Statement by Catholic Charities USA President Rev. Larry Snyder on the Death of Pope John Paul II

Catholic Charities USA
Saturday, 2 April 2005

Catholic Charities USA is profoundly saddened by the passing of Pope John Paul II. With his deep commitment to charity and justice, he was a source of inspiration, of affirmation, of love, and of hope for all of us in the Catholic Charities network.
For more than 26 years as head of our Church, his Holiness moved us with his apostolic zeal, visiting nations and peoples of the world to proclaim God's love and teaching. He enriched and challenged us by forceful advocacy on behalf of the world's oppressed and poor, the sacredness of family and human life, the God-given dignity of the human person, the solidarity of the human family, and the rights of working men and women.

On Sept. 13, 1987, in San Antonio, the Catholic Charities family was honored with a visit from the Pontiff at our annual conference and spoke of the importance of following in Jesus' footsteps by reaching out to those in need. Read the Pope's address to Catholic Charities USA.

His Holiness told those at our gathering that, "Jesus identifies himself with the poor and defenseless: What we do for them is done for him; the service we fail to render them is service denied to him."

He also stressed the critical importance of charity and justice. "Gather, transform, and serve! When done in the name of Jesus Christ this is the spirit of Catholic Charities and all who work for this cause, because it is the faithful following of the one who did 'not come to be served but to serve'"(Mk. 10:45), he proclaimed.

Throughout his papacy, Pope John Paul II called on us all to come together as a church and a society to work for compassion and justice for those living in poverty and suffering from oppression. Catholic Charities USA and its 1,341 member agencies and institutions across the country will continue to heed his call and live out his legacy through our services and support to nearly seven million people a year.

The poor were never far from the heart of Pope John Paul II. He was deeply influenced by his experience of human suffering in his native Poland and in his travels throughout the world. Many of his encyclicals and teachings deal with matters of social justice. He was concerned with personal responsibility and just social systems. We can best honor his witness by being consistent in heeding his call to remake society by principles of charity and justice and keeping the poor and oppressed in our hearts as well.

For more information, or to contact Catholic Charities USA, see their website at:

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