04.04.2005 General News

Govt delegation to attend burial of Pontiff

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Accra, April 4, GNA - A Government delegation would attend the burial of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican on Friday.

A delegation would also attend the Requiem Mass to be held in his memory at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Accra on Thursday, President John Agyekum Kufuor announced when the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop George Kocherry led a delegation from the Catholic Church to officially inform the Government about the death of the Pontiff at the Castle, Osu on Monday.

President Kufuor said, "I am much affected by the passing of the Pontiff. I hope the Cardinals will be inspired in the election of a new Pontiff to replace him.

"The Pontiff was a very powerful man and very humane. The Government will be represented at the Vatican to pay our last respects to him and the Requiem Mass in his memory in Accra."

President Kufuor said Catholics were not alone in mourning the Pontiff but non-Catholics and the whole world was mourning Pope John Paul II, who passed away on Saturday. "We pray you will get a worthy successor."

He congratulated Right Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, Catholic Bishop of Koforidua Diocese, who was a member of the delegation, on his appointment as the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Accra Archdiocese.

President Kufuor said; "you will be an asset not only to the Catholic Church but the nation as a whole."

Mr Joseph Henry Mensah, Senior Minister, said the Pontiff made a lot of changes in the world with Ghana being a beneficiary of these as the country moved towards freedom and high morality.

"The Pontiff left Ghanaians a legacy that will propel us towards the achievement of our vision and goals.

"I hope under the guidance of the Holy Spirit Catholics will be consoled. The world and our nation will join the Church to honour such a man, who is admired by Ghanaians."

Archbishop Kocherry said with the demise of Pope John Paul II, the global Catholic family had lost a great Pontiff and people of goodwill had lost a great promoter of peace.

He announced that a Book of Condolence would be opened at the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio from Tuesday, April 5 to Monday, April 11.

Pope John Paul II, the Spiritual Leader of the Catholic Church, died on Saturday, April 2.

The Polish Pontiff, 84, died exactly 1937 GMT at the Vatican after his health deteriorated on Thursday, March 31. He served for 26 years. He was the first non-Italian Pontiff elected in about four and a half centuries in 1978 to head the Church.

Meanwhile, the Vatican has declared nine days of mourning. The Pope's body would be transferred to St. Peters' Basilica on Monday to await burial on Friday April 8.

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