Colorado Catholics Celebrate Pope's 25th Anniversary

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On Thursday, Catholics around the world gathered to mark Pope John Paul II's 25th year as head of the church.

In Colorado Springs, followers paid their respects by attending mass at St. Mary's Cathedral. One of their main concerns is the 83-year-old pontiff's failing health and the future of the church. But overall, they're very excited about his 25 years of service.

Bishop Michael Sheridan of the Colorado Springs Diocese considers Pope John Paul II one of the most influential leaders in all history. "He has, I think like no other, been able to penetrate the hearts of not only Catholics but of those of different faiths of the world," says Peter Howard, Diocese spokesperson.

Bishop Sheridan also speaks of God's continuing work through the Pope. Chantal Howard agrees. "As he gets older, his message and his witness gets stronger."

She would know. Howard met the Pope during World Youth Day in Paris in 1997.
"Usually you think of a pope as someone far off---distant from you. But he's so close."

Howard says she's a little concerned about his health when she sees him slumped over and mumbling his words. But she is confident someone qualified will take his place.

Others aren't as sure. Here is one reactions from a St. Mary's parishioner. "I pray he has more time with us. But when it's his time, God will elect a wonderful new pope."

But they do agree, he's remained true to biblical teachings and to God, despite recent controversies in the church.

Officials at the Colorado Springs Diocese say they believe the Pope is healthier than the media often portrays. They also say he still keeps up a schedule even healthier people would have trouble tackling.