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As the world mourns the loss of Pope John Paul II, Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council says he will be remembered as a “Pilgrim of Peace” and a “Champion of Justice.”

Bishop Saunders said, “This is a time of deep sadness for the people of the Church and for all who have drawn inspiration and encouragement from Pope John Paul’s tireless work for peace during a pontificate spanning a long and often tumultuous period in world history.

“During his pontificate, he issued hundreds of pronouncements including fourteen Encyclical Letters on pressing global issues concerning human life and dignity, faith, social concerns and the needs of the poor, and peace in lands afflicted with war, poverty and cultural tensions. As the most travelled pontiff, he brought a message of hope to the peoples of over 120 countries he visited.

“Only last month, the Holy Father issued a message to commemorate the 40th anniversary year of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes (The Church in the Modern World) – a document he helped draft during the Second Vatican Council. Reflecting on the document’s key message he wrote,

‘The sad persistence of armed conflicts and recurrent manifestations of violence in so many parts of the world are proof, in the negative, of the inseparable relation between justice and peace… In this connection, I would like to reaffirm once again that peace is the work of justice: it derives in fact from the order on which the Divine Founder himself wished human society to be built.’

“With all members of the Church, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council joins in prayer and remembrance of a man who gave so much for the cause of justice and peace in our world. We remember in particular the Holy Father’s committed work for this cause at times of international crisis and in the face of overwhelming human need”, Bishop Saunders concluded.