Statement by the Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America

On Saturday, April 2, 2005, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, sent letters of condolence to Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, and Walter Cardinal Kasper of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, upon learning of the death of Pope John Paul II.

"I greet you with brotherly love in Christ and extend the condolences of the Holy Synod of Bishops, Hierarchs, Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America," Metropolitan Herman wrote. "Throughout the many years of his service as spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, he was a shining example of dedication to the episcopal ministry and to the high office to which he was called and a 'good steward of the manifold grace of God' [1 Peter 4:10]."

Metropolitan Herman also noted that, in word and deed, the late Pope "constantly reminded all humanity of our shared responsibility to defend the rights of the poor, the defenseless, and those who have no one to speak for them" and remained steadfast "in proclaiming the 'Gospel of Life' and in safeguarding the dignity and sanctity of life in all its stages.

"This, perhaps, will be his greatest legacy, not only to the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church, but also for all Christians and all people of good will," the letter of condolence concluded.

Earlier in the week, upon learning of the Pope's failing health, Metropolitan Herman sent a letter of concern to Cardinal Kasper.

During his lengthy pontificate, Pope John Paul II met with several hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in America in the Vatican and during his visits to North America.