VATICAN CITY, APR 14, 2005 (VIS) - Last evening in St Peter's Basilica, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, presided at the sixth "novendiali" (nine days of mourning) Mass for the repose of the soul of John Paul II.

During the Eucharistic celebration, to which members of the Roman Curia were especially invited, Archbishop Sandri affirmed: "To us, above all, falls the task of bringing to fruition the legacy that this extraordinary Pope left to the Church and to the entire world in the course of his life and at the moment of his death."

"In the Apostolic Letter 'Novo millennio ineunte,' which the Pope signed at the end of the Great Jubilee Year 2000, he traced the guidelines for the beginning of the third Christian millennium, indicating Vatican Council II as the 'sure compass' to guide the Church's journey in the new millenium. ... By calling the Year of the Rosary, he again wished to highlight the importance of devotion to the Virgin Mary. With the special Year of the Eucharist that we are now living, ... the Supreme Pontiff reiterated the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery in the Church."

The substitute of the Secretariat of State emphasized the late pontiff's great love "for Christ, truly present in the Sacrament of the altar. This love becomes almost an invocation in the title of the Apostolic Letter 'Mane nobiscum Domine,' his last document for the Year of the Eucharist."

"Those who were able to follow the Pope's daily activity most closely, witnessed his profound love for the Eucharist. Before taking important decisions, he would spend a long time before the Most Holy Sacrament, taking the dossiers to be studied with him into his private chapel, and setting aside a time for reflection and prayer before the Tabernacle. Each choice would thus always and exclusively arise from the search for God's will and for the true good of the Church."

Archbishop Sandri referred to "a new element that emerged of the personality and the spirituality of the Pope, especially in the months marked by a progressive worsening of his health: the simplicity and poverty of his life. Those who had the opportunity to meet him on various occasions in the last weeks could not avoid feeling a sense of admiration for the modesty of the furnishings that surrounded him, as well as for his humility and simplicity, his sense of detachment and the complete willingness with which he abandoned himself in God's hands."

"Here is the great example," the archbishop concluded, "and the precious teaching that the late pontiff leaves to each of us called to work in the Roman Curia, the heart of Catholicism. It is an example of simplicity and detachment, of faithful and disinterested service in the Lord's vineyard, of constant willingness and docile compliance with the will of God."