04/03/2005, 00.00
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Dalai Lama mourns John Paul II, "a true spiritual practitioner"

Dharamsala (AsiaNews/Phyul) - The Dalai Lama offered special prayers for His Holiness Pope John Paul II yesterday during the last leg of his three-week teachings. After the passing away of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama issued this condolence message.

"His Holiness Pope John Paul II was a man I held in high regard. He was a determined and deeply spiritual minded person for whom I had great respect and admiration. His experience in Poland, then a communist country, and my own difficulties with communists, gave us an immediate common ground. The first time we met, he struck me as very practical and open, with a broad appreciation of global problems. I have no doubt that he was a great spiritual leader.

Right from the beginning a close personal friendship developed between us, which was confirmed on several subsequent occasions. I found we were in complete agreement about several issues. The Pope felt as I do that as human beings we not only require material development but we also need spirituality. Certainly, improved material facilities provide us with physical comfort but we also have unique intelligence or mind that mere material provision cannot fully satisfy. Both in public and to me in person the Pope always stressed the importance of spiritual values and we shared a concern that the younger generation is losing interest in them.

We were also in complete agreement about the need to promote harmony amongst different religious traditions. I was privileged to participate in the inter-faith meeting held at Assisi, a very important and significant event, at his invitation. It demonstrated to the world community that our different traditions really could pray together and send a message of peace from one platform.

I also have deep appreciation for the Pope's mission to bring peace to the world. In spite of increasing age and declining physical health, his relentless efforts to visit different parts of the world and meet the people who lived there to promote harmony and spiritual values, exemplified not only his deep concern but also the courage he brought to fulfilling it.

"The Pope was very sympathetic to the Tibetan problem. Of course, as the head of an institution trying to establish good relations with China and seriously concerned about the status of millions of Christians in China he could not express this publicly or officially. But right from the start of our friendship he revealed to me privately that he had a clear understanding of the Tibetan problem because of his own experience of communism in Poland. This gave me great personal encouragement.

Finally, I want to express my deep admiration for the Pope's ability to forgive even his would-be-assassin. This was a clear indication that he was a true spiritual practitioner."

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The Pope's legacy in the two Koreas
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