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Flags to Fly at Half Staff in Honor of the Pope

By Associated Press

Albany, NY – Governor George Pataki ordered flags at the state Capitol and around the state to be lowered to half staff in honor of Pope John Paul, whom he praised for his strength and courage in the face of death.

The pope, who led the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years, died in his Vatican apartment after a long public struggle against debilitating illness. He was 84.

Pataki issued a statement: "Even in declining health, he put his commitment to God, his duty to the church and his love of the people first."

The governor said meeting John Paul in 1995 in New York was a moving experience for him and his wife, Libby.

Similarly, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said she will cherish the times she met with John Paul when she was first lady.

Clinton said in a statement: "Whether fighting intolerance and oppression, or publicly bearing the suffering of illness and age, John Paul II stood always with spiritual firmness and grace."