World Leaders Pay Tribute to Pope

04/03/2005 at 12:00 PM EDT

World Leaders Pay Tribute to Pope
Pope John Paul II, September 1987
Dirck Halstead/Time Life Pictures/Getty
Sunday brought a full day of mourning for Pope John Paul II in every corner of the world.

"Laura and I join people across the earth in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II," said President Bush. "The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home."

Calling the pontiff a "shining example" of spiritual faith, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on TV: "Even if you're not a Catholic, even if you're not a Christian, in fact even if you have no religious faith at all, what people could see in Pope John Paul was a man of true and profound spiritual faith, a shining example of what that faith should mean."

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The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in a statement from his exile in northern India, said: "Pope John Paul II was a man I held in high regard. His experience in Poland, then a communist country, and my own difficulties with communists, gave us a common ground."

Addressing his cabinet, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said: "Pope John Paul II was a man of peace, a friend of the Jewish nation ... and worked for the historic reconciliation between the nations and for the renewal of diplomatic ties between Israel and the Vatican at the end of 1993."

Said Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: "Our people received the news of his death with a deep sense of grief and loss. He was a holy champion of the Filipino family."

And Australian Prime Minister John Howard, an Anglican, described the pope as "a very significant political figure."

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