msnbc.com news services
updated 4/3/2005 2:48:22 PM ET 2005-04-03T18:48:22

Pope John Paul II was an enormously influential figure — as a religious leader, a moral voice, a politician and a man. The following is a sampling of reflections on the pontiff from leaders and ordinary people around the world.

  • “His Holiness Pope John Paul II was a determined and deeply spiritual minded person for whom I had great respect and admiration. His experience in Poland, then a communist country, and my own difficulties with communists, gave us an immediate common ground” — Dalai Lama
  • “ A loss for the world, the Catholic Church, peace and freedom-lovers” --  Grand Mufti Ikrima Sabri, the leading Muslim cleric in Jerusalem
  • “A great showman, a great communicator of ideas even if you didn’t agree with all of them, a great friend to the world’s poor which is how I got to meet him.” — U2 lead singer Bono
  • “We all feel like orphans this evening.” — Vatican Undersecretary of State Archbishop Leonardo Sandri.
  • “It is the emotion of losing a grandfather, like losing a living stone to which we have clung for so long.” — Monsignor Patrick Jacquin, the rector of Notre Dame.

  • “He is in glory while we continue in the church, following the paths of Christ.” — Cardinal Dario Castrillon of Colombia, considered a possible successor to the pope.

  • "He was a holy champion of the Filipino family and of profound Christian values that make every one of us contemplate, everyday, what is just, moral and sacred in life," — Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

  • “It is with extreme sadness that we hear of the passing of the leader of the world’s Catholics, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who commanded the three paths of religious learning, philosophical thought and poetical and artistic creativity.” — President of Iran Mohammad Khatami.
  • "He came to listen to us and tell us he loved us. ... He taught us humility in life and now he has taught us humility in death. May he rest in peace." — Sami Basha, a Palestinian Catholic living in Rome.
  • “The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd. The world has lost a champion of human freedom and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home. — U.S. President George W. Bush.

  • “The greatest and maybe the only authority is gone. An era is over forever but his wisdom will also last forever.” -- Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland's first non-Communist prime minister.
  • “As a godless atheist I never cared much for the church or the papacy. I disliked the fact that the papacy bore down so heavily on Poland. Now I fear that a cult will emerge after his death.” — One-time spokesman of Poland's past Communist rulers Jerzy Urban.
  • “John Paul II was one of the greatest men of the last century. Perhaps the greatest.” — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
  • “I think we shall keep discovering how much the Holy Father worked for us and struggled for us. He spoke to us through his illness and through his suffering served to the very end ... (Without him) there would be no end of communism or at least much later and the end would have been bloody.” — Former Polish President and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.
  • “Throughout a hard and often difficult life, he stood for social justice and on the side of the oppressed, whether as a young man facing the Nazi occupation in Poland or later in challenging the Communist regime. He never wavered, never flinched, in the struggle for what he thought was good and right.” — British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  • “Historians will judge the pope harshly. His opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV has condemned millions of people to die an agonizing, needless death. Millions of children in developing countries are orphaned, having lost their parents to AIDS because of the pope’s anti-condom dogma.” — British gay and human rights activist Peter Tatchell.
  • “He influenced the peaceful integration of Europe during his pontificate in many ways. Time and again he acted with wisdom and respect for cultures and people’s traditions to develop solutions to humanity’s problems. — German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
  • “In a certain sense he was 'American.’ He enjoyed people. He had a great sense of humor. He was humble, all the things that America likes in their leaders, and I think we saw that in him, therefore we became very close to him. — Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington.
  • “Unforgettable ... were his visits to Quebec, as well as his participation in the World Youth Day in Toronto in July of 2002, which inspired hundreds of thousands of young people with the strength and clarity of his moral vision.” — Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin.
  • “I recall very fondly my meetings with him, particularly sitting with him in his private quarters discussing the question of war and peace when we were thinking about what to do in Kosovo."  “He ... (was) extremely concerned about the world we lived in, and like me, he also felt that in war, all are losers.” — U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
  • He was “a great religious figure who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom, justice and equality for all races and religions, as well as our people’s right to independence.” — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
  • “Pope John Paul II not only visited Nigeria twice but stood by the country in its fight against dictatorship and injustice.” -- Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
  • “For us Catholics, John Paul II will be remembered as a traveling pope ... and we should also remember he preached world peace. When the United States invaded Iraq, for example, John Paul II said it was an illegal and immoral act.” — President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez.

  • “In speaking powerfully and eloquently for mercy and reconciliation to people divided by old hatreds and persecuted by abuse of power, the Holy Father was a beacon of light not just for Catholics, but for all people.” — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

  • “I have work waiting for me in Belgium, but I think I’ll be going to Rome. I cannot explain it. I’ve never met him, but he is someone who simply radiates a force. There has never been such a Pole as him and there will never be.”  — Stanislaw Witek, 56, an electrician in the pope's hometown of Wadowice, Poland.
  • “By combating the falsehoods of communism and proclaiming the true dignity of the individual, his was the moral force behind victory in the Cold War.” — Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

  • “Pope John Paul II was unquestionably the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years.” — American Evangelist Billy Graham.

  • “He was a saint. He will stay in everyone’s hearts. He was always a fighter, up until the hour of his death. He is at peace. ”  —Fernando Teixeira of Lisbon, Portugal.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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