The Anglican Communion Office has received a great number of tributes to Pope John Paul II, who died last Saturday.
Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Primate of All Nigeria, highlighted Pope John Paul's leadership qualities. "He exemplified the unique life of Christ," he said. "...a man of peace, who loved justice and promoted ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue." The Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, the Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, stressed the Pope's great concern for Africa. "We are particularly grateful for the attention he paid to Africa and the developing world during his papacy...we share the grief and loss of the Catholic Church at his passing."
For Australians, the co-Chair of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and a member of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), Archbishop Peter Carnley, Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, said he would remember the Pope as a person of profound spirituality and Christian conviction, and as a steady friend and supporter of ecumenical work. "John Paul II," he said "was realistically aware of the challenges to overcome, but took the adventurous step in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint to invite other Churches to suggest ways in which his papal office might be made more amenable to other Christians."
From North America, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Revd Andrew Hutchison, recalled the Pope's inspiring visit to Toronto in 2002. "He made himself accessible to people and communicated the Gospel not only in words, but also by action," he said, remembering how his passion for human rights had created a new reality in Eastern Europe. "ARCIC, established in the wake of Vatican II, has continued to inspire dialogue between our two churches at every level.....we will continue to honour his memory in continuing to do all that we can to work towards the visible unity of our churches."
The Presiding Bishop of the USA, the Most Revd Frank Griswold, stated, "His voice and moral authority gave inspiration and hope to millions well beyond the Roman Catholic Church."
The Rt Revd Mouneer Anis, the Bishop in Egypt, highlighted specific instances of the Pope's moral authority. "He defended with courage the rights of the Palestinians and resisted with his bold statements the war in Iraq and the violence in the world."
The Church of England Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, the Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell, and his Suffragan Bishop the Rt Revd David Hamid, both of whom will attend the Pope's funeral, expressed gratitude to the Holy Father's kindness and warmth towards the Anglican Communion. In a letter expressing their condolences to the Dean and College of Cardinals of the Diocese of Rome, Bishop Geoffrey recalled how "On many occasions the Holy Father graciously welcomed me and my predecessors and other representatives of my Diocese in Rome.
"Such gestures of friendship have affirmed most positively the 'special place' which the Anglican Communion holds in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. We are grateful that even when, at times, our official bilateral relations have been strained the late Holy Father was unwavering in his kindness and warmth towards the members of our Communion."
The bishops also said they "treasure his vision of human dignity, his appeal for solidarity between races and religions, and his undying call for the human family to live in peace," adding that "All Christians have lost a great pastor and teacher, who was throughout his life concerned with the proclamation of the Christian Gospel."
The Pope, whose funeral will be held today in Rome, was a major force for ecumenical relations between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, ensuring strong relationships with three Archbishops of Canterbury, the late Lord Runcie, Lord Carey, and the Most Revd Rowan Williams.
The funeral is to be attended by Archbishop Rowan, the first Archbishop of Canterbury to attend a papal funeral, and on behalf of the Anglican Communion, the Secretary General, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, the Director of Ecumenical Affairs and Studies, the Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, the co-Chair of ARCIC, the Most Revd Peter Carnley, and the Rt Revd John Flack, the director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.