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Millions Gather in Rome for Papal Funeral

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Royalty, political power brokers and multitudes of the faithful will pay their last respects to Pope John Paul II on Friday at a funeral promising to be one of the largest Western religious gatherings of modern times.

Throngs of pilgrims - an estimated 2 million since the pope's body went on public view Monday - had filed past the pope's bier in St. Peter's Basilica before its towering bronze doors were closed late Thursday. Some 4 million people have flooded into the Italian capital to be nearer the pope before his funeral and burial in the Vatican grotto Friday.

Coverage on all the major networks begins at 4:00AM Eastern/1:00AM Pacific, so TiVo might be your best bet. The funeral promises to be one of the most widely viewed events in the history.

Reporter Recalls Moments on Papal Travels [AP]

Text of the Homily at Pope's Funeral [AP]

Comments (5)

To me, it is something of a... (Below threshold)

To me, it is something of a marvel that three of the great world teachers were alive at the same point in history: Confucius, Buddha, and Socrates. At the beginning of our own country, it is a marvel that so many great minds came together to implement a new philosophy of government, one emulated by the world that has brought the twin benefits of freedom and prosperity to mankind.

I find it similarly lucky for humanity that Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Maggie Thatcher found themselves together in history, teaming up to defeat the 2nd great menace of the 20th century, the scourge of communism. They were all elected within a year of each other, and now two have passed within the year while the 3rd grows frail. How lucky for humanity that they each shared a common vision of freedom, and had the courage of their convictions to see it through, AND that their paths crossed at this one important moment in history. And while Reagan & Thatcher commanded armies in reserve, John Paul had only the strength of his own character and words. The truth will set you free.

The Pope carried out this aim with love, firmness, and Reason. For what this one man accomplished, the world owes him more than simple words can express. His own words upon assuming the Papal throne can speak for themselves:

“Be Not Afraid! Open up, no; swing wide the gates to Christ. Open up to his saving power the confines of the State, open up economic and political systems, the vast empires of culture, civilization and development. Be not afraid!”

His spiritual meaning to individual Catholics is of course a personal matter, and unfortunately often diminished in this country by the liberal movement within the church. But that is this country, and in Europe, but it is NOT elsewhere in the world. Pope John Paul II’s guidance has made Roman Catholicism the most rapidly spreading faith system in the world, now sporting 1 billion followers and booming in the 3rd world. Again, this is the power of words and hope among mainly disadvantaged people.

Certainly the remarkable way he reached out to other faith systems marked a delineation between himself and his predecessors. His example has begun to soothe centuries of animosity between Catholics and Jews, Catholics and Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, etc. Christ’s love is for all mankind.
And there he was embracing and forgiving the repenting sinner who earlier tried to assassinate him. Just another powerful example for all to personally emulate, just as Christ taught us to do.

L:ike Confucius, Buddha, and Socrates, John Paul II was an army of one, with his mind as primary weapon to move others to his side. Rest in Peace, and thank you for making the world a better place.

And here I am this morning,... (Below threshold)

And here I am this morning, complete with my human suffering and focus, wondering as I watched and participated in the Funeral Mass for Pope John Paul, just what the world will be like without him among us as living leader, representative.

I realize that that indicates a dip in my faith -- not really, it is only an indication of my grief. Just as Pope John Paul appeared as he did at the right time for all the right reasons, there will be another Pope soon and for equally right reasons.

A wonderful, amazing man, Pope John Paul II. Truly a saint among us, and still.

Amen.... (Below threshold)


-S-John Paull II and... (Below threshold)

John Paull II and Ronald Reagan are two individuals in my life time who believed in the inherent goodness of men and mankind. What the world is like when they are gone depends on our own strength in incorporating their message in our daily lives. I guess that's the hard part.

I set my alarm for 3 am ET ... (Below threshold)

I set my alarm for 3 am ET so I could watch the whole thing. I actually found the funeral a wee bit boring but I would not missed it for the world. He was buried in 3 coffins; this wood one, then the gorgeous brown fancy coffin, then into the cement crypt. I wish they had used the really fancy one because it was so beautiful. Most people would think that put together wooden one isn't good enough for the Pope but if was the first layer.







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