April 03, 2005

Pontiff left his mark on area leaders and residents

Toledo Blade


Although Pope John Paul II never visited Toledo - the closest he came was a 1987 trip to Detroit - the longtime leader of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics had a major impact on this region and its Catholic population.

The 307,000 Catholics in the Toledo diocese's 19 counties looked to the Pontiff for spiritual guidance for 26 years, and scores of local residents made journeys to see the Pope in person, many of them during his four-day visit to Toronto in 2002 for World Youth Day.

"Locally we certainly have felt his touch," said the Rev. Michael Billian, episcopal vicar of the diocese. ...

Claudia Vercellotti, co-coordinator of the local SNAP chapter, a support group for victims of clerical sexual abuse, said the Pope's legacy includes his fights against communism and poverty, but his greatest contribution is his mandate to protect children.

"The Pope said unequivocally that there is no place in ministry for anyone who harms the young," Ms. Vercellotti said. "But that has not been implemented by bishops across the country. The greatest legacy the Pope could leave is that above all he protected children, and now it's up to those who follow him."

Posted by kshaw at April 3, 2005 09:41 AM