Statement On The Death of Pope John Paul II

April 4, 2005

JOHNSTOWN, PA - The Bishop, clergy and faithful of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (Ecumenical Patriarchate) join Bishop Joseph Adamec, the priests and religious, and the faithful of the Diocese of Altoona/Johnstown and members of the Roman Catholic Church world-wide in mourning the passing of + Pope John Paul II. We pray for the soul of this great Bishop.

We were touched by the display of faith demonstrated by tens of thousands in Rome and millions around the world, praying for this good Christian leader of our Catholic brethren during his passage from this life to Paradise. During those days, a cynical world was given a prospect of faith and hope, and a Christian testimony of the meaning of life and death. Pope John Paul II was surrounded by a unified family, a peaceful, pious and prayerful "choir" of millions who prayed for him in the moment of the Lord taking his soul to Paradise.

Metropolitan Nicholas, bishop of the Diocese, had the great privilege to be in the presence of Pope John Paul twice in Rome over the years, which has provided unforgettable memories.

During his Papacy, the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church has significantly improved. The most recent event was this past November when a delegation of Orthodox Christians led by His All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople took part in a moving ceremony at the Vatican at the invitation of Pope John Paul. During this historic ceremony, the relics of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory the Theologian, two prominent Fathers of the undivided Church, were returned to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Orthodox Church will remember this, as well as other expressions of a desire by Pope John Paul for reconciliation and unity.