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World Leaders Hail John Paul


The world's political leaders are marking the passing of Pope John Paul.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the pontiff an outstanding figure whose spiritual and political heritage will hold a major place in world history. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev described the pope as the number one humanist on the planet.

Former Polish president and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa credited the pope with ending communism in Eastern Europe.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth honored John Paul for promoting Christian unity among all denominations.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised John Paul for defending Palestinian freedom and independence, while Israel's Foreign Minister (Silvan Shalom) said the pope built bridges of brotherhood between all faiths.

In Cuba, which the pope had visited, President Fidel Castro declared an official period of mourning.

And in the United States, President Bush said the world has lost a champion of freedom and one of history's great moral leaders. Mr. Bush ordered U.S. flags to fly at half-staff.

The pope opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, but Mr. Bush and the pontiff shared conservative views on social issues.

Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter remembered John Paul's leadership, as did the Roman Catholic former presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry.
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