Page 1305 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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youth of the world, he said, “I came to you, now it is you who have come to me. I thank you.” This shows the humility of such a great man.

We are here today to celebrate the life of this man, loved by millions of people across the world, a man who could speak eight languages fluently. It is interesting to note that his personal mission was, as the leader and chief teacher of Catholics worldwide, to implement the lessons of the second Vatican council, emphasising the universal call to holiness and the church’s role in a modern world. I think the church as a whole, per se, has a long way to go towards fulfilling the pope’s dream, but we are one step nearer and this great man has certainly led the way for that.

He asked that people not cry or shed tears at his death. Personally it has been a difficult time for me, just a few days after my own father-in-law passing away—and burying him. I can relate to the senior members of the Catholic Church, who encourage us with the fact that the pope died at Easter-time. As many will know, Easter is not just a time of Easter bunnies and eggs; it is a time of life and new beginnings. The pope demonstrated that he was a man of new beginnings; he was a man of change. Some of us may not have agreed with some of those changes but, nonetheless, he left his mark in history.

Towards the end of his papacy, there were those, both within and without the church, who thought that the pope should resign or retire—even term limits for popes were suggested. However, as John Paul had indicated his acceptance of God’s will that he should be pope, he was determined to stay in office until his death. That shows the mark of the man. He knew the job he had to do right to the very end, even from his final appearance on the balcony—and we must not forget that he was loved by millions of people.

He was mourned by a crowd of over 70,000 within Vatican City; by over one billion Catholics world wide; and by many non-Catholics. The pope always said that his death should be celebrated as the passage to the next stage of his eternal life. He was obviously clearly a man who did not fear death but was certainly ready for the next stage of his eternal life. The crowd at the Vatican clapped when the announcement of his death was made, following a traditional Italian custom signifying respect. I certainly applaud the man and support this motion of condolence today.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo): Mr Speaker, I rise today to pay my respects to one of the most important and well-respected figures of the past century, Pope John Paul II. When I woke on Sunday morning to the news that the whole world had been anticipating, I must confess to having mixed feelings. While shedding a tear over the passing of such a great man, I did feel a sense of relief that his suffering had finally come to an end. Of course, Catholics, like all Christians, believe in the afterlife. I would suggest that the pope is now in heaven, a place where the suffering of this world is left behind.

I have happy personal memories of seeing the Pope in 1986 in Canberra, when I was quite young, and again in Rome in 2001. There are many things that can be said about the life of Karol Wojtyla, and many of these have been said today. His pivotal role in the end of communism in Europe, his ability to reach out to Catholics all over the world, his efforts to bring reconciliation between Christians and other faiths, his preaching of peace at times of war and his advocacy of a cultured life—these are just some of the accurate reflections which could be made of this man’s life.

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