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Billy Graham: Pope John Paul II Was "Most Influential Voice" in 100 Years

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- Speaking on the April 2 edition of CNN's Larry King Live program Dr. Billy Graham said that that Pope John Paul II was the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world in the last 100 years.

Dr. Graham told Larry King he had the privilege of seeing the Pope on several occasions at the Vatican.

"And tonight, I have a very strange feeling of loss. I almost feel as though one of my family members has gone. I loved him very much and had the opportunity of discussing so many things with him. And we wrote each other several times during the years," Dr. Graham said.

Larry King asked Dr. Graham: "Did he actually say to you once, "We are brothers' "?

GRAHAM: That's correct. He certainly did. He held my hand the first time that I met him about 1981 -- he'd just been Pope for two years when I saw him first. Because when he was elevated to the papacy, I was preaching in his cathedral in Krakow that very day. And we had thousands of people in the streets. And watching the television today of Krakow has brought back many memories.

KING: You said that he was an Evangelist.

GRAHAM: He was, indeed. He traveled throughout the world to bring his Christian message to the world. And we see tonight the outpouring from the world that he touched. And I think he touched almost everybody in the whole world.

KING: What, Billy, in your thoughts -- you said you feel like it's a personal loss. What in the human sense was so special about him?

GRAHAM: I think it was his background in Poland. And I had finished preaching all over Poland, gotten to know many people, and I knew a little bit about where he came from.

"And he was a suffering pope, too. He suffered as much as anybody you could ever imagine. His mother died when he was young. And he had that terrible assassination attack. And through it all, he taught us how to suffer. And I think in recent days he's taught us how to die.

KING: There is no question in your mind that he is with God now?

GRAHAM: Oh, no. There may be a question about my own, but I don't think Cardinal Wojtyla, or the Pope -- I think he's with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer.

KING: I understand that you've been invited to the funeral, but because of your own health, you can't attend. But someone in the Graham family is going to go?

GRAHAM: That's correct.

KING: Do you know who will go?

GRAHAM: I don't have the physical strength to go, and I have been invited. I was invited about six or seven months ago by the Vatican ahead of time. And they've asked that I come. So I asked if I could send my daughter. They wanted a woman to come representing me. So I'm asking my daughter, Anne Lotz, to go. And she's going with an associate of mine. And then my son, Franklin, will be going to the enthronement of the new Pope.

The previous day, Larry King spoke with actor Jim Caviezel, himself a Catholic, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ." He met with Pope John Paul in March, 2004.

LARRY KING: What was it like when you met him, James?

JAMES CAVIEZEL, ACTOR: Well Larry, I went into the Vatican and they took me from one room into the next. And immediately, I was intimidated. You know, I had an opportunity to meet him in 1984, I could have seen him and I didn't, and I always regretted it. So, when we were in Rome, I had this chance.

And finally, when I walked in the room, there he was, he was like 100 yards away. And by the time I got to him, I was so out of breath. And he looked at me, how are you? Jim Caviezel, not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.

He said Jim Caviezel, what have you learned in playing Jesus Christ? I said, well, Holy Father, I've been hanging out with -- he goes, yes, I said I think Jesus was Italian. He said, what? I said, well, he didn't leave home until he was 30. He always hang out with the same 12 guys, and his mother, believed he was God. So he had to be Italian, you know. I said, you're not upset with me.

"He said, no, I always believed he was Polish."

KING: What is it like for you tonight, James? Feeling as death approaches?

CAVIEZEL: Well, I mean, I think all good things come to an end, but he will be John Paul the Great. He's a man who really influenced me quite a bit.

"A long time ago, when I heard him speak, he said, set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation, be saints. And he said to a group of young people. This man really, I felt, reached out to my generation, especially the young people. And I was a part of that. And I think that inspired me. He was an actor, I thought, you know, hey, if the pope is an actor, maybe I can be an actor.

KING: It ought to have particularly thrilled you that he so enjoyed your performance.

CAVIEZEL: Oh, it was an honor to meet him, especially in that circumstance. And I was so glad to, you know, be able to tell him that, you know, he was a part of the reason why I was able to play that.

KING: How has -- as playing that -- we only have a little over a minute left -- playing Jesus, has that affected or changed you at all?

CAVIEZEL: I knew that before I took the role, that it would probably be like that. You know, I guess, in similar ways, guys like Christopher Reeve, who were great actors at Juilliard and goes on and plays Superman and everyone knows him as Superman, he's still a fine actor, but people identify him that way. And this is a different kind of Superman, you know.

KING: Have you ever doubted your faith?

CAVIEZEL: Sure. I always have doubts. I fear, but I go forward, you know. I know -- I look at it like I have no choice, I just -- I try to continue to do the right thing, you know.

More from's tribute to Pope John Paul II

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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