VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2000 (VIS) - Following is the text of the telegram sent by Pope John Paul to Bishop Robert A. Brucato, auxiliary and apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of New York, for the death last evening at the age of 80 of Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor, archbishop of New York:

"With a deep sense of personal loss I have received the news of the death of Cardinal John J. O'Connor and I offer my prayerful condolences to you, the auxiliary bishops and the priests, religious and laity of the archdiocese of New York. With gratitude to God for the cardinal's many years of dedicated and courageous witness to the Gospel as chaplain in the armed forces, as bishop of Scranton and as archbishop of New York, I join you in commending this faithful servant of the Church to our heavenly Father's eternal love. As a deeply spiritual man, a warm and zealous pastor, an effective teacher of the faith and a vigorous defender of human life, Cardinal O'Connor modelled his own life and ministry on the figure of the good shepherd who to the end 'gives his life for the flock'. Through the years he has been of great support to me in the service of the universal Church, he worked tirelessly to build better ecumenical and inter-religious relations, and for Catholics and other Christians and men and women of good will throughout the world he was a source of inspiration in serving God in our less fortunate brothers and sisters. To the cardinal's family and to all who mourn him in the hope of the resurrection I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ."