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Territory Mourns Death of Pope John Paul II


April 4, 2005 – The death and legacy of Pope John Paul II was recalled in Roman Catholic Churches across the Virgin Islands at Sunday masses. Purple and black bunting graced the three entrance doors to Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
In Sunday services across the diocese, worshipers prayed in remembrance of the man who reigned as leader of the Catholic Church for more than 26 years, longer than all but two of his predecessors.
At Our Lady of Perpetual Parish on Sunday, Rev. Troy deChabert-Schuster referred to the pope's death as bitter sweet, "because we have lost a wonderful pope, a great living Saint … we've lost a man who has changed the face of the earth in so many ways: politically, socially, morally and religiously." Schuster said for his work on earth, the pope will become immortalized as "Pope John Paul II, the Great." Schuster said the sweet experience is that the 84-year-old pontiff no longer suffers the effects of crippling diseases. "The great suffering he went through with Parkinson's disease and most recently in his final days is over … he is now in the hands of our Lord." Describing the pope's final days at his residence in the Vatican, surrounded by bishops and cardinals, Schuster said, Pope John Paul II "taught us how to live and die with dignity."
Pope John Paul II was credited with helping to bring down communism in Europe and left a legacy of conservatism. He was opposed to divorce, birth control and abortion, the ordination of women and of the lifting of the celibacy requirement for priests.
On Saturday night, Gov. Charles Turnbull conveyed condolences to the Roman Catholic community. " Pope John Paul was a man of deep faith and humility, he was a spiritual leader who sought to unite all humanity regardless of their religious belief and practices." The pope served as a beacon of hope and peace and was a central figure of the 20th century.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to all Roman Catholics and the people of faith everywhere," Turnbull said. Consistent with a U.S. presidential directive, Turnbull ordered flags in the territory be flown at half staff
in honor of the pope. The flags will remain at half-mast until sunset of the day of interment.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards said Pope John Paul II was a man revered by peoples of all denominations for his love of humanity and his gentle, yet firm leadership of over one billion Roman Catholics across the globe. "His Holiness was a man of great humility, who during his 26-years of papacy, rendered hope and healing at every juncture of his travels."
Richards said we sadly mourn a man who reached out to touch those within the Catholic church as well as those outside the church. "Even in his suffering and failing health, he taught us to strive to uphold principles guided by the understanding of intrinsic rights and wrongs."
Delegate Donna Christensen said everyone should thank God for the life and service of John Paul II. "He was our conscience in a world of misplaced values, and our moral and spiritual compass in a time when we have strayed from the places where we met our God."
Pope John Paul, Christensen said, will be remembered for the immensity of his love for all humanity, "his will be very big shoes to fill."
Christiansen asked everyone to pray for the leadership of the Catholic church as it now undertakes the important task of choosing the next leader of the Church."
Television images on Sunday night gave the public its first view of the pope since his death, lying in the Vatican's frescoed Apostolic Palace, dressed in crimson vestments and white bishop's miter, his head resting on a stack of gold pillows.


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