ANALYSIS
A funeral mass with cheers and applause
By Steve Kloehn

Tribune staff reporter

Published April 8, 2005, 11:58 AM CDT

 

VATICAN CITY -- In the end, it was the people's mass.


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For two hours, the funeral for Pope John Paul II had carried all the somber drama and dignity of the Roman Catholic Church, 2,000 years in the making.

 

At noon Friday, 164 cardinals formed scarlet columns on either side of the pope's simple casket as they were preparing to pay their last respects. The liturgy called for a moment of silence.

 

Instead, a new round of applause began deep in the crowd that filled St. Peter's Square. The applause swelled, echoing in the square and rolling down the broad avenue toward the Tiber River. Then the cheers began.

 

Some people were chanting the pope's name. Others were chanting "Santo!" -- an allusion to a possible sainthood for John Paul II -- in a rhythmic outpouring of affection.

 

Whatever the words, the sound would have been familiar to Pope John Paul II, whose masses around the world inevitably turned into jubilant festivals of cheering and song.

 

The crowd did not let up for three and a half minutes and would have gone longer, if Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who celebrated the funeral mass, had not launched into the next prayer.

 

The happy sounds of a stadium would have been out of place at the funerals of many world leaders, but they perfectly fit the man who got them cheering in the first place.

 

Even Ratzinger, the senior cardinal and chief doctrinal disciplinarian, adopted a tone of familiarity when he spoke about his friend of 40 years. He too evoked the image of a pope who was very much present at his own funeral.

 

"None of us can ever forget how, in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing," he said in his homily.

 

"We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us."

 

Throughout the 2-hour and 40-minute liturgy, as strong, cold winds drove scudding clouds overhead, the grandeur of the scene and the profundity of the event were leavened with human responses to the pontiff, a man welcomed 26 years ago as "the people's pope."

 

The crowd applauded when the pope's casket was carried out on a red velvet bier and laid in the square.

 

They applauded Ratzinger's warm touches in the homily, and at other points during the mass as well.

 

They finished their tribute with a prolonged round of applause -- this one spreading even to the princes and presidents in the VIP seating -- when John Paul II's pall bearers turned his casket around and tipped it toward the crowd for one last look before taking it inside the basilica.

 

After the tears shed during three extraordinary days of visitation for the pope, this had a different feel, one that mixed the sense of loss with pride and gratitude, and a repeated insistence on the pope's continuing presence.

 

" `Rise, let us be on our way!' -- with these words he roused us from a lethargic faith," Ratzinger said, alluding to the title of a recent memoir by John Paul II. " `Rise, let us be on our way!' he continues to say to us even today."

 

Other reminders of the pope surfaced as well.

 

The litany of the saints, a chant in which a cantor names saints and worshipers respond by asking that saint to pray for them, is one of the most ancient forms of Christian prayer.

 

On Friday, along with naming early Christian martyrs, the giant outdoor congregation appealed to modern Polish saints Maxmilian Kolbe and Maria Faustina Kowalski, and several other saints canonized by John Paul II during his unprecedented quarter-century campaign to recognize examples of holiness all over the world.

 

His interfaith work made itself evident as well. Alongside the heads of state and other dignitaries in black suits and dresses sat an interfaith delegation that included guests in robes of green, tan, salmon and saffron, worn by Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Their prominent presence recalled the pope's efforts to engage religions of every kind during the World Days of Prayer in 1986 and 2002.

 

Scarlet vestments were also a vivid reminder of the pope -- of the 183 living cardinals, only 13 predate the pontificate of John Paul II, and 10 of those are more than 80 years old. The vast majority of the cardinals in attendance Friday were elevated by the pope they came to bury.

 

But the element of the funeral that most clearly evoked John Paul II was the crowd, dotted everywhere with the red-and-white flag of Poland. In the predawn hours Friday, as huge crowds began to gather at security checkpoints, Polish was the language murmured in the dark.

 

And when it came to breaking through the formality of the funeral, it was John Paul II's countrymen who led the way, especially the young pilgrims, many of whom have never known a world without a Polish pope.

Copyright 2005, Chicago Tribune

 

 

By Steve Kloehn
Tribune staff reporter
Published April 8, 2005, 11:58 AM CDT


VATICAN CITY -- In the end, it was the people's mass.

For two hours, the funeral for Pope John Paul II had carried all the somber drama and dignity of the Roman Catholic Church, 2,000 years in the making.

At noon Friday, 164 cardinals formed scarlet columns on either side of the pope's simple casket as they were preparing to pay their last respects. The liturgy called for a moment of silence.

Instead, a new round of applause began deep in the crowd that filled St. Peter's Square. The applause swelled, echoing in the square and rolling down the broad avenue toward the Tiber River. Then the cheers began.

Some people were chanting the pope's name. Others were chanting "Santo!" -- an allusion to a possible sainthood for John Paul II -- in a rhythmic outpouring of affection.

Whatever the words, the sound would have been familiar to Pope John Paul II, whose masses around the world inevitably turned into jubilant festivals of cheering and song.

The crowd did not let up for three and a half minutes and would have gone longer, if Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who celebrated the funeral mass, had not launched into the next prayer.

The happy sounds of a stadium would have been out of place at the funerals of many world leaders, but they perfectly fit the man who got them cheering in the first place.

Even Ratzinger, the senior cardinal and chief doctrinal disciplinarian, adopted a tone of familiarity when he spoke about his friend of 40 years. He too evoked the image of a pope who was very much present at his own funeral.

"None of us can ever forget how, in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing," he said in his homily.

"We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us."

Throughout the 2-hour and 40-minute liturgy, as strong, cold winds drove scudding clouds overhead, the grandeur of the scene and the profundity of the event were leavened with human responses to the pontiff, a man welcomed 26 years ago as "the people's pope."

The crowd applauded when the pope's casket was carried out on a red velvet bier and laid in the square.

They applauded Ratzinger's warm touches in the homily, and at other points during the mass as well.

They finished their tribute with a prolonged round of applause -- this one spreading even to the princes and presidents in the VIP seating -- when John Paul II's pall bearers turned his casket around and tipped it toward the crowd for one last look before taking it inside the basilica.

After the tears shed during three extraordinary days of visitation for the pope, this had a different feel, one that mixed the sense of loss with pride and gratitude, and a repeated insistence on the pope's continuing presence.

" `Rise, let us be on our way!' -- with these words he roused us from a lethargic faith," Ratzinger said, alluding to the title of a recent memoir by John Paul II. " `Rise, let us be on our way!' he continues to say to us even today."

Other reminders of the pope surfaced as well.

The litany of the saints, a chant in which a cantor names saints and worshipers respond by asking that saint to pray for them, is one of the most ancient forms of Christian prayer.

On Friday, along with naming early Christian martyrs, the giant outdoor congregation appealed to modern Polish saints Maxmilian Kolbe and Maria Faustina Kowalski, and several other saints canonized by John Paul II during his unprecedented quarter-century campaign to recognize examples of holiness all over the world.

His interfaith work made itself evident as well. Alongside the heads of state and other dignitaries in black suits and dresses sat an interfaith delegation that included guests in robes of green, tan, salmon and saffron, worn by Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Their prominent presence recalled the pope's efforts to engage religions of every kind during the World Days of Prayer in 1986 and 2002.

Scarlet vestments were also a vivid reminder of the pope -- of the 183 living cardinals, only 13 predate the pontificate of John Paul II, and 10 of those are more than 80 years old. The vast majority of the cardinals in attendance Friday were elevated by the pope they came to bury.

But the element of the funeral that most clearly evoked John Paul II was the crowd, dotted everywhere with the red-and-white flag of Poland. In the predawn hours Friday, as huge crowds began to gather at security checkpoints, Polish was the language murmured in the dark.

And when it came to breaking through the formality of the funeral, it was John Paul II's countrymen who led the way, especially the young pilgrims, many of whom have never known a world without a Polish pope.

Copyright 2005, Chicago Tribune

 

 

 

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