April 02, 2005

John Paul II, Spiritual and Political Force, Dies


April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Pope John Paul II, who traveled the globe for more than two decades spreading his message of peace, tolerance and reconciliation while stamping his conservative views on the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, died at the Vatican. He was 84.

The spiritual leader of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics, who was in the 26th year of his papacy, died at 9:37 p.m. Rome time, the Vatican said. News of his death was announced from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica by Argentine Archbishop Leonardo Sandri to the 70,000 who had gathered in the church's square.

Polish-born Karol Jozef Wojtyla was the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI more than 450 years ago and the third- longest-serving pope, surpassed only by Pius IX in the 19th century and St. Peter. ...

His efforts to unify Catholics and promote an image of Christian benevolence were tainted by cases of sexual abuse of children by U.S. priests and charges of a cover-up by senior church officials.

Leadership Style

Sexual assault by priests is a crime and ``an appalling sin'' that has caused the Roman Catholic Church to be ``viewed with distrust,'' he told a group of leading U.S. cardinals whom he summoned to Rome in April 2002. The pope called for a policy of ``zero tolerance'' and supported the cardinals' decision to expel any priest found guilty of serial sexual abuse.

Posted by kshaw at April 2, 2005 05:24 PM