Reactions in Portugal

news: Reactions in Portugal

Jorge Sampaio

President of the Republic

“Pope John Paul II was one of the most remarkable figures in contemporary history and will be universally remembered as such, however his actions and his legacy are judged.”

José Sócrates

Prime Minister of Portugal

“He was a great friend of Portugal. He visited our country four times as pontiff and those visits will never be forgotten by the Portuguese.”

Aníbal Cavaco Silva

Former Prime Minister of Portugal

“He was a Pope of the World. Pope John Paul II defended the poor and the oppressed and gave great hope to the young.”

Special Eucharist service

held in memory of Pope

The Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal D. José da Cruz Policarpo, delivered a homily in memory of Pope John Paul II during a special Eucharist service held on Sunday at Sé Catedral de Lisboa. The service was attended by Portugal’s key public figures including President of the Republic Jorge Sampaio and his wife Maria José Ritta, Prime Minister José Sócrates, President of the Assembleia da República, Jaime Gama, and the President of Lisbon Câmara, Pedro Santana Lopes. Hundreds of followers listened to the Patriarch’s homily, in which he told those gathered: “The doors that John Paul II opened during his papacy will not be closed. This Pope opened doors that no-one undertook to open previously, namely to different religions, facilitating dialogues between them.”

Special link with Portugal

Pope John Paul II undoubtedly enjoyed a special link with Portugal and particularly with Fátima. On May 13 2000, the Pope conducted a historic ceremony in Portugal to beatify two shepherd children, whom, in 1917, reported seeing visions of the Virgin Mary on a hillside near the town of Fátima. Both children died before reaching 11 years of age. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims joined the President and the Prime Minister of Portugal, for the beatification at a shrine in Fátima, 100km north of Lisbon. May 13 has a double significance, it marks both the day of the first of the “apparitions” in 1917 and of the Pope’s brush with death in Rome in 1981. The Pope was so convinced that the Virgin intervened to save him that he left the bullet that was pulled from his body in the golden crown of the Madonna, during a visit to Fátima in 1991. The last of the three visionaries, Sister Lúcia dos Santos, died earlier this year. It was only on the Saturday of the beatification ceremony that the Vatican revealed the closely guarded third secret of Fátima, the prophecy of the 1981 attempt on the Pope’s life. The first secret was a vision of hell said to refer to the two World Wars and the second was the prediction of the fall of Communism in Russia.

Pope deserves to

become a saint

Those at the very top of the Catholic Church believe that Karol Wojtyla will be made a saint due to his charismatic personality and the strength and dimension of his papacy. A development strongly supported by the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima, D. Serafim Ferreira e Silva. “He entirely deserves this recognition,” says the bishop. For Karol Wojtyla to become a saint, the process would need to be initiated by a diocese from his home city or another that is linked, or by a popular movement. The first stage would be for him to be recognised as a Servant of God, or in other words to be recognised for his heroic efforts. Only after this can come the beatification and the canonisation. “By the rules, the process can only begin five years after his death, but the future Pope is able to authorise that the proceedings be initiated without delay,” says the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima. For the process to begin, there must first be a miracle but, due to the popularity and the spiritual greatness of Karol Wojtyla, this should not prove difficult. It is natural that, during the funeral and over these next days, many people will appear claiming to have been cured or to feel better thanks to the intercession of Pope John Paul II.

President had audience

with Pope late last year

President Jorge Sampaio went to the Vatican on November 12, 2004 for an audience with Pope John Paul II. The topic of euthanasia was the issue in the news at the time and, during the meeting, the Pope praised Portugal’s visiting President for his nation’s conservative Catholicism, saying it could inspire hope amid a “grave crisis” in modern values. Mostly Roman Catholic, Portugal has some of Europe’s strictest abortion laws. “The world continues to look to Portugal with hope, especially in terms of becoming aware of the grave crisis of values in modern society, ever more insecure in the face of fundamental ethical decisions for the future path of humanity,” the Pontiff told Sampaio.

Country praised for

preserving Christian heritage

In September last year, Pope John Paul II thanked the government of Portugal for supporting efforts to include a reference to Christianity in the European Constitution. In his remarks, the Pontiff emphatically praised Portugal for “highlighting” the Christian identity of Europe.

Pope pleased with

Portugal’s concordat

The Pope expressed his satisfaction with a new concordat, signed by the representatives of the Vatican and Portugal in May last year. The new agreement, that replaced one dating back to 1940, is “a living expression of the mature consensus” between the government and the Church, the Pope said. The concordat, he added, will “reinforce the presence of the Christian ‘soul’ deeply rooted in the historical ties between the Catholic Church and Portugal”.

Portuguese cardinal is

candidate for the papacy

Various Vatican analysts believe that one of the principal candidates for the papacy is the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal D. José da Cruz Policarpo. The cardinal left for Rome earlier this week to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II and also to participate in the conclave that will elect the new Pope, for which he could be one of the key candidates. The Patriarch has confirmed that “he is available to do whatever the church wishes”. Known as a moderate with management experience and a solid theological reputation, he could rise as the agreed candidate.