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Daily Archives: April 3, 2008

Vatican mass marks third year since death of ‘mystic’ John Paul II

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday celebrated mass in St Peter's Square to mark the third anniversary of the death of predecessor John Paul II, praising his "exceptional spiritual and mystic sensibility."
Several thousand pilgrims joined in the commemoration of the first Polish pope, who ruled the Roman Catholic Church for nearly 27 years and died aged 84.
John Paul II's personal secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz, who has since become the archbishop of Krakow, as well as several other cardinals co-celebrated the mass with Benedict XVI.
In his homily, Benedict noted "the many human and supernatural qualities" of John Paul II including "an exceptional spiritual and mystic sensibility."
He recalled one of the late pope's final appearances when John Paul II, suffering from Parkinson's disease, could not speak. It was on Good Friday, when Christians mark Christ's crucifixion.
"This eloquent scene of human suffering and faith … showed the secret of the whole of Christian life to the faithful and to the world," he said.
Benedict said John Paul II "personally knew and experienced the horrible tragedies of the 20th century, and he long wondered what could stem the tide of evil."
Only "the love of God" provided the answer, Benedict said, urging the worshippers to "thank the Lord for having given the Church this faithful and courageous servant."
Born Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, near Krakow, John Paul II lived through his country's occupation by the Nazis and subsequent communist rule.
On Tuesday, the prelate in charge of the beatification process for John Paul II said the dossier was nearly complete for the popular late pope to take the first step to sainthood.

Symbolic crossing in divided Nicosia to open today

A symbolic crossing over the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, Europe's last divided capital, will open today, a diplomatic source said yesterday.
"I can confirm that Ledra Street will open today at 9 am," the source said.
The opening of the Ledra Street crossing, in the heart of a shopping district inside the walled old city, would signal a new climate of trust on Cyprus that has been divided for the past 34 years.
The move was agreed at a breakthrough meeting last month between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat who also agreed to resume reunification talks in three months.
Ledra Street, in a pedestrian area of Nicosia, would be the sixth such crossing on the divided eastern Mediterranean island to open since April 2003 when Turkish Cypriots for the first time lifted entry restrictions for Greek Cypriots.
The February election of Christofias, a Greek Cypriot, sparked a renewed drive for peace after several years of stalemate under his predecessor Tassos Papadopoulos.
The barricades on Ledra Street were among the first to be erected after intercommunal violence flared in the city in 1963, leading to the arrival the following year of UN peacekeeping troops who have remained ever since.
Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey seized its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the island with Greece.
A UN bid to reunite the island failed in 2004 when the Greek Cypriots voted against the plan in a referendum, although the Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly in favour.