1004: RI president expresses sorrow upon Pope's death
- RI president expresses sorrow upon pope's death
Rotary International President Glenn Estess Sr. has expressed
heartfelt sorrow on behalf of the Rotary world upon the death of Pope
John Paul II.
"We are saddened by the news of the pope's passing. He was a man of
peace and a friend of Rotary," says Estess. "In words and deeds, the
pope shared many of the ideals of human brotherhood and sisterhood
and selfless service that inspired Paul Harris and his friends to
found Rotary 100 years ago."
In 1982, John Paul II was selected as a recipient of the Rotary Award
for World Understanding and Peace. Stanley McCaffrey, 1981-82 RI
president, personally delivered news of the award to the pope in
When presenting the award to Bishop Thomas Tschoepe, the pope's
special representative at the 1982 RI Convention in Dallas, Texas,
USA, McCaffrey explained: "I told the holy father that of all the
people in the world, he had been selected because of his untiring,
unceasing work for peace; he responded by saying, 'I shall keep
working, I shall keep working.' I felt those are words for us to live
by, as we work together to achieve world understanding and peace."
Several RI presidents and senior Rotary leaders visited with Pope
John Paul II during the over quarter-century he served as head of the
Roman Catholic Church. Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Carlo Ravizza,
who had an audience with the pontiff four times twice as RI
president and also in the company of RI presidents Carlos Canseco and
Herbert G. Brown recalls that "each meeting with him was a unique
"When you shook hands with the pope, you felt that he was
communicating with you directly on a personal basis," says
Ravizza. "He was more than just a leader of the Catholic Church. He
was a man who loved everyone regardless of race, religion, or color."
In 2000, John Paul became the first pope in history to address a
large audience of Rotarians when he spoke before 18,000 Rotarians and
their families and friends in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. "He
quoted Paul Harris," recalls Ravizza. "That was a surprise and a very
moving occasion. Earlier on, a cardinal spoke about Rotary's
activities around the world."
Aldo Ferretti, a past governor of District 2080 (Italy) who for the
past 12 years has served as a de facto liaison between visiting
Rotarians and the Vatican, also fondly remembers the many times that
the pontiff granted an audience with RI leaders.
"He had a wonderful relationship with us," says Ferretti. "When he
met with us ... during the 2000 Jubilee celebrations, I said thanks
to the pope. But the pope said, 'I've to thank you because you've
brought for me 18,000 sons and daughters.'"
Courtesy: R I Website
Rotarians in Rome are in mourning, according to Ferretti. "We're in a
very bad situation right now," he says. "We have suspended all Rotary
club meetings and [other Rotary-related] activities this week. We are
making arrangements to pay our last respects to the pope and for some
of us to be present at the funeral, if the tight security provisions
The pope was spiritual leader to the world's one billion Catholics
and temporal head of the tiny state of Vatican City for the last 27