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U.S. leaders pay tribute to pope


(CNN) -- Here are statements from U.S. religious and political leaders on the death of Pope John Paul II:

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President Bush:

"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." (Complete statement from President Bush)

Former President Bill Clinton:

"Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. 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. In more than 170 visits to over 115 countries, from the Balkans to the Middle East, from Central Africa to Asia, he was tireless in his efforts to defend human rights and human dignity. His remarkable journey from Wadowice, Poland, to the Vatican played an important role in hastening the downfall of communism. I will always treasure our five meetings in the U.S. and the Vatican, especially the deep concern His Holiness expressed over the suffering of the Bosnians and of religious liberty throughout the world.

"His Holiness is now at home with God, whom he served so faithfully for a lifetime."

The Rev. Billy Graham, on CNN's "Larry King Live":

"I think he touched almost everybody in the whole world ... He taught us how to suffer, and, I think, in recent days, he's taught us how to die."

Graham said the Vatican had invited him six or seven months ago to attend the funeral, but he doesn't have the strength to go. He said he will send his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington:

"This was an extraordinary man. He was brilliant. If he had never become pope, Karol Wojtyla would have gone down, I think, as one of the major Catholic philosophers of the 20th century. ... I think that he was a strong leader, he was a brilliant guide, but more than anything else, I think, he was a man who loved people. And people understood that and people reacted to that."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

"At the time when communism was breaking down finally, and needed strong people who were prepared to push those boulders aside, and to make it possible for tyranny to end in Europe, the pope was one of the most important spokesmen for, and really one of the most important actors in, that great drama. ... If you look at what happened in 1989 and 1990 and 1991, you cannot help but recognize the tremendous contribution of Pope John Paul II to those dramatic events and, therefore, to freedom."

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan:

"Pope John Paul II ... touched the hearts of young and old, bringing tears to the eyes of those inspired by his very presence. He provided unparalleled leadership to his church and gave hope to those who had none."

Former President Jimmy Carter:

"Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of His Holiness, Pope John Paul lI. A man shaped by his own experience under Nazi occupation during World War II, he dedicated his life and vocation as instruments of peace throughout the world. His was a constant voice for justice, nonviolence, and reconciliation for both individuals and nations. As a spiritual leader, he emphasized the common humanity of people of all faiths. His advocacy for the poor and oppressed will prevail as a source of hope and inspiration for others to follow. We will remember him with love and gratitude for his faithfulness to peace and human rights."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee:

"Pope John Paul was a man driven by faith, and his bold and impassioned leadership revolutionized the papacy. Guided by the truths of eternal tradition, he was a man of great conscience who was vigorous and engaged with many issues affecting the church and the world community. Though his body may have declined in recent years, his mind and spirit remained active. He led the church with dignity, grace and purpose. ... The Catholic Church has lost a great pope, and the world community has lost a great leader and friend. May God bless his memory."

Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts:

"I join my fellow Catholics and people everywhere in grieving the passing of the Holy Father. He was a devout and beloved spiritual leader for the Church who inspired people of all faiths and brought us closer to the great goal of peace on Earth. Even in his last days when he could not speak, he still was a strong moral voice heeded across the globe."

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts:

"Drawing upon his enduring moral strength and conviction, Pope John Paul II advanced the cause of solidarity in his native Poland and helped to topple communism around the world. We will never forget the example he set by forgiving the man who tried to take his life, and by praying at the Western Wall to ask Jews for their forgiveness. He traveled to places forgotten by all but God to pray for the sick and the poor, and millions turned out to hear his voice, even when strained. In death, as in life, his incredible spirit provides every Catholic with strength and his memory provides us with wisdom."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois:

"Pope John Paul II was a healer and a beacon of light around the world advocating for the poor, the oppressed and the unborn. He was and continues to be an inspiration to not only the 1 billion members of the Catholic Church but also to all other people of faith around the world."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California:

"Pope John Paul II was a man of God, and he was also a man of the people. He was a source of hope to so many, and he honored that devotion by traveling the world to reach out to people of all ages, nationalities, and faiths."


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