Remembering the Holy Father Pope John Paul II: Letter of the Minister General to the Brothers
Prayer of the Pope at St Francis at La Verna
Message of Pope John Paul II to the OFM Minister General
Second Letter of the
Conference of the Franciscan Family
on the occasion of the Jubilee 2000,
in the year of the Holy Spirit
Franciscans International joins the world community in remembering Pope John Paul II, who passed away on Saturday, 2 April 2005, in Vatican City.
The Pope was a highly respected and admired figure to citizens across the globe. Since his appointment to the pontificate in October 1978, Pope John Paul II served as a tireless advocate for justice and peace issues, and he connected with millions of people worldwide.
For Franciscan brothers and sisters, the Pope's messages frequently imitated the spirits of St. Francis and St. Clare; he encouraged communities to grow in their concern for the poor and care of the environment, and to uphold human rights in the spirit of peace.
In a homily given in La Verna – the place where St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata – Pope John Paul II told the assembled community: "Francis is the saint who is, in a certain sense, universal; through him Christ wanted to proclaim the Gospel not only to his era but to others as well, to our own age, to cultures and civilisations very different from one another."
The Pope also identified with St. Francis' desire to embrace foreign countries, and to spread models of love and acceptance to religions beyond Roman Catholicism. Throughout his term, John Paul II completed 104 pastoral visits outside of Italy and 146 within Italy, and became the most well-travelled Pope in Church history.
Pope John Paul II also respected St. Francis' position as the patron saint of Italy and, within the first month of his inauguration, the Pope visited Assisi to venerate St. Francis' tomb.
"Francis bore witness to…boundless love and continues to do so even in our days," the Pope observed.
In a similar spirit, the Pope continually demonstrated the Church's commitment to diminishing violence, and was a captivating, compassionate leader. In turn, people worldwide admired his harmonious messages and he left a legacy that, although occasionally viewed as controversial, brought respect from leaders worldwide.
“[Pope John Paul II] was an irreplaceable voice speaking out for peace, for religious freedom, and for mutual respect and understanding between people of different faiths,” observed Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
As millions around the globe offer their reflections and experiences about John Paul II following his death, they may also take comfort in knowing that the Pope had urged them to continue embracing – and not fearing – the unfamiliar:
"Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence," he once encouraged.