04/04/2005, 00.00
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India mourns the death of the Pope who beatified Mother Teresa and honoured Gandhi

by Nirmala Carvalho

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – In remembering Pope John Paul II, Mgr Vincent Conçessao, Archbishop of Delhi, said that "in the twilight of his existence he told the world that every life is worth living even if it is one of suffering".

"The Holy Father," Archbishop Conçessao said, "was an extraordinary person thanks to his love for God and man" and the whole Indian Church is weeping for his death.

"His greatest contribution to the Church", said Mgr Percival Fernandez, secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CIBC), "is having taken us back to the Gospel which says that only by loving one another can one really love God".

For Mgr Fernandez, the Pope will always be remembered "for his concern for human life and ordinary people".

For Catholics, he was an example of inter-faith dialogue because "he personally committed himself to reach out to people of other faiths".

"The Pope," the CIBC secretary noted, "understood the struggle of the Indian Church vis-à-vis fundamentalist violence by Hindu extremists. [But], in accordance with the Gospels, he told us to love and pray for those who persecute us".

Fr Babu Joseph, the CBCI spokesman, recalled the Pope's trips to India in 1986 and 1999. "He travelled far and wide in the country and emphasised the different and traditional values of our culture," Father Joseph said.

In the 1986 visit he made "all Indians love him, even non Christians, when he honoured the Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the nation, highlighting his non violent struggle for India's freedom.

"A profound sense of sadness has fallen over the entire nation," Father Joseph said. "The Holy Father's great love and interest for our country endeared him to one and all. Everyone feels like having lost a close friend".

India's President Abdul Kalam remembered the Pope as someone who "tirelessly worked for peace on this planet and for the establishment of an international order based on equality and justice".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that "Pope John Paul II endeared himself especially to the people of India by initiating the process of granting sainthood to Mother Teresa".



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