POPE JOHN PAUL II 1920-2005: Pope Praised for Role in City's Regeneration; Archbishop Speaks of John Paul II's Legacy Merseyside Pays Its Last Respects

Article excerpt

Byline: BY SAM LISTER and JESSICA SHAUGHNESSY

Archbishop Patrick Kelly led two services in dedic- ation.

Speaking of the Papal visit to Merseyside in 1982, he said the Pope had 'left a lasting legacy for Liverpool, in some ways his visit started the regeneration of the city A SENSE of sorrow was mixed with one of celebration yesterday as the people of Merseyside marked the death of Pope John Paul II.

Thousands of mourners attended services across the region to pay their respects to the Pontiff.

Many spoke of their sadness at losing a man who touched so many lives but also their relief that he was no longer suffering.

Pope John Paul died on Saturday at the age of 84, ending his 26 years at the helm of the Catholic church - the third longest papacy in history.

In Liverpool, the focus of grief was the city's Metropolitan Cathedral, on Hope Street, where dominate, there the cathedral of peace is being destroyed'.'

After taking communion, the congregation sang the hymn At the Lamb's High Feast, We Sing.

Archbishop Kelly ended the service by recounting one of the occasions he met the Pope.

He said: 'When I last had lunch with the Pope, he was in the middle of a deep conversation with another bishop when he turned to me and said 'Archbishop Kelly, do you support Liverpool or Everton?' 'I said 'that's a question I never answer' and the Pope just nodded and went back to his conversation.'

The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Brian Noble, said Roman Catholics turned outHe told how there had been a sense of triumph and celebration at the dignity the Pope had shown in the face of death.

Archbishop Kelly said: 'Today I feel triumphant that we have seen a disciple of the Lord showing the way a Christian dies.

'Wonderfully, because of the request that we wear red robes at the death of the Pope, I will be wearing today the red vestment that John Paul wore during his visit in 1982.

'There will be a gap in Liverpool for a time but the Lord is good at creating surprises.

'Now we have to study all of his readings, which showed his witness to the dignity of every human life.'

Auxiliary Bishop Tom Williams wore the silver cross given to him by the Pope when he met him in Rome and told how many local people felt they had lost a member of their family.

He said: 'I was ordained in 1983 and shortly after met the Pope during his silver jubilee and he gave me and each of the other bishops there a cross.

'It was a great honour. When I met him, it was his eyes that showed his experience and spirit within.

'He had great presence, something within just shone.

'I think most people are relieved that his life has come to an end in such a peaceful way.

'There is a sense of relief that the agony is over but at the same time a sense of sadness and loss.

'It's like losing a loved one, people have developed their own personal relationship with him.

'Liverpool people have a great understanding of grief. They know that it is not just a sad time but also a time of celebration of that life.'

The funeral bell tolled as more than 2,000 mourners filed into the Metropolitan Cathedral for mass yesterday morning and then prayers at a special afternoon service.

Hundreds signed the books of condolence in the entrance with one young girl called Elise summing up the sentiment by simply writing: 'I love you'.

Many took hope from the words of the Archbishop as he told how the Pope had asked people not for tears but for 'prayers and songs of joy' just an hour before his death.

Some sobbed quietly as they reflected upon the loss of the man who reached out to so many when he journeyed to the city more than 20 years ago.

One woman was so overcome by the events she left in tears.

A picture of the man they had all turned up to say a prayer for rested on a plinth by the side of the alter. …