Life of John Paul II

Pope Laid to Rest as World Mourns

 

Vatican Crowd Hails John Paul II With Rallying Cry for Sainthood

By Alan Cooperman and Daniel Williams

Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page A01

VATICAN CITY, April 8 -- Before they carried Pope John Paul II through the Door of the Dead to his burial place in St. Peter's Basilica, the 12 Vatican pallbearers slowly turned his cypress coffin so he would face his flock one last time.

The 300,000 or more mourners on St. Peter's Square on Friday morning -- a kneeling, standing, tearful and radiant throng of Croatian students, Filipina nuns, American teenagers and other pilgrims from countless countries -- momentarily froze. Then came the cries from throughout the crowd: Giovanni Paolo! Santo Subito! John Paul! Sainthood at once!


A Greek Catholic prelate burns incense over the coffin of Pope John Paul II as other Eastern Rite bishops offer prayers toward the end of the funeral Mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. (Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)


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MOURNING | LIFE | SUCCESSION

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_____Week of Mourning_____

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BasilicaPhoto Gallery:
Thousands of people at the Vatican, along with millions worldwide pay their final respects.
Video: Pope's Funeral Mass
Interactive: Services Explained
Guest List: Foreign Dignitaries
Video: D.C. Students Reflect
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_____Electing a New Pope_____

spacer
BasilicaThe Process:
This graphic explains the process of electing a pope and highlights possible successors.
Post Profiles: The Next Pope?
spacer

_____Life of the Pope_____

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Narrated Gallery: Photos from the life of John Paul II, narrated by The Post's Alan Cooperman.
Obituary: Church Loses Its Light
Text: Last Will and Testament

 


_____Religion News_____

Catholics Divided On Role Of Laity (The Washington Post, Apr 10, 2005)
Cardinals Begin Period of Media Silence (The Washington Post, Apr 10, 2005)
In Owings, a Heartfelt Tribute to Pope John Paul II (The Washington Post, Apr 10, 2005)
More Religion Stories

 

 

_____Free E-mail Newsletters_____

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In the stillness within St. Peter's, beyond the reach of television cameras and away from the cacophony on the square, scores of scarlet-robed cardinals formed an honor guard, lining both sides of the aisle leading to the entrance to the crypt. A handful of the pope's closest colleagues accompanied the coffin. The rest of the cardinals doffed their zucchetti, or skullcaps, in tribute.

"It was total silence," said Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. "After the Holy Father had passed by and everybody left and were out of sight, we turned to go back and take off our vestments, and no one said a word. Not a word."

So went the last minutes of John Paul's funeral Friday: sadness and anticipation, silence and cheers. John Paul, the pontiff who became a global phenomenon, received a hero's send-off from the healthy and the lame, the privileged and the poor before being lowered privately into a simple grave beneath the basilica.

Even after his coffin had disappeared, the crowd was unwilling to let go: The mourners remained outside and applauded for 10 minutes. The knell of the basilica's 10-ton bell was followed by chimes from steeples throughout Rome. Hundreds of thousands of other mourners watched the funeral Mass on television screens at parks, plazas and fields in and around the city. Millions more watched from around the world.

The enormous number of mourners emphasized a challenge for the next pope: how to match John Paul's appeal and visibility. He reigned over the world's Roman Catholics, now numbering 1.1 billion, for 26 years. He traveled to 129 countries outside Italy and spent about one of every 10 days of his papacy on the road. He helped inspire peaceful revolts against Soviet domination in Eastern Europe; gratitude was evidenced by the scores of red-and-white flags of Poland, his homeland, that flapped on the square. He also chastised the West with a steady barrage of pronouncements against abortion and contraception, materialism and consumerism, homosexuality and war.

This week, commentators here and abroad praised John Paul's efforts. Yet the church and its leaders face many serious problems that deepened during his years in office.

In recent months, Vatican officials have lamented that Europe has grown ever more secular, that finding recruits for the priesthood has become increasingly difficult, that the faithful in Latin America are drifting toward Protestant churches and that the voice of the church has not been heeded on matters of war and peace.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who presided over the Mass, had the delicate task of eulogizing John Paul while also pinpointing work that remained unfinished. His sermon was the first of several by top prelates due to be delivered each day until April 18, when the cardinals will convene a conclave to elect a new pope. Few words will be more closely heeded than Ratzinger's. He was the Vatican's official guardian of church doctrine and discipline, and a close collaborator of the pope. He is now a leading papal candidate. His homily was, in effect, the conclave's keynote address.

In the middle of the sermon, delivered in Italian, Ratzinger recalled the title of a recent book written by John Paul: "Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way."

"With these words," Ratzinger declared, "he roused us from a lethargic faith." The crisis of faith has been a consistent theme of Ratzinger's public statements and calls for church renewal. Ratzinger also noted that John Paul had sacrificed a comfortable life as parish priest to become auxiliary bishop of Krakow.

In Ratzinger's eyes, this is a parable of sacrifice that stands in contrast to calls by some Catholics that priests should be allowed to lead normal, married lives. Ratzinger said of John Paul: "He realized how true are the Lord's words: Those who try to make their life secure lose it."

The mourners clapped.

And noting the ailing pope's appearance at his apartment window on Easter to bless the crowd below, Ratzinger said: "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."

The funeral began when the pallbearers brought the simple wooden coffin out of the basilica. A cross and the letter M, for Mary, were laminated on the lid, and a papal aide placed a volume of the Gospels open on top, allowing the pages to blow symbolically in the wind. A chorus chanted in Latin: "Lord, grant him eternal rest."


A Greek Catholic prelate burns incense over the coffin of Pope John Paul II as other Eastern Rite bishops offer prayers toward the end of the funeral Mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. (Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)


spacer

MOURNING | LIFE | SUCCESSION

spacer

_____Week of Mourning_____

spacer
BasilicaPhoto Gallery:
Thousands of people at the Vatican, along with millions worldwide pay their final respects.
Video: Pope's Funeral Mass
Interactive: Services Explained
Guest List: Foreign Dignitaries
Video: D.C. Students Reflect
spacer

_____Electing a New Pope_____

spacer
BasilicaThe Process:
This graphic explains the process of electing a pope and highlights possible successors.
Post Profiles: The Next Pope?
spacer

_____Life of the Pope_____

spacer
Narrated Gallery: Photos from the life of John Paul II, narrated by The Post's Alan Cooperman.
Obituary: Church Loses Its Light
Text: Last Will and Testament

 


_____Religion News_____

Catholics Divided On Role Of Laity (The Washington Post, Apr 10, 2005)
Cardinals Begin Period of Media Silence (The Washington Post, Apr 10, 2005)
In Owings, a Heartfelt Tribute to Pope John Paul II (The Washington Post, Apr 10, 2005)
More Religion Stories

 

 

_____Free E-mail Newsletters_____

 Today's Headlines & Columnists
See a Sample  |  Sign Up Now
 Breaking News Alerts
See a Sample  |  Sign Up Now

 

About 160 cardinals, of whom 117 are younger than 80 and therefore eligible to help elect the next pope, sat to the left of the coffin, as seen from the square. World leaders, mostly in dark suits, sat to the right.

The homage to John Paul brought together politicians who otherwise might never dream of being in the same pew. President Bush sat not far from President Mohammad Khatami of Iran. Syrian President Bashar Assad sat behind Israeli President Moshe Katsav, and they shook hands.

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe rubbed shoulders with European Union leaders who have banned him from traveling to their countries. (Italy allowed him to land because he was on his way to the Vatican, a sovereign city-state that is not part of the E.U.) Britain's Prince Charles shook hands with him.

The fervor among those in the crowd was evident. Many were veterans of the arduous line to view John Paul's body inside the basilica, where it had been on display since Monday afternoon. Banners praised John Paul as "Our angel." Church groups waved colorful handkerchiefs, and many were clustered under their national flags.

When the outdoor rites were over, Elena Sardu blew kisses toward the basilica's big bronze doors as the coffin was carried inside. "I feel an emptiness, an uncertainty," she said. Sardu and her family had waited in line from about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday until 3 a.m. Thursday to pass by the pope's body. Her husband came close to taking their three children home. But "they all said they wanted to stay and see him," Sardu said.

Sardu, 33, said she, her husband and their children, Mattia, 12, and twins Martina and Vanessa, 7, had been blessed -- touched on the head -- by the pope seven years ago when he visited their neighborhood church in Rome. "It was so emotional, indescribable," she said. "He touched my heart. I don't see how anyone can take his place." Near the end of the funeral, her children helped raise a sign that read: "Giovanni Paolo II, you'll always be in our hearts."

In the early morning, pilgrims and Romans strolled toward St. Peter's; automobile traffic was prohibited along many streets until 6 p.m. Police eyed the crowd as civilian volunteers handed out water and ensured that pedestrians did not leap over metal barricades. Helicopters hovered overhead, adding to the aura of watchfulness.

Many in the throng were young -- the kind of crowd John Paul liked to attract. They had mixed views of his legacy.

Silvia Briga, 27, a product manager from Milan who meets weekly with young people to discuss religion, traveled by train Thursday night and reached Rome about 6 a.m. She and her friends clapped each time Ratzinger repeated the words "Follow me," a phrase the Bible says Jesus spoke to Saint Peter.

At the ancient chariot stadium Circus Maximus, where camping pilgrims watched the proceedings on a giant TV screen, Bret Federigan, 28, a high school teacher from McLean, offered a somewhat critical view.

"I went to a Catholic school. I love the pope as a figure and a world leader," he said. "The pope is important for what he's done for the 20th century. But he is too conservative for the good of people -- for example, contraception and AIDS. His position runs against popular sentiment."

Tanja Sladic, 25, arrived from Zagreb on one of 10 buses chartered by a Croatian newspaper. She said she was "only moderately religious" but had been enamored of John Paul ever since she learned that he had forgiven the man who shot him in 1981.

After the Mass, the pope's coffin was lowered by pulley into the ground in a plot inside a small chapel, between the tombs of Queen Christina of Sweden and Queen Carlotta of Cyprus. The cypress coffin had been encased in a zinc one and then placed in another made of walnut.

Vatican officials said Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the church's camerlengo, or temporary caretaker, performed the closed service and concluded it with the same words that opened the funeral: "Lord, grant him eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon him."

Special correspondents Sarah Delaney and William Magnuson contributed to this report.