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Music, Celebration Wrap Solemn Mass

Aired October 16, 2003 - 13:49   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well from one legend to another, the pope. Marking 25 years in probably one of the toughest jobs in the entire world. He's blessing all the nations right now.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this comes at the conclusion of an historic mass there at the Vatican and St. Peter's square. CNN's Paula Zahn has been there for all of this. Paula, I'm truly very jealous of your perch right now. What a wonderful opportunity to see a real spectacle of history.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, as we -- good evening, miles. As we discussed earlier, I don't think there's any place else in the world where you will see this kind of pageantry and certainly a sense of history as the pope marks his 25th anniversary as pope.

And as the mass winds up here, I wanted to quickly check in with Jim Bittermann who is down at St. Peter's square who probably has the best perspective on how the thousands of pilgrims and other folks who have come the ceremony are reacting to what they've heard tonight from the pope and his many followers -- Jim.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Paula, i think it's been almost a solemn occassion. It's very interesting while this is a celebration, of course, the 25th anniversary of the pope's reign, the fact is, it's -- also, when you see the pope out, the condition he's in these days, it's so sad, in comparison to, perhaps, his younger days, when he was much more active.

So I think people -- it's kind of bittersweet, perhaps, the feeling that they have, as they watch this pope in his declining years. Certainly, though, they actively stood here, through the very end. It's kind of a chilly Roman night. And nobody's left yet. They're all staying here.

The pope's greeting them in his own -- in nine different languages, many of the languages of the pilgrims that are here. I think they'll stay here right to the end -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right, Jim, just a final thought on some of what you've heard from the pilgrims you've spoken with tonight, many who have traveled thousands of miles to be here to enjoy this.

BITTERMANN: Absolutely. I think that they really wanted to be here for this moment. And of course there are other things coming up here that have brought a lot of these people here. There's going to be a concert. And that will be more of a celebration tomorrow night. A concert here with some fireworks afterward. So that may be more -- a little more joyous occasion than this mass has been.

And then Sunday on, a lot of people are here for the beatification of Mother Theresa that's happening on Sunday. I talked to a number of people in the crowd who said, yes, they wanted to be here for the anniversary, but also they were drawn here by the idea that Mother Theresa's going to be beatified.

We'll listen to the pope right now.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: (speaking foreign languages)

(through translator): Thank you. May the Lord bless you all.

(speaking foreign languages)

ZAHN: The pope using a number of different languages here tonight as this very special mass wraps up. Although the phrases he uttered were not the same, the message quite clear, expressing gratitude for the support of his followers and their devotion to God.

With me right now, our Vatican experts Delia Gallagher and John Allen, with some reflections on what we've all collectively enjoyed here this evening. Final thought from you, John?

JOHN ALLEN, VATICAN ANALYST: Well, I think what's striking at this point is the pope speaking, if you like, in all the languages of the world, or at least a sampling of them.

And of course as you know, Paua, the word "Catholic" means universal. I think that's his way of reaching out and embracing the entire family in the same way that those famous Bernini columns in St. Peter's Square, that's what they do architectually. They reach out and gather people in. And I think that's what you've seen the pope trying to do tonight. I think that's been one hallmark of his pontificate, he's tried to be a pope for the world, in service to the world.

ZAHN: And going into this mass tonight, no one was too sure what portion of the mass the pope would actually be a part of. When he delivered the homily, he delivered about a quarter of that. He handed off part to his interior minister. Tonight, finishing with a forceful voice.

DELIA GALLAGHER, VATICAN ANALYST: Exactly. This is what we see often with this pope, that he is able to rise to the occasion. And interestingly, in this mass, he celebrated the mass. Oftentimes somebody else celebrates and the pope sits on the side. But he was celebrating the entire mass. Said all of the Eucharistic prayers, et cetera.

And that is significant, as well, that he is the one who is up at the altar. I think as Jim Bittermann said down in the square, it was a very solemn occasion. And this is something that you don't necessarily get when you see it on TV. You see some flags waving and so on. That happens at the end. But when the people first come for the mass -- we saw it in Poland, with over a million people. There was silence during the mass. That's amazing, when you have tens of thousands of people all together. So a very solemn occasion for the pope's 25th.

ZAHN: I want to pause for the people to take in the glory of the music we're hearing right now.

ALLEN: Spectacular, isn't it?

ZAHN: Let's just pause for a moment and look at the followers in the square this evening.


ALLEN: This mass, you know, is the product of 2000 years of collective experience in Roman Catholicism. There is something very aesthetically satisfying about it. It's no accident that some of humanity's greatest art and music has been inspired by and produced for precisely this experience.

ZAHN: How do you think history will view this 25 years?

ALLEN: Well, for one thing, it's rare. It's only the third time the Catholic Church has celebrated the silver jubilee of a pope. It's the life of a man who has cut across all the signal event of the last 25 years of our collective life. I think you can't help but see -- to have the sense we are witnessing history tonight.

GALLAGHER: I think John Paul II is a pope who will go down in history.

ZAHN: Well said. And that pretty much wraps up our coverage.


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