Vatican City, Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II's funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Peter’s Square Friday at 10 a.m., Rome time, the Vatican has announced.
His body will lie in state in St Peter's Basilica from Monday evening until Friday morning. The church will stay open late into the night, closing only between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. for maintenance.
In the next four days, an estimated two million pilgrims are expected to pay their last respects to the third-longest reigning pontiff, who died April 2 at the age of 84.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside at the open-air funeral mass. Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend.
John Paul II will be buried in the crypt beneath St Peter's Basilica immediately following the funeral, the Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.
The Pope had not stated any wishes about his burial place, and the Vatican would therefore "follow tradition" by burying him in the crypt, Navarro-Valls said.
The announcement came after 65 cardinals met for a two-and-a-half-hour meeting this morning the Apostolic Palace to read the Pope's will and fix the funeral date. The remaining 42 cardinals, who will attend the conclave and elect the 265th successor to the Chair of Peter, are still traveling to Rome.
Signs of the Church in mourning were everywhere in St. Peter's Square Monday morning. The Vatican's Swiss Guards, who normally wear brightly colored uniforms, wore black cloaks, and the lampposts were covered with flowers, handwritten messages and children's drawings.
The body of Pope John Paul II lay in state yesterday at the Apostolic Palace for Vatican officials and dignitaries to pay their last respects.
Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - U.S. President George Bush was among a throng of world leaders who have been praising the life and memory of Pope John Paul II who died peacefully at the Vatican on Saturday evening.
The president, who has met with the Holy Father on three different occasions said Saturday that, “Laura and I join people across the Earth in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.”
“Pope John Paul II”, he continued, “left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it -- as a witness to the dignity of human life.”
Pope John Paul II was, himself, an inspiration to millions of Americans, and to so many more throughout the world. We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages.”
Lech Walensa, leader of Poland’s solidarity movement, which the Pope himself helped inspire, said that, “(Without him) there would be no end of communism or at least much later and the end would have been bloody.”
United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, called the Pope a “tireless advocate of peace”, while German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose own country was long held under the oppressive forces of communism, said that, "Pope John Paul II wrote history.
By his efforts and through his impressive personality, he changed our world."
Israel’s President Moshe Katsav said that, "The pope ... bravely put an end to historic injustice by officially rejecting prejudices and accusations against Jews."
Many suggest that John Paul did more to further relations between Jews and Christians than any other pope.
Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - A number of pro-life groups are paying tribute to Pope John Paul II, who spent his nearly 26 years as the leader of the Catholic Church defending and promoting the sanctity of life and human rights.
"His passion brought leadership on many cultural issues, including traditional marriage and the protection of unborn children. He also took a strong stance against embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
The Pope, he continued, “must be recognized for his prolific writings … and his outspoken affirmation of life that we enjoy from our Creator, from conception to natural death.”
“With the loss of this amazing figure the world is missing one of the greatest men of our time,” Perkins stated in his press release. "I only have admiration for this godly man who championed freedom and peace, human life, and prayer. He will be missed.”
Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, referred to Pope John Paul as the “Pope of Life.”
In a statement, he said the teachings of the late Pope on the sanctity of life, and especially on the unborn, “will continue to stir our consciences to build a culture of life" and guide the Church for centuries.
Christian Coalition of America described the Pope as “a great champion of the unborn and the disabled.” It noted that just last month, Pope John Paul II urged Catholics around the world to defend the sanctity of human life after declaring a pro-life day in Italy.
The coalition also noted that the Pope and the Catholic Church supported efforts to save the life of Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old disabled and brain-damaged woman in Florida who died 13 days after her feeding tube was removed. The Church had called the efforts to kill her by removing her feeding tube ‘euthanasia by omission.’”
Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, in a reflection on Schiavo’s death last week, cited Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae, saying: “The words of our Pope, who knows how to suffer, gives us much food for thought.”
“We pray for Terri's soul; but, we also must pray for our own souls as we confront how we accept the mystery of death, our own and that of our loved ones,” the bishop stated.
Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II deep commitment to charity and justice was “a source of inspiration, affirmation, love, and hope for all of us in the Catholic Charities network,” said Fr. Larry Snyder in a statement released after the 84-year-old pontiff died Saturday.
Pope John Paul “enriched and challenged us by forceful advocacy on behalf of the world’s oppressed and poor, the sacredness of family and human life, the God-given dignity of the human person, the solidarity of the human family, and, the rights of working men and women,” said the president of Catholic Charities USA.
Fr. Snyder recalled the visit the Pope made to Catholic Charities’ annual conference in San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 13, 1987.
“Gather, transform, and serve!” the pontiff urged that day. “When done in the name of Jesus Christ this is the spirit of Catholic Charities and all who work for this cause, because it is the faithful following of the one who did not come to be served but to serve,” he proclaimed.
“Throughout his papacy, Pope John Paul II called on us all to come together as a Church and a society to work for compassion and justice for those living in poverty and suffering from oppression.”
Fr. Snyder pledged that Catholic Charities would “continue to heed [the Pope’s] call and live out his legacy through our services.”
, Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II was, and always will be, “a role model for the world,” said Catholic League president William Donohue in a statement released one day after the Pope’s death.
The Pope, said Donohue, will be remembered for many things, one of which is his signature statement, “Be not afraid.”
John Paul II made this statement in his first homily as Pope in 1978 and repeated it thousands of times during his papacy, Donohue pointed out. It was a phrase he often repeated to his audiences with young people as well.
“Consider what happened after he told millions of his fellow countrymen in Poland one year later, ‘Do not be afraid to tell the truth,’” Donohue continued.
The president of the Catholic League predicted that the late Pope’s commitment to truth would be one of “his most enduring legacies.”
“In a world where moral relativism runs rampant, and the lies of postmodernist thought are trumpeted, nothing could be more counter cultural than the Pope’s speeches and writings on the existence of an objective moral order. His courage, along with his intellectual acumen, was astounding,” Donohue wrote.
Given the way the Pope managed to reach out to millions of people, including members of the world’s religions, “it is only fitting that someday he will be known as John Paul the Great,” which would make him the third pontiff to receive the honorific title, Donohue said.
Harrisburg, Pa., Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - The life and leadership of Pope John Paul II were inspiring, even in the physical weakness of his later years, said Pennsylvania Catholic Conference executive director Dr. Robert J. O’Hara, Jr.
In a statement, O’Hara said the Pope’s “clear and unambiguous teaching and his tireless commitment to the weakest among us — the poor, the elderly, the sick, and the unborn — not only provided guidance to conferences such as ours, but over the course of his pontificate, created public dialogue on issues of fundamental importance.”
"We, like so many others, will miss him and now, as always, will remember him in our prayers," he stated.
Montreal, Canada, Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II “ignited joy and a determination to persevere, no matter the challenges, because of his belief that the dignity of human life is united with the mystery of eternal life,” said Archbishop Brendan O’Brien April 2.
The archbishop of St. John’s, Newfoundland, read the official statement of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to a crowd of 1,200, who attended a mass for the Pope at Montreal’s Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, less than three hours after the Pope’s passing.
The statement expressed the nation’s sadness at Pope John Paul’s death but also its gratitude to the 84-year-old pontiff who died Saturday after leading the Church for nearly 26 years.
“Catholics in our land hold deep affection for this successor of Peter who served the See of Rome and the universal Church for 26 years as an extraordinary spiritual guide and a remarkable bishop,” said the president of the CCCB.
Pope John Paul II had visited Canada three times: first in 1984, again three years later, and finally in 2002 for World Youth Day in Toronto.
“The image of the suffering shepherd, bravely descending from the papal aircraft unassisted in Toronto to greet the young people of the world, moved not only the young and Catholics but all people of goodwill,” Archbishop O’Brien recalled.
“Attentive to and inspired by his many important texts and encyclicals, the Church in Canada responded with particular enthusiasm to the image that he used in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte of ‘launching out into the deep’ to face the challenges of the new millennium,” he added.
“Through both word and example he taught the strength of faith, the power of prayer, the need to forgive, and the imperative of serving the poor and oppressed of the world. His teachings will continue to guide the Church in the years ahead in its mission of proclaiming the Reign of God,” he continued.
Canadian Catholics are thankful to God “for the years of service that this holy priest and bishop dedicated to proclaiming Jesus Christ in every corner of the world.”
Denver, Colo., Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - Hundreds of faithful gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver overflowed onto Colfax Ave. last evening as they joined millions around the world in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, during his homily at yesterday’s packed and tear-filled Divine Mercy Sunday Mass said that, “a man like John Paul II comes maybe once in a century.”
“God”, he continued, “put him into a century that had forgotten how to be human….But despite the suffering he saw, [John Paul] radiated hope.”
“For us”, the Archbishop said, “he was a father, a pastor, a man who loved people with a warmth and compassion…that many of us knew personally from his visit in 1993.”
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.”
The archbishop reflected on the significance of the Holy Father’s death falling on the eve of the feast of Divine Mercy—a feast, which the Pope had personally instituted and had a great devotion to.
“I don’t think God called him home on this day by accident”, the archbishop said. “He did it as a gift both to him and to us.”
25-year old Jacob Welp, was among those who had gathered to remember the Pope. He told CNA that he feels as though he has “lost a father in the spiritual life.”
“As I grew closer to Jesus”, he said, “I became more inspired by John Paul II.”
“I started to realize tonight that, with his death, he’ll have a whole new role in my meditation…of fatherly encouragement in prayer.”
The archbishop added: “We mourn, but Jesus assures us that ‘blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’…The words of Jesus--‘I am the resurrection and the life’--these are what should comfort us.”
As cardinals from around the world begin arriving in Rome to face the challenge of electing a new pope, throngs of faithful have been filling St. Peter’s Square to mourn the 84-year old pontiff who held the Chair of Peter for some 26 years.
Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 4, 2005 (CNA) - Emily Stimpson, a graduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, was 25 when she first read Karol Wojtyla (who would soon to be Pope John Paul II)’s book, ‘Love and Responsibility.’
“Through his eyes,” she says, “I saw for the first time just how precious and how miraculous each human life is. I also came to understand my own dignity, not just as a person, but as a woman. John Paul II opened my eyes to a world of beauty and truth that I never knew existed.”
Known for his tremendous love for young people, many in the U.S. are remembering Pope John Paul II, who died Saturday at the Vatican, for the profound strides he made in reaching out to the youth of the Church.
Fr. Michael Scanlon T.O.R., chancellor of Ohio’s Franciscan University of Steubenville, said that he credits the pope’s proclamation of the “New Evangelization” as one of the key inspirations for the University’s development over the years.
"The most important occasion for the University”, Fr. Scanlon said, “was when I presented him with an honorary doctoral degree as well as a spiritual bouquet from hundreds of our students…The pope read each student's name and kept repeating, 'Ahh, the students, good.' Subsequently on very many occasions he mentioned Franciscan University to people, saying, 'Ahhh, a good university.'"
John Peirick, a junior theology major at Franciscan University said that, "I still have sorrow that this pope who is the model of my faith and the only pope I've ever known has died, but there's a sense of joy. The Church is gaining a new great saint, and he is no longer suffering but passing on to his next great adventure of living in the glory of God."
Jennifer Swanson, spokesperson for the international Catholic youth ministry, Life Teen, said Saturday that, “John Paul II's dedication to the youth of the world has revitalized the face of the Catholic Church. Life Teen, Inc. is grateful to the contributions made by the Holy Father during his time as Pope, including his commitment to World Youth Days.”
Life Teen said that earlier in the year, they produced a music video for teens around the world “honoring the life and holy example of the Pontiff, based on a rap song, Giovanni Paolo, written by Tom Booth, accompanied by Fr. Stan Fortuna.”
“The video”, Swanson said, “serves not just as a biography, but as a tribute to the Pontiff's courageous life.”
Barbara Morgan, a theology professor at Franciscan University added that she thinks John Paul would be saying, 'Don't be afraid of me not being here, and don't be afraid of what is happening in the world.”
“In Toronto, at World Youth Day 2002, he chronicled for the young people 80 years of dark things: Nazism, communism, terrorism. Yet he went on to say that there is nothing that can crush the hope that the Holy Spirit gives…That was coming from a man who was arrested by the Nazis and came within a hair's-breadth of going to a concentration camp.”
Added Stimpson: “He had the mind of a genius, the soul of a saint, and the heart of a poet. There is more loveliness in the world because he lived in it.”