The ad below appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times on October 15, 2003.
You are admired all over the world. Here’s a sampling of what’s been said about you:
President George W. Bush: “Since October 1978, you have shown the world not only the splendor of truth but also the power to overcome evil and to redirect the course of history.”
The Dalai Lama, Exiled Tibetan Buddhist Leader: “He really has a will and a determination to help humanity through spirituality.”
Christian Evangelist Rev. Billy Graham: “He’s been the strong conscience of the whole Christian world.”
Author Camille Paglia on the pope’s writings: “After the nihilism of poststructuralism and game-playing postmodernism, it is a relief to find the history of ideas treated in so respectful, cohesive and luminous a way.”
Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “The pope did everything possible to help humanity out of its era of hate.”
Mexican President Vincente Fox: “The world in which we live today wouldn’t be the same without the spiritual and moral leadership…of John Paul II.”
AIDS patient Christian Haren: “I am absolutely blown away that he would take this time and the risk involved within the universal church, to make a statement like that—that means so much hope and compassion to everyone with AIDS, not just Catholics.”
Former Israeli President Ezer Weizman: “You, Your Holiness, through your character, your conduct, and your personal influence, unite the hearts of humanity.”
Former South African President Nelson Mandela: “He has now come and given us the opportunity to thank him for his stand against apartheid as well as his commitment to the poorest of the poor and for the role of the Catholic Church.”
Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino said she came to the pope “as the leader of a people of faith, who won back their freedom through the power of that faith.”
Cherie Blair, wife of the British Prime Minister, hails the pope for being “ahead of his time” in his views on the role of women in the Church. “In particular, the Pope speaks of the ‘feminine genius’ and that the Christian Gospel is in ‘consistent protest with whatever offends the dignity of women.'”
Mehmet Ali Agca, attempted assassin of the pope, says that the Holy Father’s visit to him in prison forgiving him for his actions was “the most beautiful, the most significant moment” of his life.
To be sure, you have your detractors.
But not to worry!The voice of dissidence and despair is confined to the angry and aging.
You have counseled us time and again: “Be not afraid!”
Thank you for living your signature statement.