John Paul II, who led the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years and helped topple communism in Europe while becoming the most-traveled pope, died Saturday night in his Vatican apartment after a long public struggle against debilitating illness. He was 84.
Polish-born, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, held the throne of St. Peter for over 26 years, making his the third longest pontificate in papal history. The length of his papacy was surpassed only by those of Pius IX in the 19th century and St. Peter. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian elected Pope in over 450 years.
In Washington, President Bush mourned the loss of “a good and faithful servant of God (who) has been called home” and said the pontiff “launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history.”
For those of you too young to remember what happens next, NBC’s Keith Miller reports on the traditions of the church at the time of the passing of a pope.
Note: Compiled from wire reports
Video of President Bush’s press conference
Powerline catches The New York Times coverage, uh “in progress,” which is about as nice as you can put it.
Joe Gandelman writing at Dean’s World
Pope John Paul II at Mt. Nebo overlooking the Promised Land [Picture]