“Pope John Paul II was unquestionably the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years. His extraordinary gifts, his strong Catholic faith, and his experience of human tyranny and suffering in his native Poland all shaped him, and yet he was respected by men and women from every conceivable background across the world. He was truly one of those rare individuals whose legacy will endure long after he has gone.
“It was my privilege to meet with him at the Vatican on various occasions, and I will always remember his personal warmth to me and his deep interest in our ministry. In his own way, he saw himself as an evangelist, traveling far more than any other Pope to rally the faithful and call non-believers to commitment. He was convinced that the complex problems of our world are ultimately moral and spiritual in nature, and only Christ can set us free from the shackles of sin and greed and violence. His courage and perseverance in the face of advancing age and illness were an inspiration to millions — including me.
“I have been invited to attend the funeral service for Pope John Paul II, but I will not be able to go for health reasons. I have asked a member of my family and one of my long-time associates to represent me at that service.
“May his death remind each of us that some day we too must die and enter into God’s presence — and may we each commit ourselves afresh to Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation.”