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Sunday, April 03, 2005

The World Mourns the Pope

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul's body was laid in view of the world Sunday and his words echoed across St. Peter's Square as faithful mourned the Pole who helped topple Communism in Europe but left a riven Church.

Streams of pilgrims converged on Rome in a spontaneous outpouring of affection for the Pontiff, who died Saturday evening aged 84 in his Vatican bed after an extended struggle with ill health that slowly sapped his strength.

"He died with the serenity of the saints," Cardinal Angelo Sodano told a huge crowd assembled for a somber Requiem Mass. VATICAN SAYS POPE'S CAUSE OF DEATH WAS SEPTIC SHOCK AND CARDIO-CIRCULATORY COLLAPSE.

The Pope's corpse, clad in crimson and white vestments, was put on view for the world by Vatican TV. He lay on a bier under a simple crucifix with his bishop's staff under his arm.

Some 130,000 worshippers gathered at St. Peter's Square to hear the Pope's own words read out at the mass for the world's best known religious leader, who wielded political influence but failed in the eyes of critics to reform the Church.

John Paul's words resonated through the square when an archbishop read his text prepared for the Sunday after Easter.

"It is love which converts hearts and gives peace," the text said. Another message from the Pope was read out to 60,000 worshippers in Krakow, Poland, where Karol Wojtyla was archbishop before being elected pope in 1978.

News of his death set off one of the greatest influxes of pilgrims in Rome's memory — fitting tribute to a traveler who spent a lifetime meeting people around the globe.

"He has called us and we have come," said Giuseppe Incarnati, who rushed to the tiny Vatican City from Naples to be close to the deceased Pope who transformed the papacy by taking his message of reconciliation to all corners of the globe.


The Pope's death was announced to the press via an SMS text message sent out minutes after he expired — a symbol of how John Paul opened the papacy to the world outside the Vatican.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

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