My dear brothers and sisters,

It is with profound sadness that we have received the news of the death of Pope John Paul II. I join with the faithful of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in mourning the passing of this great leader in our Church.

Since 1978, Pope John Paul II led the Church with his wisdom, his deep prayerfulness, and his fatherly love. His more than 104 pastoral visits to countries outside of Italy demonstrated his pastoral care for the Church throughout the world; and thus personified the Church’s concern for justice and the promotion of the dignity of each human person, no matter where they were or in whatever condition they may be found. In particular, he was a special father to young people, having established World Youth Day and celebrated that event on every continent of the globe.

Without a doubt Pope John Paul II will be remembered as one of the greatest popes in history. Through his boundless energy and deep commitment to his mission, he has elevated the papacy to a ministry of service not only for Catholics, but for all people on the earth. He leaves us an example of untiring love and concern for all people.

Throughout these next days of mourning, this local Church will join with the rest of the Church and the world in celebrating the memory of this great pope and lover of humanity; and we will pray that he may find rest from his labors and be united with the immortal God, whom he served so well on this earth.  

We trust that God, in his infinite goodness and concern for His Church, will guide the College of Cardinals as they assemble in Rome to select a new Holy Father. May the spirit of Jesus, who is always present in the Church, guide and direct us at this special time.


Sincerely yours in the Lord,



John H. Ricard, SSJ

Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee