Pope John Paul II a Great Prophet - Filipino Bishops

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MANILA, Philippines - The upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican on May 1 has stirred Filipino bishops' fond memories of the pontiff.Lipa, Batangas, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz described the late pontiff as "a great prophet" and a "saint long since.""Even if you do not canonize him for me, he is a saint. The fact that no Pope could equal his influence in the world," said Cruz."In media, two or three days in the news usually you are out. Mother Theresa was only in the news for four days but with him, he was in the news for two weeks," he added.Cruz said that even the Mass and vigil for the Pope was also non-stop which only proves how well-loved the Pope is and how many lives he was able to touch.Caceres Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legazpi said he has talked with the Pope several times and even had breakfast and lunch with him."He was very paternalistic in my regard and very charismatic," the 75-year-old prelate told CBCP News.Prelature of Isabela de Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said he first met the late pontiff in September, 2002, when new bishops from all over the world had an audience at the Vatican."During the picture-taking, I touched his shoulder and he just looked at me and smiled," he said.That experience, Jumoad said, was "heaven" for him.Virac Bishop Manolo delos Santos said the most remarkable asset of Pope John Paul II was his charisma which went beyond Catholics. He also praised the deceased pontiff for his genuine concern for the young.Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma said Pope John Paul II was a pioneer in inter-religious dialogue when he began the worldwide prayer for peace during the feast of St. Francis of Assisi in 1986.The Polish-born Pope is set to be beatified on May 1, 2011 in fitting and elaborate ceremonies at the Vatican.'Be not afraid' changed worldMeanwhile, Lech Walesa, Poland's Solidarity legend, said Pope John Paul II's guidance was decisive in giving Poles the courage to take on the communist regime and sped the demise of the Soviet bloc."He woke us up," the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize laureate told AFP as he prepared to travel to the Vatican for the late Polish pope's May 1 beatification."He said 'be not afraid, change the face of the Earth'. Our nation woke up, other nations were woken up," he added, referring to a landmark sermon delivered behind the Iron Curtain by the freshly elected pontiff during his first trip home in June 1979. …