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World mourns loss of pope, celebrates his life

This morning the world seems a little less peaceful, though Heaven certainly has its newest member.

Pope John Paul II, who led the more than 1.2 billion members of the Catholic faith for 26 years, succumbed to illness Saturday night at the Vatican.

As the leader of the Catholic Church John Paul shared the same spotlight and position also held by dozens of previous Popes.

But John Paul was different.

Perhaps the difference stemmed from his position as a bit of an outsider, perhaps even an underdog of sorts, when he was first selected as pope in 1978. His selection as the first non-Italian Pope in nearly 500 years left the world a bit surprised.

But if they thought John Paul's election was a surprise, his "outsider" status didn't last long. In no time, John Paul showed the world what an incredible spirit now sat on St. Peter's Throne.

John Paul was a person who could unite the diverse corners of the world when the world truly needed it. Through peaceful persistence led by his deep faith, John Paul helped defeat communism in Europe.

What's amazing is that he did this through will and faith alone. No blood was shed; simply John Paul's words of peace, determination and comfort led the people of the region to rise up against communism.

He also worked to bring together people of all faiths and from all walks of life. The world, John Paul, understood was filled with people, people who needed one another and faith.

John Paul was the first pope to visit the inside of a Jewish synagogue and a Muslim mosque. He understood that all people of religion needed to be understood.

John Paul accomplished much in his lifetime and ultimately in his decades as pope. From his position, he managed to change the world in his humble, gentle way.

His legacy will live for quite some time and his lessons of faith have left a mark on the world forever. And the world, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, mourn his loss, but celebrate his life.