By Sherylin McMurtrey
Provo residents and surrounding local communities will lower their flags to half-staff today in remembrance and out of respect for Pope John Paul II, who died April 2.
In conjunction with a presidential order, Provo Mayor Lewis K. Billings has directed all flags on city buildings and grounds be flown at half-staff until sunset.
?On behalf of the residents of Provo, I wish to express our respect for the life and ministry of His Holiness Pope John Paul II,? stated Billings in a news release. ?He was a leader who exemplified the principle of service during the twenty-six years of his papacy. A humble man of great conviction, he used his influence in a manner that calmed world policy and extended goodwill to the leaders of nations. His warmth and compassion endeared him to people everywhere.?
Billings invited Provo business owners and residents who wished to express their respect to the pope to join with the city in lowering flags half-staff.
Bishop George H. Niederauer of the Diocese in Salt Lake City, also expressed his respect and admiration for the pope and the life he lived.
?Pope John Paul II has been an inspiration for hundreds of millions of people, leading the church into the third millennium of history,? stated Niederauer in a message on the Salt Lake City Diocese Web site. ?His embrace was universal, welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds, with special concern for the young, especially the lives of the unborn.
?He was sustained by prayer, strengthened through suffering and generous in sacrifice and love. He was a man of great hope, calling us to be not afraid. He changed the course of history by changing human hearts. We pray that God might grant him eternal peace and guide the church during this time of mourning.?
Niederauer said a theme that ran through the pope?s 26 years of teachings was the belief a loving God created men and women in his own image, thus giving them a profound value and dignity. He also said the distances in the world shrank during the pope?s pontificate, and he took advantage of it to visit as many people in the world as possible.
?The pope was a powerful voice and effective witness for our Catholic faith, bringing the message of Christ to the world,? Niederauer stated. ?He was a loving shepherd, preaching respect for all people, reconciliation, unity and peace. May God welcome him into the heavenly kingdom where he will have rest and peace forever.?