Page 1298 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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Going back in history, one of the things that really impressed me about the pope was that, in 1992, he apologised to Galileo. Back in the 1600s the world was not as advanced—they did not then know as much about science as we know now. Great minds like Galileo were often seen as antichrists and antichurch, because of basic scientific theory. He had the courage to go back and apologise to Galileo and rehabilitate him. In some significant speeches he, for instance, apologised to the Jewish people for the failure of Christianity during World War II. That took great courage.

With all the trappings of office, this was a man who never lost the human touch. This was a man who played rugby for Poland as a religious. This was a man who skied regularly, even when he was pope. This was a man who had no end of time for the ordinary people. As soon as he could get rid of the formal parts of his trips—the official welcomes and the greetings—there he was in the crowd, making time for the crowd, talking to people, blessing them, encouraging them in their faith. This was a man for whom no place was too awkward to go. At the same time, he had time to write. As the Chief Minister has pointed out, he continued to learn throughout his life, picking up other languages.

On a personal note to close, I was in Brisbane at the weekend and was speaking to my stepson Peter, who was just 10 when the pope came to Canberra in 1986. Even Peter, who is not particularly religious, commented to me, “Yes, I remember. We went to the racecourse and we all had ‘popescopes’.” They were the little periscopes people could buy so they could see over the crowd if they were a bit short. Even for somebody like Peter, at the age of 10, there was obviously some sort of lasting impression that this was a great man.

I remember that virtually half the suburb where we lived came out. We all had kids at that time. I carried the two capsules with my twins. Family and friends were all lined up—the young families of the valley had gone to see the pope. That will always be an important memory I have with my kids over the years.

On behalf of the Liberal Party of the ACT, we join with this condolence motion on the death of His Holiness Pope Paul II. We look forward to celebrating his life and making sure that he is not forgotten and we say thank you for all he did to make this world a better place.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo): I would like to endorse the motion of condolence and to pass on my respect and empathy to all those who have lost a religious leader. We want to talk about the pope today more as a world leader on the political scale who played a part not only in the church but also in world politics through the Holy See seat of the United Nations and through the impact of his pronouncements.

Karol Jozef Wojtyla had a fortunate life in that he was, I believe, someone who was able to achieve his ambition, which some have said early on was to be a leader of the Catholic Church. He was able to study; he focused on literature and philosophy; he participated in theatre; he hiked; he cycled; he canoed and he kayaked.

However, there was a darker side to his life, as we all know. His mother died when he was nine; his brother died when he was 12 and his father died when he was in fairly early

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