Cuban President Fidel Castro sent the Vatican his government’s “heartfelt” condolences for the death of Pope John Paul II after decreeing three days of official mourning and suspending baseball games and other festivities.
Catholic Church officials were surprised by the extent of the measures to mourn the Pope and hoped they were a sign of improved relations with Cuba’s Communist government.
“Humanity will keep an emotional memory of His Holiness John Paul II’s tireless work for peace, justice and solidarity between all peoples,” Castro said in a letter that was the top story in the official media on Sunday.
Tony Blair is delaying the announcement of new elections out of respect for the Pope. But Prince Charles — who you’d think would be more respectful, considering he and the Pope both draw their power from ancient “divine right” traditions — has no such compunction: he’s going ahead with his wedding on Friday, even if the Pope’s funeral is on the same day.
The leader of the leading political party in Northern Ireland, on its official website, joins other world leaders of all faiths in offering his own generous commemoration of the life & legacy of John Paul II:
â€œWe need to learn that everyone on earth no matter what position he holds or the claims he makes or the support he has must come to death and eternity. All of us will stand before God. The Bible says â€˜It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgement.â€™ The only way we can prepare for death and eternity is through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and His finished work on the cross at Calvary, which culminated in His bodily resurrection from the tomb and His ascension to Godâ€™s right hand in Heaven.
“We can understand how Roman Catholics feel at the death of the Pope and we would want in no way to interfere with their expression of sorrow and grief at this time.”
Certainly Doctor Paisley’s moving statement of mourning & admiration, so nobly rising above all petty sectarian differences, demonstrates his philosophical Growth over the years ~ since, e.g., 1988, when according to a Reuters article posted on his own Theological website ~
…Paisley, the leader of Northern Ireland’s protestant Democratic Unionist Party, shouted “Anti-Christ!” as the Pope began a speech to the European Parliament on unity in Europe.
Members of parliament shouted to drown out his insults, threw paper at him and tore a crude orange banner from his hands that read: “Pope John Paul II, anti-Christ”.
The Pontiff smiled briefly at the outburst and resumed his speech, which was again interrupted, this time by a round of applause.
Paisley was wrestled out of the European Parliament chamber.
Let us pray that the 78-year-old Pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church will, long years hence, have the opportunity to pay his homage personally to His Holiness, when Paisley’s soul joins the Pope’s in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Let us pray very, very, very hard.
Here’s the New York Times front page:
And here are some others, from various locales of interest to BrendanLoy.com readers, via the Newseum:
Several hundred turned out for a candlelight rosary service in memory of Pope John Paul II at Notre Dame’s Grotto earlier tonight.
More photos here.
There will be another rosary service at the Basillica on Monday at 4:45 PM, followed by a memorial mass for the Holy Father at 5:30 PM.
Reminder: There will be a Candlelight Rosary Prayer Service at the Grotto tonight at 7:45 PM.
UPDATE: The Pope died at 2:37 PM Eastern time, according to the Vatican.
President Bush will make a statement at 4:00 PM.
UPDATE 2: Ann Althouse: “I’m not Catholic. Still, I greatly admire the man. Hearing the news stories about him today and yesterday, I wondered if it was not the case that he was the greatest human being to have lived during my own lifetime. The world is a poorer place.”
AP story here on the Pontiff’s passing.
I just got a breaking news alert on my cell phone, I believe from the BBC, stating that the Pope has died.This message will expire on June 1, 2005
The Pope’s death has now been “imminent” for well over 36 hours. If this keeps up, we’ll be getting into Francisco Franco territory pretty soon. :)
The 24-hour cable news networks are rapidly running out of things to say about the Pope. In fact, I think they ran out of things to say after about two hours. In my observation of the coverage, it appears there are five basic questions/topics of discussion that are essentially repeated ad infinitum to fill time:
And that’s about it. Those questions get repeated over and over and over again, with new interviewers and new interviewees, but really nothing new to say.
I’m not saying that I wish for the Pope’s death, obviously. But if this endless, breathless media vigil — the Pope Death Watch, for lack of a better phrase — goes on for much longer, it’s really going to become agonizing to watch.
P.S. On the bright side, I think it’s really a blessing for Terri Schiavo’s family — both factions — that something, anything, has come along during their time of private grief to distract the media. I’m sure it’s still a circus down in Florida, but it’s got to be at least a little bit less intense now that the 24-hour news media apparatus has switched its primary focus from all-Terri-all-the-time to all-John-Paul-all-the-time. Perhaps that small blessing for the grieving Schindlers and Schiavos was a part of God’s plan.
P.P.S. Becky and I are going out for a few hours, so if the Pope dies while we’re gone, the news will have to be posted either by a guestblogger or by the CNN Breaking News alert. We’ll be back by 6:00, though, since that’s when the Final Four starts…
The Vatican’s long-delayed update on the Pope’s condition is finally out, and it contains no really big news: “Still very grave… with a high fever… and very serious,” according to CNN-TV.
UPDATE: And he is “responding correctly when addressed by members of his household.”
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the fact that he has a high fever means he the antibiotics aren’t working. But he also that it’s somewhat surprising, at this stage of septic shock, that the Pope would still be “responding correctly” to his aides.
UPDATE 2: Here is the full text of the statement, according to my quick transcribing of a CNN reporter’s fast reading:
The clinical conditions of the Holy Father remain very serious. In the late morning, a high fever developed. When addressed by the members of his household, he is responding correctly.
Last night, John Paul II, struggling to speak, reportedly said — as if speaking to the crowd outside — “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you.”
The Pope is slipping in and out of consciousness, and his condition continues to worsen, according to a Vatican update around 4:00 AM this morning. Another update is expected within a half-hour or so.
UPDATE: The update is a bit delayed, but it is still exepected soon.
UPDATE, 11:36 AM: “We are now getting word from the Vatican that this statement may not be imminent after all.” –CNN
UPDATE, 11:40 AM: Now they’re saying there will be a written statement in 30 minutes.
A professional soccer game in Poznan, Poland was stopped at halftime yesterday when people in the crowd, having received text messages informing them of the Pope’s gravely ill condition, began chanting “Stop the match!”
The crowd and the players then began singing the Polish national anthem, according to CNN.
A Romanian TV station is reporting that there will be an announcement from the Vatican at 3:00 AM Eastern time, according to MSNBC. There is no independent confirmation of this report.
If there is an announcement, it’s unclear what will be, or who will make it. But it looks like I may not be going to bed just yet…
UPDATE: “It appears that no statement is forthcoming.” –Jon Siegenthaler, MSNBC.
Notre Dame will hold a Candlelight Rosary Prayer Service in honor of — or perhaps, by then, in memory of — Pope John Paul II tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7:45 PM at the Grotto.
I went down to the Grotto this evening, to check out the scene and say a prayer myself. The crowd was relatively small — perhaps a dozen people, if that — and of course, the contents of their thoughts and prayers are between them and God. But somehow I doubt I was the only one who said a prayer for the Pope.
I took a few pictures (from a respectful distance, and without flash, of course). You can see them above and below, and also here.
I also stepped briefly into the Basillica, and noticed a picture of the Pontiff, surrounded by several baskets of flowers, on the altar. Apparently it was put up late Friday afternoon.
The AP is now reporting that the Vatican denies reports that the Pope has died, according to CNN.
Miles O’Brien says John Paul II is “clinging, ever so precariously, to life.” He adds: “The Vatican, while denying the reports of the Pope’s passing, says there is no hope for his recovery.”
Thousands have gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and Cardinal Ruini is about to lead them in prayer.
Ruini is the vicar for the Pope, and it is his responsibility to make the official announcement that John Paul II has died, when that time comes. But he is not expected to make an announcement of any kind right now — just to lead prayers.
Drudge is also now referencing the AP report, and he has removed the headline “REPORT: POPE DIES IN ROME” from his homepage. Here are a couple of screenshots:
UPDATE: “Tonight, Christ opens his doors to John Paul II.” –person leading prayers in St. Peter’s Square (according to CNN translation)