Cardinals Maintain Silence Before Conclave
Apr 10, 3:16 PM (ET)
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pilgrims gazed forlornly at the third-floor window where Pope John Paul II traditionally appeared on Sundays and cardinals held to their vow of public silence ahead of next week's secret vote on a successor.
The cardinals who celebrated Masses around Rome confined their remarks to tightly scripted homilies after pledging Saturday to make no more public statements betraying their thinking before selecting a new leader for the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics.
Mourning pilgrims and curious tourists lined up in a pelting rain to visit St. Peter's Basilica, where John Paul was laid to rest Friday alongside the remains of other popes through the ages.
Throughout his 26-year pontificate, John Paul gave public audiences on Wednesdays and Sundays, greeting the faithful from his third-floor window overlooking the square.
His last public appearance was March 30, three days before he died at the age of 84, when he made a dramatic attempt to say a few words but managed only a raspy sound, his mouth open and his face contorted in pain.
"It's really sad to look up the window and know he won't be there anymore," said Melica Ventura, 25, of El Salvador.
Catholics around the world packed churches Sunday in tribute to John Paul.
Even the tiny church in reclusive communist North Korea - where the official state media was three days late to announce the pope's passing - held a Mass attended by about 100 faithful.
At the Vatican, the grotto deep beneath the basilica holding John Paul's body remained closed, and the Holy See was expected to say Monday when it would reopen. Keeping it shut was seen as a way to empty the Eternal City of the huge throngs of pilgrims who converged on the capital for the pope's funeral.
By Sunday, most appeared to have left, but there were still large knots of hangers-on, many from John Paul's native Poland. They read Polish newspapers and formed a long line outside a Polish confessional at St. Peter's, one of several that offer the faithful a chance to confess in various languages.
Poles also gathered for Sunday Mass at St. Stanislav, a Polish church in Rome, where they made "a connection of sorrow and also of hope for a better future," said Martin Kotas of Krakow, Poland.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the late pope's vicar for Rome, celebrated a late afternoon Mass for the pontiff at St. Peter's - a daily rite being held over nine official days of mourning for John Paul.
In his homily, Ruini praised John Paul for, among other things, being "a real man - one who tasted and appreciated the flavors of life to the full," including art, poetry, nature and sports.
As for the man who is to replace him, "let us not be uselessly and too humanly curious to know ahead of time who he will be," Ruini said. "Let us instead prepare to receive in prayer, trust and love he whom the Lord chooses to give us."
The lack of access to the red-robed "princes of the church" was unlikely to stem speculation about John Paul's successor, with worldwide interest peaking in what could be a tight competition between reformers and conservatives.
The 115 cardinals under 80 and therefore eligible to vote will begin meeting April 18 in the Sistine Chapel for the secret conclave to elect a new pope - a secret and ancient tradition.
There is only one official record of each conclave, and it lies in a sealed envelope in the papal archives. In "Universi Dominici Grecis," John Paul's 1996 rules governing the conclave, he wrote:
"At the end of the election the Cardinal Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church shall draw up a document, to be approved also by the three Cardinal Assistants, declaring the result of each voting session. This document is to be given to the Pope and will thereafter be kept in a designated archive, enclosed in a sealed envelope, which may be opened by no one unless the Supreme Pontiff gives explicit permission."
John Paul II gave the cardinal electors some advice in a 2002 poem in which he urged them to look at Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" fresco on the wall behind the altar in the chapel if they need inspiration.
"Michelangelo's vision must then speak to them," John Paul wrote in the poem, which he penned as part of a volume of poetic meditations published by the Vatican in 2003.
Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston, celebrated Mass in Rome's St. Mary Major Basilica, the church where John Paul appointed him archpriest. He did not give the homily - an apparent indication of how seriously the cardinals were taking the order for secrecy.
On Monday, Law will lead the next daily Mass for the pope at St. Peter's Basilica. Leaders of the advocacy group the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said Saturday they were flying to Rome to protest, saying Law's presence was painful to clergy sexual abuse victims and embarrassing to Catholics.
Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in December 2002 after unsealed court records revealed he had allowed priests guilty of abusing children to move among parish assignments and had not notified the public.
Vatican security, meanwhile, was preparing the Sistine Chapel for the papal election, taking undisclosed measures to thwart would-be hackers or electronic eavesdroppers from listening in on the cardinals' private deliberations and getting early word of who the next pope might be.
Hundreds of messages of thanks and remembrance were posted Sunday on "Karol the Great," an Italian Web site set up in tribute to John Paul. The pope's given name was Karol Wojtyla, and references to "John Paul the Great" have gained steam amid a growing movement to make him a saint.
"Bye, Pope John Paul, you will always be the greatest, even in heaven," read one.
"From St. Peter's Square, we won't see you anymore appearing at the window to greet us, but every time we look to the sky we know you'll be there to keep watch over us," said another.
Associated Press reporters Aidan Lewis, Daniela Petroff and Rachel Zoll in Rome contributed to this story.
Next Pope Must Escape John Paul's Shadow
Apr 10, 3:20 PM (ET)
By NIKO PRICE
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The next pope won't have it easy. He'll have to confront the spread of Islam and Protestant evangelism. He'll have to balance calls for social activism with demands to focus on traditional doctrine. He'll have to battle secularism in Europe and sex scandals in America.
But his biggest challenge was manufactured in the Vatican itself: He'll have to escape the shadow of one of the most beloved popes in history.
"I won't say I won't love the new pope, but it won't be the same," Francesca di Leonforte, a 23-year-old psychology student from the Sicilian town of Nissoria, said Sunday in St. Peter's Square. "We'll develop an affection for the new pope, but we'll never forget OUR pope."
John Paul II, buried Friday amid the greatest collection of mourners high and humble ever assembled, wrenched the papacy from the medieval walls of Vatican City and took it out into the world, becoming history's most traveled pope.
The media savvy pontiff also entered the homes of hundreds of millions of faithful on television and many developed a deep affection for the kindhearted old man with the uncanny charisma.
He sought out the young, the poor, the oppressed - and they responded. At his funeral, crowds pleaded with the church to declare him a saint.
The Polish-born pope also displayed a common touch and keen understanding of the power of symbolism, which inspired even those who sharply disagreed with him on issues of faith. Many people seemed to warm to the pope and regard him as genuinely holy even if they did not share his religious beliefs.
By any account, his will be a tough act to follow.
Next week, 115 cardinals will gather under the frescoed dome of the Sistine Chapel to decide who will take over where John Paul left off. In one of the most secretive traditions known to humanity, the red-robed "princes" of the church will cast ballot after ballot starting on April 18 until they choose a new leader.
When they are in agreement, the chosen one will say "Accepto," a puff of white smoke will emerge from the chimney, bells will toll and a cardinal will appear at the central window of St. Peter's Basilica to declare "Habemus papam" - "We have a pope."
From that moment, the church's new leader will be playing to a tough crowd.
"Whoever he is, it will be very difficult for him, because there will be such huge expectations. He will be continuously compared to his predecessor," said Maria Kornatowska, a 49-year old doctor attending Mass in Warsaw, Poland.
"The next one will have to work hard to prove he is worthy of being there, worthy of replacing John Paul II," Italo Ramos, 19, said at a coffee shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil. "Everybody knows it won't be easy to replace John Paul II. He was the perfect example of what a pope should be."
To be sure, not everyone adored John Paul. Many criticized his refusal to allow discussion of contraception and women in the priesthood. Many said he centralized Vatican control of the church too much. Many said he did too little, too late, to respond to sexual abuse by priests.
"I'd like to see someone who's more progressive in terms of sexuality, women's equality and social issues," said Alicia Mendoza, 39, who traveled from the Navarra region of northern Spain to join the crowds in St. Peter's Square.
But John Paul, who died April 2 at the age of 84, captured the world's affection like no other pope.
"He was unique. He was humble. He knew how to transmit love and hope with only a glance, a gesture, a smile," di Leonforte said. "He would walk by and you felt that he was looking just at you."
Around the world, people expressed doubt that the church would be able to find another man able to touch them in that way.
"It'll be hard. He was a very special person," said Adriana Gomez, 30, leaving a Mexico City church.
During Friday's funeral Mass, at least 300,000 people filled St. Peter's Square while millions more watched on video screens set up across Rome. Worldwide, tens of millions also followed the funeral rites in their homes, in overflowing churches and on giant television screens set up in fields, sports stadiums and town squares.
Funerals in the last century for Mohandas Gandhi of India, Mao Zedong of China and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran drew millions, too, but they lacked the presence of leaders from so many nations, with dignitaries from 138 countries in attendance.
"What John Paul II did while he was alive will be difficult to follow," said Wilfredo Celomine, 38, in the Philippines capital of Manila.
In St. Peter's Square, Stella Fuda agreed that "Saint" John Paul leaves some big shoes to fill. But the 52-year-old housewife from Crotone in southern Italy said she's confidant the church will find the right man.
"John Paul will pray from heaven," she said, "and send one as good as him."
Associated Press writers Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo; Teresa Cerojano in Manila; Ela Kasprzycka in Warsaw; and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report.