As Catholics worldwide mourn the passing of Pope John Paul II, we, too, lament the loss of one of the world's greatest leaders.

Not only was the pope the leader of the Roman Catholic church, he was an advocate of peace and reform, human rights and traditional values.

He's been called a "political giant," an "epic figure" and "man of the century" for his religious and political leadership.

In keeping with tradition, John Paul II opposed abortion, the death penalty, divorce, contraception and euthanasia while upholding the Catholic doctrine, Canon law, and high morals and values. He also took a stand on the world stage, reaching out to Catholics worldwide and opposing war, communism and cloning.

He often blasted Western society for its materialism and declining moral fiber.

The pope called on people worldwide to be free and used modern technology - television, the Internet and even wireless phones - to touch the hearts and minds of both the faithful and not-so-faithful.

In short, Pope John Paul II was good for the world, not just Catholics.

His unwavering convictions made him both a great leader and communicator.

That strength of conviction was, in part, responsible for the fall of communism in Europe.

After being elected pope in 1978, John Paul II, born Karol Jozef Wojtylla, returned to his native Poland to support the Solidarity movement, which set the stage for the eventual fall of communism.

He openly encouraged dissent worldwide against authoritarian governments and supported efforts to end bloodshed in Serbia, but blasted the United States for it's Persian Gulf war and recent invasion of Iraq.

His efforts in conflicts around the world may stem from his own upbringing and young adulthood in Nazi-occupied Poland, where at the height of World War II and the Holocaust, he clandestinely studied seminary classes.

No other pope has touched the lives of so many people. During his papalcy, John Paul II traveled to 117 countries and greeted more than 17.6 million pilgrims at the Vatican.

There's no doubt the pope earned a significant place in history.

And there's no doubt the man who set up to make the world a better place to live in the midst of the Holocaust will be missed, as will his passion, integrity and convictions.

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