Paris bells ring out for Pope

3rd April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 3 (AFP) - The church bells of Paris tolled in mourning for Pope John Paul II Sunday evening, as a solemn mass attended by President Jacques Chirac and other dignitaries was held in the cathedral of Notre Dame.

PARIS, April 3 (AFP) - The church bells of Paris tolled in mourning for Pope John Paul II Sunday evening, as a solemn mass attended by President Jacques Chirac and other dignitaries was held in the cathedral of Notre Dame.

Thousands of people congregated on the cathedral concourse on the Ile de la Cite to watch the service on a giant screen as the capital's archbishop Monsignor Andre Vingt-Trois led the congregation in prayers.

Across France many churches followed suit, tolling their bells at 6:30 p.m. (1630 GMT) and holding special masses. Some parishes were to hold overnight vigils, or were planning services on Monday.

Among those attending the Notre Dame mass were Chirac and his wife Bernadette, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and his wife Anne-Marie, as well as several ministers.

Religious leaders in attendance included the rector of the Paris mosque Dalil Boubakeur, the heads of the Orthodox and Protestant churches, and senior figures from the Jewish community.

In his address Vingt-Trois paid homage to John Paul II's "unshakeable faith."

"He was convinced that Christian faith is not a kind of spirituality for use in literary salons, but a real force for understanding human destiny," the archbishop said.

"Against winds and tides and often against the immediate desires of a culture of satisfaction, he pleaded for the grandeur in each human to be respected - including in the most forlorn and vulnerable."

Vingt-Trois paid tribute to the late Pope's "work of remembrance and repentance for mistakes and sins committed ... He knew that without this work of truth ... the church would have no hope for the future."

He also hailed "one of those who embarked with determination on the road of positive relations both with Orthodox and Protestant Christians, and with Jews, Muslims and other religions."

In a tribute made public earlier in the day Chirac said, "I wish to express France's homage to a man who carried with incomparable fervour, conviction and courage a message of hope for all the peoples of the world.

"The message of faith and unflagging action helped change the course of history ... (John Paul II) dedicated so much effort ... so that Europe could overcome its divisions, free itself from the Soviet yoke and at last find, peacefully, the paths of freedom.

"Humanity loses an inspired pastor, an unflagging defender of the dignity of man. He will leave behind a deep imprint on the memory of all - Christians and non-Christians alike," he said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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