


The pro-government Straits Times said (4/5):  "Pope John Paul II's ministry embraced most things of consequence to modern life. Most of his work would stand as a memorial to his humanism....  That would be saying a lot for a first-rank leader of a powerful nation; for the apolitical spiritual head of a religion, it is unusual. But this is the 2,000-year-old Roman Catholic Church one talks about. With the end of John Paul's generation-length reign, younger people in many parts of the world are learning for the first time how a religious institution organized so differently from the other great faiths can have such catholic reach. He had the humility to admit that ungodly acts had been committed in ages past by upholders of the faith....  The Pope's contrition in setting Catholicism's historical record straight was honest, if inevitable, in a time of growing skepticism towards organized religion....  Theologians are surmising that the new pope will have to confront two profound issues. One is how far the Vatican should engage the Muslim world to extend John Paul's inter-faith dialogue to enhance understanding. This is necessary to reduce the dangers of religious conflict. John Paul had been the first pope to enter a mosque, but what should follow? The answer would be of greater import than Catholicism's reconciliation with Judaism. The other is whether the new pope would be forced to choose between Gospel purity and dire need. This is about the stand on bioethics in an utterly scientific age which usually advances at the expense of religious belief, as everyone knows."


SOUTH KOREA:  "Pope John Paul II"


The independent English-language Korea Herald noted (4/4):  "People of different faiths also mourned the death of a man who inspired them with extraordinary faith, dignity and courage. The pope was not just a shepherd of the Catholic Church; he was a great leader revered by people across religious and political differences....  The pope was well known for his untiring efforts to reconcile with other religions, promote peace on the globe and improve social justice and human rights. He is credited with helping topple communism in his native Poland and other former Soviet-bloc countries.  Pope John Paul traveled extensively to preach peace and reconciliation and fight against social injustice and moral degradation....  His two visits deeply impressed the Korean public as well as Catholics. He inspired us with a message of peace, love, reconciliation and unity of the mankind. His message will be long remembered in the minds of the Korean people. We pray for the repose of the great soul."




INDIA:  "Papal Legacy" 


An editorial in the centrist Statesman read (4/6):  "During his 26-year reign, Pope John Paul II set many records....  His impact on the world stage was considerable, not only for his much publicized role in the fall of Communism in the East bloc but also for his genuine attempts to forge world peace and build bridges with other faiths that made him the first Pope to step into a synagogue and a mosque. The bold decision to apologize for the Church’s sins and errors invoking the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Holocaust lent a dramatic note to the last years of his papacy....  The hype and PR skills that marked John Paul II’s papacy, however, cannot blur his deep-rooted conservatism. His staunch opposition to abortion (even for victims of rape) and contraception in any form...did not earn him much support. His refusal to discuss the issue of ordination of women priests or recognize homosexuality angered many of his followers. That he said a firm no to the concept of married priests even when the Vatican was confronted with embarrassing disclosures about rampant paedophilia in Catholic churches made his stand seem more unreasonable....  His successor...will have to carry on a legacy that opened up the hitherto closed Vatican to the world but prevented any ideological debate from entering its portals. He will have to bow to change to keep the Catholic Church alive even as he follows his predecessor--a genuine man of God with an unflinching faith in the essential goodness of humankind.”


"Holy Father"


The centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph held (4/4):  "John Paul II’s impact on the history of the 20th century went far beyond the sacred. Like Popes in the medieval and Renaissance periods, John Paul dabbled with vital pieces of history. The Solidarity movement in Poland was born with his blessings and it will not be an exaggeration to say that the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism in Europe would not have happened--or happened as swiftly as it did--without the intervention of the pope. John Paul II did this quietly as an extension of Christ’s work on earth. He worked also to heal the breach between Christianity and Judaism: he prayed in Auschwitz and at Yad Vashem. He pledged friendship to the ‘people of the Covenant’, and in 1994, Israel and the Holy See exchanged ambassadors. When, in a few days’ time, a sliver of white smoke comes out of a chimney of the Sistine Chapel, the man whom the cardinals will elect as pope will have a difficult act to follow. In devotion and in service to humanity, John Paul II strove to be the imitation of Christ.”


"Pope John Paul II" 


The Bangalore-based left-of-center Deccan Herald observed (4/4):  "The passing away of Pope John Paul II marks the end of an era. John Paul II’s papacy was historic in many ways....  However, it is his attempt to reach out to other faiths that would certainly be his most remarkable contribution....  He was a passionate advocate of peace and nuclear disarmament and led the Vatican’s campaign against the war on Iraq.  But John Paul II’s papacy was not without controversy. His critics have pointed out that while he supported movements against totalitarian governments, he ruled the Catholic Church with an iron hand. He concentrated power in the Vatican and is said to have appointed yes-men to key positions. Moreover, he was an extreme conservative on theological and social issues and was intolerant of dissent within the Church. His opposition to abortion, birth control and divorce as well as his resistance to women becoming priests drew criticism that he was out of step with the times....  There is a growing demand that the Church needs to be more progressive and the new Pope must take steps to win the confidence of women."


PAKISTAN:  "Death Of Pope John Paul: A Word For The Catholic World"


Karachi-based, pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu-language Islam asserted (4/6):  "The 84-year old Pope John Paul II, who hailed from Poland, was the first non-Italian pope in the last four hundred years history of Christianity.  During his 26-year tenure big wars were fought in the world in the name of Christianity among which the Cold War between the U.S. and former Soviet Union, and the U.S. crusade against Muslims after 9/11 are worth mentioning.  If the Pope John Paul’s era is analyzed in relation to Islamic World, then it was not so exemplary.  When the U.S. President announced a crusade against the Muslims after 9/11, the Vatican did not take any note of it.  Although the Pope opposed the Iraq war at a later stage after seeing its opposition from the European countries, he did not make any effective and elaborate effort to stop this war, despite being the highest religious personality of Christianity.  Earlier in the nineties, the Vatican did not take any notice of the Catholic excesses against Muslims in East Timor, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Chechnya but, in fact, encouraged this."


"Pope John Paul II: An Advocate Of Peace, Love And Dialogue"


Afzaal Rehan declared in center-right Urdu-language Pakistan (4/5):  "We can say with complete confidence and certainty that Pope John Paul was the least controversial and most beloved person in the present-day world.  It is very unlikely that anyone would ever have harbored any grudge against him; he was kind to the extent that he forgave the person who tried to kill him, and embraced him in jail.  The biggest proof of his popularity is that his views won over the hearts of not only Christians, but Muslims and Jews as well."


"Pope John Paul II And His Era"


Ataur Rehman said in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (4/5):  "Pope John Paul visited Muslim countries also.  And as per routine, uttered benevolent comments.  When President Bush launched an unlawful attack on Iraq, he criticized it quietly.  But beyond this, he never took concrete steps to end the increasing tension between the Christian and Muslim world whereas he could have done much more using his influential personality."


IRAN:  "Pope's Death"


State-run Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1 said (4/3):  "The pope's role in the developments of the past 26 years in the important and praiseworthy because he was take the message of justice, peace, the struggle against poverty, and the condemnation of war to the world. Calling on the true followers of Christianity, and supporting the notion of inter-faith dialogue, he played a progressive role in the fight against injustice....  The role of the pope during the communist rule in East Europe and the former Soviet Union, too, is significant from the point of view that despite the extensive anti-religious propaganda in those countries, he always defended and guarded Catholic traditions....  By strengthening the notion of dialogue among the various tendencies of Christianity and supporting dialogue with other divine faiths, he promoted peace in the world.  This was so much so that the pope's extensive support for the people of Palestine and his opposition to occupation and criminal activities of the Zionist regime is the best example of his efforts in fighting injustice in the world. This shows that the pope, during his 26-year religious life, not only promoted the Christian notion of devotion to freedom and justice, but also tried to play a significant role in attracting the attention of the world to the existing challenges of the world."


"Religion's Importance"


Reformist Sharq commented (4/3):  "What made him different from the previous popes was his awareness that religion had a determining role, as a moral force, in political life."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "The Next Pontiff"


The liberal Star commented (4/6):  "Catholics around the world are wondering what their new leader’s attitude will be to a range of issues...while this is going on, calls are being made--including by our own Anglican Archbishop Tutu--that the Roman catholic Church’s 264th leader should be African. The only realistic African candidate is Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, who would become the first African Pope in 1510 years....  Arinze...has spent two decades under tutelage of the late Pope John Paul III in the Vatican and is versed in his ideals. Africa, Latin America and Asia jointly account for 65% of the Catholic faithful and perhaps the time has come for the pope to emerge from there.”


"Yes To African Pope"


The conservative Citizen argued (4/6):  "Suggestions that the Catholic Church is not ready for an African Pope or that Europe holds some proprietary claim over the papacy, is invalid. Almost two-thirds of the world’s Catholics live in developing countries and there are about 136 million Catholics in Africa making up 17% of world wide membership.”


"John Paul Aborted Reform In Church"


Balanced financial Business Day stated (4/6):  "Pope John Paul II determined early in his pastorate to restore order and discipline to the Roman Catholic Church....  He moved to restore obedience to the Catholic tradition....  It is hard not to conclude that the Pope’s project was unsuccessful. Surveys in many Catholic countries suggest his campaign against chaos may have increased the chaos. Most catholic continue to accept the core doctrines of the faith...but they reserve the right to make up their own minds on issues of sex and gender. However glorious John Paul’s pontificate may have been...his successor will inherit a polarized and fractured church, but one made up of hundreds of millions of loyal Catholics who will not leave, even if the leadership tries to throw them out.”


"John Paul II"


Balanced financial Business Day held (4/5):  "If there is any issue on which the church will continue to face severe challenges, it is on contraception and its rejection of the use of condoms to help slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS....  So as whe world's cardinals gather to choosea a new successor, they would do well to seek a leader who will continue the postive aspects of John Paul's tenure....  But equally, the next pope will have to lead a deep interrogation for how the church can best meet the challenges of the modern era." 


"Light Of The World"


Andrew Kenny wrote in the conservative Citizen (4/5):  “One man used nothing bother than moral force to defeat Communism, and to bring a new sense of tolerance and hope to people around the world....  He brought a much-needed stability on which his successor can decide the future direction of the church....  He was the greatest human being active in my lifetime.  He was a light of the world.” 


"Pope Deserves A Worldwide Eulogy"


Moderate Pretoria News noted (4/5):  “In spite of his criticism, the world will remember him as the man who had no fear to speak against evils of war and poverty as well as his outspokenness over apartheid and communism, which he has been credited with bringing down in his homeland, Poland.” 


"Pope John Paul II"


Liberal provincial Cape Times maintained (4/5):  "There have been suggestions that the election of another non-Italian pope would now be appropriate given the growth and importance of the church in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  The Catholic Church has seldom in its long history undertaken sudden, dramatic changes in direction....  But having once elected a Polish Pope, why not an African now?” 


KENYA:  "The Pope Was A Great Revolutionary"


Macharia Gaitho, Managing Editor, concluded in the independent left-of-center Nation (4/5):  "I am not a Roman Catholic....  But I recognise the recently departed Pope John Paul II as one of the great world figures of modern history.  That recognition is his role as a most influential global politician and statesman.  John Paul was the Pope who took his office out of the cloistered confines of the Vatican and thrust it bang to the centre of the geopolitical stage....  In my youthful naivete, I would be frustrated that the Pope did not use his immense influence in support of liberation wars everywhere. In fact, he deliberately put a brake on the activities of South America's radical liberation theologists who were leading a just cause against the oppressive and corrupt dictatorships at the head of regimes very much like those in most of Africa.  Yet the Pope eventually came to play a great role in sparking the calamitous events that freed Eastern Europe from the grip of the Soviet empire.  The domino effect was felt in Africa and the rest of the world.  This was a great and largely bloodless revolution that first kicked off in Poland...and spread like bushfire....  It can thus safely be assumed that the interventions in the political arena that helped deliver us all from one-party dictatorship had the direct backing of Pope John Paul II.  For that, alone, we owe him a debt of gratitude."


"A Pope Apart"


The independent, left-of-center Nation observed (4/3):  "Of course, John Paul has been impatient, even intolerant of dissent throughout his papacy....  This single-minded zeal is what has set this pope apart from other contemporary religious leaders, many of whom find it prudent to make social or political compromises in the world."


NIGERIA:  "Pope Of Hope"


Okey Ndibe commented in the respected Lagos-based independent Guardian (4/7):  "As deeply committed as he was to the salvific mission of his church, the late pope was possessed of an impressive ecumenical spirit as well as a profound desire to heal the wounds wrought on the human race by rabid sectarianism. His pontificate saw a dramatic mending of fences between Christians and Jews. He became not only the first pope to step foot in a synagogue but went on to address a rabbi as 'my elder brother.' Growing up in a Poland overrun by Nazi forces, he saw first hand the horrors visited upon the Jewish people....  This early vision of the ravages of racist ideology shaped the pope's profound humanism and enabled him to develop a deep antipathy to all forms of oppression....  If the pope began his pontificate at a tumultuous time by inviting the faithful to eschew fear, he ended it moments before he breathed his last by muttering 'Amen,' the central affirmative word in Christendom. Those two statements provide a frame for the way Pope John Paul II envisioned and executed his mandate....  In a world obsessed with material accumulation, with expedient posturing, the late pope challenged us to turn our eyes to matters pertaining to man's inmost spiritual needs. He urged us to ponder ineffable questions, to have the courage to confront forces that, at first glance, may seem invincible. He also asked us to bear our cross, when we must, with dignity. He not only challenged, he lived his precepts. For most of his papacy, the flow of world events threatened to engender festering despair. Eschewing this compulsion, the pope held up hope for humanity. His inspiration and influence, his legacy, will be lasting."


"A Freedom Fighter"


Damola Awoyokun stated in the respected Lagos-based independent Guardian (4/7):  "He carried the true flame of freedom. In 1998...the Pope asked Abacha to release 60 political detainees. 'Pharaoh' Abacha looked at him and...refused. Two months later, Nigerians were free....  He neither occupied nor invaded Nigeria. Earlier that year, he visited Cuba. When he left, Fidel Castro gave up on his repression of some freedoms: religious freedom. He neither invaded nor occupied Cuba. Ditto for the wave of freedom that swept the whole of Eastern Europe which culminated in the demolition of the Soviet Union. He did it by being a man. He never invaded the place nor called for regime change yet he was a torremoto....  He was a sign of contradiction, a voice of dissent and truth anytime they converge. He could never be branded a liberal or conservative in the true sense of the word because these categories are useless. To him, fidelity to the truth and revelation and the people is absolute....  He infused the practices of the Church with youthful vigor....  He told them to live up to the faith, look up to the Cross as the future of the Church in this corridor of darkness. He assisted them to transform their fear and confusion into courage and conviction. Before he passed on, he said, 'AMEN' which proves that the whole of his life was one long continuous prayer."


"A Legend Goes Home"


Lindsay Barrett asserted in the Lagos-based independent Daily Sun (4/7):  "Quite apart from being a revolutionary development for the Roman Catholic Church, the destruction of boundaries of prejudice and bigotry were generated in large measure by the courage displayed by the Pope as he confronted tyranny and distress throughout the world. He was never silent on the key issues of global inhumanity....  He supported Israel’s right to exist but was highly vocal in rejecting the notion that the Palestinians should continue to be treated as non-persons or denied a homeland by the continued occupation of their ancestral lands....  Pope John Paul II’s selection was certainly one of the greatest factors in the collapse of tyranny in Eastern Europe and Russia...often characterized as the 'fall of communism,' which he never spoke of as an ideological battle but rather depicted as a battle against oppression of the governed by the government. He showed his true mettle again not so long ago when he proved to be one of the most vehement critics of the invasion of Iraq. John Paul II held simple values of honesty, peaceful co-existence, the profound relevance of faith, and the need for common fairness in human relationships across all the boundaries of religion, race, and nationality. He was a man of simple objectives and principles, but in his adherence to the simplest values of human hope he generated some of the most complex consequences of human endeavor. This has already made him a legend not only because of his papal vocation, but also for his Herculean efforts to initiate a new world order based on equity and truth."


"A Legacy For Mankind"


The Lagos-based, independent Guardian editorialized (4/3):  "Through his devotion to duty in the face of personal adversity caused by his health problems; through his travels and communion with the mass of the people in far-off lands, the Pope has left a legacy not only for the Catholic Church but for mankind."


UGANDA:  "John Paul Refused To Be Chained To The Vatican"


Opiyo Oloya wrote in the state-run New Vision (4/6):  "Pope John Paul, in spite of the trappings of power, was capable of speaking the common language that a man on the street understood....  Indeed, the stiffness that surrounded the papacy for 2000 years was thrown away when Pope John Paul became the spiritual leader....  In his 26 years at the helm of the Catholic church, he travelled to 129 countries....  That is one of the biggest legacies of the pope to the world--he felt the need to reach out to everyone.  In 1982, he visited the UK, and reached out to the Church of England by kneeling and praying with then Archbishop Robert Runcie at Canterbury. In 1986, John Paul became the first pontiff to visit a synagogue....  John Paul made the first visit to Greece by a pope in 1291 years....  In Damascus, Pope John Paul became the first pontiff to enter a mosque....  He refused to be chained to the Vatican, or to stay stiff, ceremonious and aloof.  Instead, he got right into the fray with everyone else....  That is why he was regarded like a rock superstar. He made religion rock again, he made it hip to be a Christian, and he made it possible to reach out to those less fortunate without appearing to be paternalistic.  We will miss this pope, but we must count ourselves among the lucky ones to have been alive during his reign."


"A Golden Opportunity"


The state-run New Vision contended (4/4):  "Nearly 65% of Catholics live in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These shifting demographics should not be ignored when choosing the next Pope. Africa has not produced a Pope in 1,500 years....  This is a golden opportunity for Africa."




CANADA:  "John Paul's Greatness, The Church's Challenge"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (4/4):  "When John Paul II died on Saturday, a light went out in the world....  To many, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, those teachings were often harsh and archaic.  This was the Pope who denounced all forms of artificial contraception as 'a serious sin that offends God,' who saw in abortion the seeds of 'a new holocaust,' who called homosexuality 'an intrinsic moral evil.'  This was also the Pope who said an unequivocal no to the marriage of priests, and who said that no woman would ever be ordained.  But this was also the Pope who preached against the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and the Iraq war of 2003, who denounced the arms trade and condemned the death penalty, who deplored the 'idolatry of the market' and questioned the predatory nature of global capitalism, who spoke out again and again for human rights and helped undermine dictators from Chile to Haiti to the Philippines.  Most unforgettably, this was the Polish Pope whose travels to his imprisoned native land helped bring down Soviet-backed communism there and contributed to the collapse of Communist control throughout Europe....  Those who denounced the Pope as an unvarnished reactionary forget that he did more than any other pontiff to make amends for past misdeeds....  Every institution must learn how to change without losing its reason for being.  Successful institutions evolve, with their essence intact.  John Paul was right to restore the Church's moral compass.  He was right to fight for human dignity.  He was right to underline the sanctity of life.  He lit a moral beacon in a changing world.  But his successor must find a way to adapt to that world, or the Church that John Paul strove so hard to raise up will slide into irrelevance."


"God's Holy Will"


The nationalist Ottawa Citizen editorialized (4/3):  "John Paul II's most significant legacy to the world is spiritual....  True freedom, the Pope asserted, does not come from constitutions or legislation. True freedom is available only when we obey divine law because such obedience expresses our truest humanity. There is a universal moral law by which human actions are judged as to their worthiness, and our responsibility is to align our politics--whether in regard to abortion, the environment, marriage or war--according to the divine law. In an age largely devoted to the self-satisfactions of avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure, the idea that we are not our own is difficult to accept. But that, finally, was John Paul's message. And it is a legacy for which he willingly, if lamentably, surrendered even his love of poetry."


"A Loss To Catholics -- And The World"


The conservative National Post editorialized (4/4):  "At a time when there are apologists aplenty for every moral failing, relativists rejecting the very idea of truth and therapists temporizing about moral responsibility, here was a man who said it was possible to know right from wrong and, with God's help, to do it.  That didn't make him popular with the libertine left or the libertarian right, but it likely struck a chord with those who thought the world needed somebody like John Paul.  Even the most implacable opponents of Catholic teaching--including the vociferous ones within his own flock--would think it odd to have a pope in favour of abortion, sexual license, divorce and the other preoccupations of our media culture.  The world needs a voice calling us to be better than we are."


"Pope John Paul's Faith Challenged Our Era"


The liberal Toronto Star remarked (4/3):  "[John Paul II] was the Solidarity Pope, a polyglot man of the people who preached freedom, dignity and hope to millions.  The steel-willed Pope, who called fellow Christians to bedrock faith, fidelity and discipline.  And he would live to become the suffering Pope, an icon of the frail human condition, a life spent in the service of faith....  This powerful, demanding, in-your-face Pilgrim Pope--a media-savvy master of the iconic gesture--traveled the world challenging the self-indulgent, post-modern, secular times in which he lived.  And the world respected him for it....  Christian theologians must now shoulder the subtle, complex task of weighing his impact on the Church's understanding of itself, at the dawn of the third millennium.  No pope has left so vast a legacy of encyclicals, sermons, books, poetry, letters, exhortations and other records.  But ordinary Catholics already know John Paul as a conservative, even divisive, pontiff who tested their Christian mettle at every turn....  While the Church grew under his stewardship, especially in Africa and Asia, that growth was not painless.  His unyielding affirmation of traditional Catholic doctrine on matters of divorce, birth control, extramarital sex, the use of condoms to fight AIDS, and same-sex unions daunted many, and alienated some.  He silenced Catholic scholars who challenged orthodoxy.  And he appointed a deeply conservative College of Cardinals who will now choose his successor....  Yet as John Paul shut some doors, he opened others.  He apologized for the Crusades, the wrongs done by Christians to Jews over the centuries, and the Inquisition, healing centuries-old wounds.  He tirelessly promoted Christian reconciliation.  He championed genuine tolerance for all beliefs, for all God's children.  He felt at home praying in a Protestant church, a synagogue, a mosque.  He invited the wider world not to blindly adopt his Christian faith, but to reflect on that faith and on the values it inspires."


ARGENTINA:  "John Paul II's Life And Legacy"


An editorial in leading Clarin read (4/3):  "John Paul II was a transcendent figure not only for the Catholic world but for the entire world....  John Paul II clearly understood the importance of one of the main features of the current civilization: the power of communication....  He was also the 'traveling Pope,' who reached almost every corner in the planet in which he fostered Catholicism....  Just like every man of strong convictions and decided action, he raised support and controversy....  According to an important sector of the Catholic Church and public opinion in general, John Paul II played a decisive role in recovering the fundamental values of the Catholic religion, which had deteriorated due to cultural secularization....  According to another opinion sector, even a Catholic one, the Polish Pope held a conservative theological stance, which was articulated with the resurge of political conservatism in several countries, which implied a retreat regarding Vatican Council II's orientation....  The future pope will receive an agenda including issues that have been delayed during John Paul II's papacy and whose discussion unleash expectations in an important part of the Catholic Church, such as the role of women within church, priests' celibate and Rome's increasing concentration of ecclesiastic power."


"A Powerful Leader For Peace"


Moderate, daily-of-record La Nacion editorialized (4/3):  "The death of John Paul II touches not just the Catholic Church, it affects humanity as a whole.  This is because, with him, a powerful leader in the cause of peace and the spiritual growth of nations has been lost.  His call to defend life in every domain and to fight tirelessly for the dignity of human beings went beyond all borders and echoed into the furthest corners of the planet."


BRAZIL:  "Italian Press Underscores Hummes’ Chances"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo held (4/5):  “Sao Paulo Archbishop Claudio Hummes has been pointed out by the Italian press as one of the strongest candidates to replace John Paul II as the chief of the Catholic Church. Both La Repubblica and La Stampa indicated that the Brazilian cardinal has a real possibility of being chosen as the new pope.  For La Stampa, Hummes is one of the highest names in the Latin American episcopate. The daily places him along with nine cardinals with chances of leaving the conclave as he new pope, and reminds the readers how the Brazilian has worked against social injustices.  La Repubblica also stresses Hummes concern with the fight against poverty and with the role of the Church....  The paper points to Hummes as ‘the most qualified Latin American cardinal’ to occupy the post....  According to La Repubblica, Hummes, who is a man of ‘progressive’ positions, would not fear discussing one of the issues conservative cardinals consider most delicate: the relation between the church and science, particularly biology.”


"Anxious, Cardinal Hummes Avoids Controversy" 


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo observed (4/5):  "Pointed out as one of the candidates to succeed Pope John Paul II, Sao Paulo Archbishop Claudio Hummes yesterday avoided controversial topics, but recognized that his anxiety in regards to the conclave is big....  According to Hummes, ‘each pope has a mission within a historical moment. Humanity advances and the world demands a differentiation.  Simple continuity is not possible.’ For him, this is a world in ‘ebulition,’ and it is not possible to give old answers to new questions, Hummes said referring to biotechnological advances.  Among the attributes the new pope must have, Hummes said, is the capability of maintaing a ‘constant dialogue with science,’ of course taking into consideration that ethic must rule scientific progress....  According to Hummes, this new world is one of democatic pluralism, a product of globalization.  More than co-existing with other religions, it is important to fight the loss of followers, especially in Latin America....  The fight against social exclusion should also be one of the concerns of the Church including more attention to agrarian reform....  Cardinal Hummes, who gave interviews in French and German, but not in English, deemed John Paul II’s effort to speak the language of the nations he visited a caring gesture.” 


“Moderation Is Hummes’ Trump Card”


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo reports (4/5): “According to Theology Professor Euclides Martins Balancin, Claudio Hummes’ advantage is in the fact that he is a moderate cardinal, who managed to balance a political situation in defense of democracy and labor union movements during the Brazilian military regime, with a discreet and less controversial discourse in regards to Catholic dogmas - something that would please the Holy See. His Latin American origin may be another favorable point in the choice, since two thirds of the Catholic population lives today in developing nations, and a Pope coming from such regions would be more sensitive to social questions, an agenda that will probably get more attention from the Vatican. According to Professor Balancin, ‘Hummes is only one of the possible names.  There is much speculation because the composition and the operation of the conclave is very complex. Decisions may surprise.’”


"A Uniter"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo held (4/3):  "Pope John Paul II, regarded as a conservative due to his firm stand on controversial issues in the Catholic Church, such as abortion, clerical celibacy and ordaining women, has nonetheless succeeded in uniting traditionalists and liberals despite doubts whether he has served the one billion Catholics all over the world in the best possible way."


"A Moral Authority"


Right-of-center O Globo commented (4/3):  "The Pope kept, almost until the end, the gift for mobilizing the crowds, especially the young.  Through his ecumenical efforts he was capable of gathering, in Assisi, representatives of the world's main faiths.  Today, with points of reference dwindling fast, he was still an indisputable moral authority."


BOLIVIA:  "A Man Of God"


President  Carlos Mesa declared in La Paz-based left-leaning La Prensa (4/5):  "[The Pope] lived because he believed.  He died believing.  He changed the world and guided Catholicism during one of its hardest moments....  Juan Pablo II found a bipolar world and without doubting it for a second, he confronted the Communist nations, including his own Poland, and contributed from the most Catholic land of Eastern Europe to the progressive dismantling of a system which literally collapsed in Berlin in 1989.  Tough and categorical in his ideas, Karol Woytila preached a vigorous message against the selfish and materialistic vision that inundated the world along with a fierce capitalism; at the same time he stopped the matrimony of Christianity with Marxism in the message of the painful Latin American experience in which the Liberation Theology was born....  Juan Pablo II was a man of this time, a gigantic communicator, a traveler as no other in history, someone with the courage to bet everything on the things he believed essential for the Church at the end of the millennium....  A Pope capable of understanding his time and challenging power with his power, capable of speaking with the voice of technology, capable of understanding the ties that bind science and faith....  He died with the integrity of a mystic, with his faith anchored in the rock Christ left in Rome for the Catholic world, a living, imperishable history when for more than a quarter of a century everything seemed to be changing, without ever losing its roots in the gospel.”


COLOMBIA:  "Conservative Views"


Leading El Tiempo observed (4/3):  "Regrettably, the open-mindedness and forward-thinking John Paul II showed in other areas did not filter through into his position regarding family morals, which was always conservative in the extreme and which widened the gap between what is preached by the hierarchy and what ordinary Catholics practice."


NICARAGUA:  "Paradox"


Former diplomat Gustavo-Adolfo Vargas wrote in leftist national daily El Nuevo Diario (4/2):  "It is truly a paradox in history that this great anti-communism warrior, at the end of his life, was using the same language as those he had fought against.  He finally realized that savage capitalism promoted the fight of man against man, and that it only used religion to subjugate the underdeveloped countries and that he was used by Reagan and the CIA [towards these goals]."


PANAMA:  "More Violent And Selfish"


Bush Administration critic Maribel Cuervo de Paredes cautioned in leading broadsheet La Prensa (4/5):  "My heart was grieving and fearful at seeing how, even with God’s representative [John Paul II], our world is more violent and selfish.  There are plenty of examples.  Just by looking at the present crisis, we can say that even with his presence, strength, huge love and his categorical rejection of the bloody terrorist war designed and created by George W. Bush, that powerful and selfish president was able to influence the world with his sick hatred, ignoring Pope John Paul II’s requests and prayers, and submitting the whole world to his despicable war.  I am sure that the sacred heart of John Paul II suffered intensively because he knew that humanity has not begun to suffer the consequences of this inferno of haughtiness and wickedness that Bush condemns us to.”



Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home