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Leaders and Ordinary People Mourn Pontiff's Death


Religious and secular leaders as well as ordinary citizens from around the world are mourning the death of Pope John Paul II.

President Bush, with his wife Laura at his side, paid tribute to Pope John Paul. "The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home," he said. Mr. Bush said the world "will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of the great moral leaders."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Pope John Paul "stood for social justice and on the side of the oppressed". Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called him "a distinguished religious figure who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom and equality".

French President Jacques Chirac described him as an "exceptional sovereign pontiff, whose charisma, conviction and compassion carried the evangelical message with unprecedented resonance on the international stage." Philippine president Gloria Arroyo praised the pontiff's "serene courage and indomitable will."

Candles surround an image of Pope John Paul II during a vigil in St. Peter's square at the Vatican
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington DC, said Catholics around the world should thank God for John Paul's papacy. "To thank God for his wisdom, his courage, for his insight and thank God for his love, because people talk about John Paul as a strong leader and that he was, and as a man who gave clear direction - and he certainly did - but he was also a man who really loved people," he said.

Cardinal McCarrick will leave for Rome Tuesday where he will take part in the pontiff's funeral and participate in the conclave that will elect a new pope.

Ordinary people from around the world are also mourning the pontiff's loss. Iyad Abu Shulbak is a Palestinian Muslim who spoke with our reporter in Jerusalem. "He was able to be with other people, other religions, with Jewish, with Muslims. He talked [with], tried to make peace with everybody," he said.

Pope John Paul was the most traveled pontiff in history, visiting more than 100 countries during his 26-year papacy.

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