Vatican City, Apr 3, 2005 (CNA) - The body of Pope John Paul II lay in state Sunday at the Apostolic Palace as members of the Roman Curia, religious leaders and civil dignitaries paid their respects and offered prayers for the soul of the late pontiff, who died Saturday as a result of heart and kidney failure.
Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the chamberlain, presided at a celebration before the homage began. This was the first time the public was allowed to see the late Pope — clothed in red vestments and a white miter — since his last public appearance Wednesday.
Vatican Press Office director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced today that the late pontiff’s body would likely be transferred to St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 p.m. Monday for homage by all the faithful. The cardinals are expected to finalize this decision Monday morning.
Navarro-Valls told the press that the Vatican is following the procedures Pope John Paul II had outlined in Universi Dominici gregis regarding the death of a pontiff.
As indicated in the procedures, the chamberlain, the vice-chamberlain, the master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, the cleric prelates of the Apostolic Camera and the Pope's personal physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, went into the apartment of the pontiff and ascertained his death at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. An official death certificate was then prepared.
Vatican City, Apr 3, 2005 (CNA) - A message by Pope John Paul II for Divine Mercy Sunday, written prior to his death, was read today at the at the end of the first funeral mass celebrated for the pontiff.
Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read the text before the recitation of the Regina Coeli, which during the Easter season replaces the Angelus.
The feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, was dear to the pontiff, who instituted the feast day several years ago
"To all of mankind, who so often seems lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, the Risen Lord offers as a gift His love, which pardons, reconciles and opens the soul again to hope,” the Pope had written. “It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How the world needs to understand and welcome Divine Mercy!”
In his text, the Pope commented on the Gospel reading in which the Risen Christ appears to the Apostles and shows them His punctured hands and side. “Those glorious wounds that He made an incredulous Thomas touch eight days later reveal God's mercy who ‘so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son’,” the Pope’s text read.
"Lord, who with Your death and Resurrection revealed the Father's love, we believe in You and with trust we repeat today: Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy on us and on the entire world," the text continued.
"May the liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation, which we will celebrate tomorrow encourage us to contemplate with the eyes of Mary the immense mystery of this merciful love that bursts forth from the heart of Christ,” he concluded.
Vatican City, Apr 3, 2005 (CNA) - With more than 100,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Cardinal Angelo Sodano presided this Sunday at the first Mass for the repose of Pope John Paul II, who died on Saturday, April 2.
In his homily, the cardinal told the faithful, “The Pope died serenely.” “I was a witness to that serenity as a participant in the prayers for the Pope as he lay dying,” revealed Cardinal Sodano, adding that for him “serenity is the product of faith.”
Cardinal Sodano, who was Vatican Secretary of State up to the Pope’s death, recalled that the Church today celebrates Sunday “in albis,” the “Sunday of Divine Mercy,” a feast instituted by John Paul II himself several years ago.
Pointing out the in his life and preaching the Holy Father called believers to go beyond justice and perfect it in mercy, Cardinal Sodano said that, “John Paul the Great thus became the singer of the civilization of love, seeing in that expression one of the most beautiful definitions of the ‘Christian civilization’.”
“Yes, the Christian civilization is the civilization of love, in radical opposition to those civilizations of hate that were proposed by Nazism and Communism,” he added. The whole world has been “touched by a painful fact: our Father and Shepherd, John Paul II, has left us.” Nevertheless, said the cardinal, “for 26 years he has always invited us to look to Christ, the only reason for our hope.”
“For 26 years he has brought the Gospel of Christian hope to city squares all over the world, teaching everyone that our death is nothing more than the passage to our heavenly home. That is our eternal destiny, where God our Father awaits us.” “The Christian’s sorrow is transformed immediately into a closeness of profound serenity,” the cardinal said.
“To our unforgettable Holy Father we say, with the words of the Liturgy: ‘May the angels lead you to Paradise!’ May a rejoicing choir receive you and lead you to the Holy City, the Heavenly Jerusalem, because there you will have your eternal rest,” Cardinal Sodano concluded.
Denver, Colo., Apr 3, 2005 (CNA) - Joining his voice with the rest of the world in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said Saturday, that the Holy Father “embodied the greatest qualities of the Second Vatican Council.”
The archbishop said that the 84-year old Pope, who died peacefully in the Vatican late Saturday night, personified a “deep fidelity to Jesus Christ and His Gospel; profound confidence and joy in the Catholic faith; an openness to the good in the world; fraternal love for other Christians and the Jewish people; and a respect for all persons of good will.”
The Pope, the archbishop continued, “knew personal suffering throughout his life. He experienced the cost of war, genocide and political oppression firsthand. These things never dented his faith. They did the opposite. They led him more deeply into the heart of God.”
“He radiated hope in an age with so little of it. He was a true disciple of Jesus Christ; and in his love and service, he invited us to be the same, and ennobled us by his example.”
Recently, Archbishop Chaput said that the Pope’s visit to Denver in 1993 for World Youth Day was “a Transfiguration for the Church in Northern Colorado - a moment when Jesus smiled on us in a special, joyful, vivid way and invited us into his mission to the world.”
As speculation runs high as to who the next shepherd of the Church will be, the Archbishop said Saturday that, “God has always guided His Church, and God will send us the new pastor we need.”
“But”, he concluded, “Karol Wojtyla will be sorely missed for a very long time. In every sense, he was truly 'John Paul the Great'."