“We need bridges, not walls.” – Pope John Paul II
So much has been said by the media and millions of his admirers across the world about the great man’s death, and I might not have anything new to say, but I would like to share my mourning and my sincere respect for the man who truly transcended his role as a religious leader in his efforts to bring love, hope, peace and unity to the world through his extensive international and interfaith outreach.
I recall a group of visitors from northern Japan who met with the pope at the Vatican last year and presented him with a translation of the Gospels in the dialect of the Kesen region. It was a heartening instance not only for the scholars who worked for years to compile a Kesen dictionary and to translate the Gospels, but also for all those who believe in cultural diversity and the importance of ethnic and linguistic identity. And I think it was the open-mindedness and respect for people that the pope showed at the Kesen delegates’ visit and numerous other instances during his lifetime that inspired and inspirited people of different creeds.
I join millions of mourners all over the world in praying for his soul, and in wishing that the world leaders have learned from and hopefully inherited the pope’s integrity, courage, and sense of humor.