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Carole Mikita reporting As millions the world over mourn the passing of Pope John Paul II, those feelings are echoed here in Utah. For so many Catholics, he is the only leader they have known.
But any service on his passing, should also be a celebration of his life, because so often John Paul spoke of the value of human life.
Bishop George Niederauer, Salt Lake Diocese: "A key theme, really from his experience in philosophy and theology is the priceless value of every individual human person."
That is embodied in the pope's lifelong battle against communism. As a young priest, Karol Wolteja, in Poland fought valiantly against that government's persecution of his faith for 30 years.
Bishop Niederauer: "He lived under a system where every morning, afternoon and evening, all the forces of government were brought to bear on making his leadership on the local church in Poland, as difficult as possible."
As the leader of Utah's Catholics, Bishop Niederauer has met with the pope twice, first in 1998... 20th anniversary of his election.
During their visit in June of 2004, Bishop Niederauer noticed a much weaker pontiff but still one who cared about his flock in Utah.
Bishop Niederauer: "Ministering to families-- he was very interested in marriage and family life, and how we support that by the differnt programs we have. He's just very caring about people."
So many, not of his faith, held Pope John Paul II in high esteem. Utah Philanthropist Jon Huntsman, Sr. places himself among them. He remembers meeting the pontiff.
Jon M. Huntsman, Sr.: "He put his arms around me and he first kissed me on the cheek, and then he said, 'Mr. Huntsman, I want you to know that I love you and I am so grateful for what you have done for others.' And I said, 'And I, too, want to thank you very, very much on behalf of everyone from Utah and everyone from the United States for the remarkable way in which you treat people.'"
One of the endearing qualities about John Paul was his appeal to young people. Here in Utah, he is described as a religious diplomat.
Channing McCabe, Judge Memorial H.S. senior: "Reaching out to all communities. Being such an inspirational, spiritual guide. I think that's one of the biggest contributions he's given to our society."
Sam Hatziathanasiou, Judge Memorial H.S. senior: "It's because he's done so much to help so many people that universally he's just recognized as a very gracious man who really has a will, a strong will not only to serve God but to help people."
Always a strong presence, John Paul II will be remembered as a very holy, very dedicated man of faith.
Corethia Qualls, Ph.D., Judge Memorial H.S. Religous teacher: "The most active part of his career has been his travels. He's been a pope for all the world."
At evening mass Saturday, words of comfort.
"Certainly there is deep sorrow in the hearts of people of all faiths, throughout the world. But we will all be nourished by his legacy and the memories of the precious days of his papacy."
Inside the Cathedral of the Madeleine now rests a portrait of the Holy Father, draped in black.
John Paul II was described today as a leader with great zeal, imagination and creativity, helping people find solutions to problems in the modern world.
Bishop George Niederauer, Diocese of Salt Lake City: "It's a powerful symbol to us that this is all happening in the Easter season and, indeed, in Easter week. It is a powerful sign of our hope."
Christopher Wilson: "I just know that Catholics right now are mourning everywhere. I know for a fact, because there will never be another him, never."
Christo Krsceyak: "Today is a very sad day. We had to be here, so we are here. We are praying. We will be crying."
The Catholic Diocese will hold a special funeral mass to honor the Pope on the same day as the one at the Vatican. That should be in four to six days.