Laura and I join people across the Earth in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. 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.
Pope John Paul II left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it -- as a witness to the dignity of human life. In his native Poland, that witness launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history. Throughout the West, John Paul's witness reminded us of our obligation to build a culture of life in which the strong protect the weak. And during the Pope's final years, his witness was made even more powerful by his daily courage in the face of illness and great suffering.
All Popes belong to the world, but Americans had special reason to love the man from Krakow. In his visits to our country, the Pope spoke of our "providential" Constitution, the self-evident truths about human dignity in our Declaration, and the "blessings of liberty" that follow from them. It is these truths, he said, that have led people all over the world to look to America with hope and respect.
Pope John Paul II was, himself, an inspiration to millions of Americans, and to so many more throughout the world. We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages.
President orders flags flown at half staff in honor of the pope:
As a mark of respect for His Holiness Pope John Paul II, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on the day of his interment. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
Statement from his weekly radio address:
Good morning. Before I begin today, I would like to say a word about Pope John Paul II. His Holiness is a faithful servant of God and a champion of human dignity and freedom. He is an inspiration to us all. Laura and I join millions of Americans and so many around the world who are praying for the Holy Father.