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Extraordinary Life and Legacy of John Paul II

Aired April 2, 2005 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It has been an extraordinary several hours here, the last 12 hours or so here in Rome.
We want to show you a live picture right now of St. Peter's Square. These are people who have been here for many hours now, probably about 200 or so of the faithful who remain in St. Peter's Square. Some have been clutching candles. They have been singing. They have been sitting down in small groups. Some you can see probably sitting on the floor. Others huddled in small groups together, just standing, praying, talking, reflecting on the life and the legacy of Pope John Paul II, who at 9:37 p.m. Saturday evening died.

As we pan up the camera, you can see the lights are still on in Pope John Paul II's papal apartment. Those three windows have still the lights burning inside, a symbol that there is still activity going on inside the papal apartments. Some had anticipated those lights might be extinguished at some point, but they have not yet. And many of the faithful standing still in St. Peter's Square continue to gaze up at the window, not wanting to leave the square, still wanting to be close to the pontiff that they have come to love in these years of his reign.

The announcement of his death was made at approximately 9:57, about 20 minutes after the pope's death by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri. Here's what he said.


LEONARDO SANDRI, ARCHBISHOP, VATICAN UNDERSECY. OF STATE (through translator): Dear brothers and sisters, at 21:37, our beloved father John Paul II has returned to his home. Let us pray for him.


COOPER: That was the announcement made. Tens of thousands of people have been standing in St. Peter's Square all day long, waiting, hoping for word.

The police had estimated at one point there were 100,000 people in the square. And we anticipate tomorrow the square, as soon as light again breaks, the square will be packed with people.

We have extensive coverage over the next two hours here on CNN. Standing by are my colleagues, CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. CNN's Paula Zahn is in New York. And right now, we're going to go to CNN's Aaron Brown, who is also here in Rome -- Aaron?

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thank you.

Shortly after the announcement of the pope's passing, the bells rang here in Rome, as is the tradition. And everyone in this city, and I mean everyone Catholics and non-Catholics alike, felt a chill up their spine and a stillness in memory of someone who changed, not just the papacy, and certainly Pope John Paul did that, but affected change in the world.

It was hard -- be hard to imagine that would have happened 26 years ago. He became pope after just a 33 day reign of John Paul I. At the time, few people knew who a relatively young Polish cardinal was.

That would soon change. So here first, a look at the man who became the pope and CNN's Jim Bittermann.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When he was young, Karol Wojtyla, the man who would become Pope John Paul II, wrote that he believed man reveals himself not in thought, but in his actions.

The reality he said is in the confrontation itself. And man has to take an active stand. The pope was, throughout his life, defined by his actions, actions which left a distinct mark on the last decades of the 20th century and into the 21st.

Rarely has such a wide combination of talent encountered such rich opportunity. Seldom has someone been so suited for his office as John Paul.

And yet, when he stepped out on the balcony in St. Peter's Basilica on an October evening in 1978, Karol Wojtyla hardly seemed to be at the right spot at the right time. Few outside church circles even recognized his name or knew anything about him.

One of his first trips was back to his native Poland, where he urged his countrymen to be strong and stand up for moral order.

WILTON WYNN, AUTHOR, "KEEPERS OF THE KEYS": That was the beginning of the end of what we call the Soviet empire. I think he brought that empire down, but not with missiles and not even with economic sanctions, etcetera, but just by being the man, by being a man of faith.

BITTERMANN: Many believe the pope's faith was such a threat to communists, Moscow tried to assassinate him. He very nearly died after a Turkish gunman Ali Aja fired from the crowds in St. Peter's Square on a sunny May afternoon in 1981.

The pope used his time recovering from his wounds to approve a new code of canon law for the church and orchestrate a campaign to ban nuclear weapons, one of many campaigns during his reign in which he crossed swords with superpower leaders.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: Peace is not only the absence of war, it also involves reciprocal trust between nations.

BITTERMANN: John Paul believed strongly in preaching moral justice, to the point that Vatican observers believe he has changed the fundamentals of the papacy.

ROBERT MOYNIHAN, "INSIDE THE VATICAN" MAGAZINE: Now the role of a Roman pontiff has become the role of a spokesman for social justice and for human rights.

BITTERMANN: The pope, as he traveled the Catholic world throughout more than two decades, put the church squarely on the side of the downtrodden and underprivileged. In fact, strong discipline was a hallmark of John Paul's reign. While he initiated numerous consultative bishop's conferences called synods, some of those who attended said dissent was not an option. In his version, traditionalists and unyielding on issues of doctrine always prevailed.

But out on the front lines, the pope's priestly foot soldiers reported that his fixed teachings on issues such as sexuality, divorce, abortion and the role of women were driving Catholics from the church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Karl Rahner, probably the most famous theologian of the 20th century, said in 1984 before he died that this pope came to teach and to preach. He is not a pope of dialogue. And I think in many ways, that's true. I think that captures what John Paul wanted to do as pope.

BITTERMANN: Everywhere the pope did go to preach and teach though, enormous crowds came to see him.

He instituted something he called World Youth Days. To the astonishment of those around him, young people by the millions flocked to see him, even when the generation gap grew as the pope's age and infirmity took their toll.

But the pope was growing older. From 1994, beginning with a tremble in his left hand, his Parkinson's disease and then other ailments took a steadily growing toll on someone so constantly in the public eye. Observers could not stop nattering about the pope's health.

There were predictions he would not reach his most cherished goal -- taking the church into the third millennium.

But when the jubilee year began to mark the 2000th anniversary of Christ's birth, the pope was leading the celebrations. During the year, he accomplished two further goals -- a day of atonement during which Pope John Paul led his clergy to publicly confess for the church's sins.

POPE JOHN PAUL II (through translator): Let us ask for forgiveness for the divisions that have come between Christians. BITTERMANN: And his second goal, a rigorous and politically challenging trip through the Holy Land.

But the pope's efforts in the later years of his papacy to reach out to Judaism and other religions, met with only mixed success.

And an even bigger disappointment for John Paul came from his own churchmen, a sex abuse scandal centered mainly in churches in the United States, outraged Catholic faithful. A staggering number of charges were brought against priests accused of molesting children and teenagers.

Vatican observers said John Paul, who had made family life a pillar of his papacy, was clearly pained by the scandal.

(on camera): Yet many are certain the pope's reign will be remembered, not for its shortfalls, but its achievements. Decades before he became pope, John Paul wrote in his book entitled "The Acting Person," that a person's actions define what he stands for. It is the epitome of the pope's life.

(voice-over): Late in his pontificate, John Paul surprised and befuddled his critics by naming a wide variety of new members to the College of Cardinals, the exclusive club of high churchmen, who will select his successor.

Among his choices are independent minds, who are sure to intensely debate who should be the next pope. And John Paul clearly shifted the geographic center of the college toward Latin America and the underdeveloped world.

That, perhaps, will be the past pope's single most important legacy, ensuring his church's future by directing it firmly down its path of the past, alongside those who, like the pope himself, come from humble beginnings and trust in faith to help them persevere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if they'll call him John Paul II the Great. He did leave some things undone. He did not, in many ways, heal the fractures internally in the church between left and right, liberal and conservative. But as a figure on the world scene, he was a giant.


BROWN: Church officials said tonight, speaking of his fellow Catholics, we are all orphans. Over the next several weeks, that will change. A new pope will be selected.

But Catholics and non-Catholics today understand that for the last 26 years, greatness has been in our midst. And whatever the disagreements were about theology, it was a great man who died on Saturday night here in Rome.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Aaron. And so many of the thousands of people, in fact, the tens of thousands of people who came to St. Peter's Square behind me, and have spent the better part of 48 hours literally at his death bed, in the square below, praying, lighting candles, saying the rosary, saying the "Our Father" and simply praying in solidarity and support and trying to give love and comfort to the pope in his dying moments, so many of those people feel that they, as they've told us, have lost somebody who was really part of their lives.

For so many years, more than quarter of a century, he was the towering religious figure of the end of the 20th century. And as you've mentioned, ushering in the millennium, the 2000th year after Christ's birth.

And he was really a symbol for so many of these people. And particularly young people. And it is strange, as so many of us have commented, that it's not just the elderly, the people who perhaps would be more likely to stick to the doctrine of the -- and theology, particularly the conservative theology that he preached, but even young people, many of whom said they have been somewhat alienated by his strict teaching. They are the ones who came. And they're the ones who stuck by him as well.

And we're told by the Vatican that today, or rather on Saturday morning when they gave their first bulletin of his health on his final day on this earth, they said that he had slipped into unconsciousness briefly in the early morning, but that he had come out of that and had even said some words, words that they took to mean thanks to the young people and recognition that they had come to pray for him -- Paula?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: It's extraordinary when you think about the importance of that. Christiane, thank you.

The death of the pope, much like the death of a head of a state or a U.S. president, launches a series of carefully orchestrated ceremonies, all wrapped in ritual and tradition.

Here's Jonathan Mann on what happens next.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was a very different man with a similar title. His funeral was more than a quarter century ago, so long ago that even these pictures are showing their age. But they offer similarities to what the world will soon see once again.

Pope John Paul I died in September of 1978. What followed then, what will follow now, is a matter of tradition and church law. The day after the pope's death marks the start of nine days of mourning, known as Novem Dialis. The pope's body is carried into St. Peter's Basilica, to lie in state. And it's placed inside a triple wooden casket.

The pope may be buried on the fourth, fifth, or sixth day after his death. At least 15 days after his death, and no more than 20, the Vatican and the cardinals who have gathered there, will turn to a new duty, the selection of the next pope.

The man who will most influence them is, in fact, the late John Paul II. He picked nearly all the cardinals who will vote, decided how the vote will be organized, and even arranged the accommodation.

The gathering is called a conclave, because the cardinals are considered locked in together "con clave," with a key, unable to communicate with the outside world in any way, emerging only when they elect a new pope.

Most people who visit the Vatican would hardly consider that punishment, but the clerics who gather for a papal conclave have sometimes found it exhausting. The voting is slow and repetitive. The living arrangements often improvised and uncomfortable.

Conditions will be a bit better this time. Under John Paul II, the Vatican built St. Martha House, the domus Santa Marta, a hotel for visiting nuns and clergy that will be emptied of its guests and restricted to the cardinals and officials attending the conclave.

Like the other places where the cardinals will gather, it will be swept for microphones and listening devices. Its phone lines will be cut for the duration.

From Santa Marta, the cardinals will make they way each day to the Sistine Chapel, where they will meet to vote and probably vote again and again.

In their first vote, perhaps as many as four of them a day, the cardinals will need to assemble a two-thirds majority in order to elect a pope. But depending on the pace of their balloting and other factors, the cardinals can decide, after about 30 votes, to elect a pope by a lesser margin, a simple majority.

This was one of John Paul II's reforms. And it means that if a determined group of cardinals can stay loyal to a single candidate long enough, they stand a better chance of getting him elected. That new rule may be a key reason for a lengthy conclave.

All through the conclave, each time the votes are cast and counted, the ballots are burned. The crowds who gather in the Vatican's Pieza San Pietro will know that additives in the smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel will make it burn black for an inconclusive vote, white for a successful one. And shortly after they see white smoke, they will hear the first news.

"Habamus Papam," we have a pope. A man will walk out, as his predecessors have, to present himself, urbi et orbi, to the city and the world.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.


ZAHN: And in just a moment, we will continue our worldwide coverage of the death of the pope, the outpouring and the feelings in his hometown. And we will also be getting a rare look inside the Vatican.

A break first. This is CNN.


AMANPOUR: It is probably true that one of Pope John Paul II's greatest legacy will be in helping to bring on the fall of one of the 20th century's greatest tyrannies, the tyranny of communism.

It was in his native Poland that he electrified the crowds and the people with his moral support. It was when General Jaruzelski, the president of Poland, the communist president, declared a state of emergency and martial law, that the pope said the church stands with the people. It was his backing for then the young shipyard worker of Gdansk, Lech Walesa and the solidarity movement, that gave moral support and real support to the forces that started the end of communism.

It was 41 years ago that Karol Wojtyla was elected, was appointed archbishop of Krakow in Poland. And that is where we find CNN's Chris Burns, who has been joining the mourners there as they heard of the death of their beloved pope.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Where the pontiff and his flock used to sign to each other, there is now chanting near an empty window. Where Pope John Paul II once spoke and sang from the archbishop's residence, there's now a black and gold crucifix.

There are flowers, candles, and tears. Thousands of the pope's grieving country folk come to remember how he helped Poland become free. Even those far too young to have experienced the dark days of communist rule.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...more than the pope. He did so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All my life, all my adult life was with the pope. And I can't imagine life without him.

BURNS: For many, the grieving has gone on for days, even years. Poles felt they were telling Karol Wojtyla goodbye back in 2002 during his last visit when hundreds of thousands turned out for a mass he could barely celebrate.

For many, Wojtyla was first tripped to Poland as a pope in 1979, already signaled the beginning of the end of the communist regime. The then athletic pontiff left them with a powerful message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't be afraid. And even more, let your spirit descend and renew the faith of the earth of this earth. And in this moment, we felt really strange.

BURNS: That moment contrasts with the years after the fall of communism, when Poles rejected church attempts to influence politics. When the pope visited the country in 1991, he warned Poland was becoming seduced by materialism and looser values, including a more liberal law on abortion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the first time we saw him angry, pointing an accusing finger at us.


BURNS: But even if many Poles disagreed with some of the pope's positions on some social issues, they still regard him as their holy father, as their national liberator, the man who helped bring them freedom and democracy that empowered them to take their lives into their own hands -- Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Chris, and he did it all just by saying prayers and saying mass and defying those communist leaders back then. And it's well worth noting that he was, as a Pole, the first non-Italian to be elected pope in 455 years. And it is also worth noting that the people who around him when he drew his last breath on late Saturday night, were Poles, friends of his, archbishops, monsignors and bishops there. And the Polish nuns who attended to him for so long, of course, as well as his doctors and the nurses there.

Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Christiane, thanks. I'm joined by CNN Vatican analyst Delia Gallagher.

Interesting to note that though he played a big role in the fall of communism, and he communicated with Mikhail Gorbachev, then the leader of the Soviet Union, he never visited the Soviet Union or Russia?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Yes, in fact, I think it's probably one of his -- was one of his greatest desires that was left unfulfilled.

He was invited by several Russian heads of state. But of course, there is this dispute between the Russian patriarchy, the head of the Orthodox Russian Church and the Catholic Church, longstanding sort of internal dispute about Catholics encroaching on Russian territory. And so, he had to have been formally invited by the patriarch. He would not have gone otherwise. And that invitation never came.

COOPER: It's important to point out, too, I mean, we've heard a lot this evening in the last couple hours about how he was the first pope to visit a mosque, the first pope to visit a synagogue, to reach out to differing faiths.

And yet, he also reaffirmed the Catholic belief that it is only -- you can only reach salvation through Jesus Christ, and only through the teachings of the Catholic Church.

GALLAGHER: Yes, absolutely. This document, Dominus Jesus that came out a few years ago and said just that, that salvation is through Jesus Christ, and was a very controversial document at the time because as you say, he was out -- reaching out to other religions.

But I think that just goes to show that the pope was really a man of his convictions.

COOPER: And I mean, I guess, some people would see that as a contradiction. And yet, in his mind, it wasn't. That...

GALLAGHER: The two go together. Yes, the two can go together.

COOPER: All right, Delia Gallagher, thanks. We'll be talking with you a lot throughout these next two hours.

We're also going to be taking an inside look at the Vatican, some rarely seen parts of the Vatican, an extraordinary look inside the places you have not seen before. We'll be right back. Our special coverage continues.


COOPER: And you are looking at a live picture of St. Peter's Square, where even though it is so very early in the morning here, Sunday morning, and it is very cold outside, there are still several -- probably about 100 or so, perhaps a few more, people who have been here really for many, many hours, ever since word of the pope's death has reached them. They are still there.

You can actually see some people laying down on the floor. They're actually sleeping there perhaps not wanting to leave or perhaps wanting to secure a spot for the mass, which will be said for Pope John Paul II tomorrow morning, Sunday morning at around 10:30 right here in Vatican City.

There are parts of the Vatican that most visitors rarely get to see, though millions of tourists trek through the Vatican over the years. There are large parts of it which go unseen underneath, rooms that we're not allowed access to.

The National Geographic Channel is airing a special tomorrow night in which they got access to some remarkable images, some remarkable places that I had never seen, though I've been here many times before. It's an in-depth look inside the Vatican.


COOPER (voice-over): It's one of the most recognizable sites in the world, the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, the heart of the Vatican, instantly identified with the papacy.

It's a huge church. You'll find 31 altars inside here, 27 chapels, 390 statues, nearly 18,000 square yards of marble floors.

But it's only a fraction of what's really here inside the world's smallest independent state. You're seeing more than virtually any outsider ever does because of National Geographic producer John Greddon (ph).

A few years ago, he won permission to show the world the innerworkings of the Vatican. It wasn't easy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you quickly realize with the Vatican is that, you know, they don't need the press coverage. They've been doing just fine for about 2,000 years without any.

COOPER: This is the spiritual, as well as the temporal home of the Roman Catholic church. Why this particular place? Because under the main altar on Rome's Vatican hill is the grave, first identified by tradition, later by excavation of St. Peter himself, the apostle of Jesus of Nazareth.

Carved into the soaring rotunda are Jesus' words from Matthew's gospel. "Thou are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my church."

Outside of St. Peter's Square, the magnificent open area now packed with mourners. But there is much more to see. Along the deeply shaded walkways and bright sunny courtyards are the buildings and palaces where the rest of the Catholic churches daily work is conducted.

There's art restoration, preserving a collection of paintings, sculpture and tapestries from the best artists the world has known.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have a tapestry laboratory there, where they maintain these amazing huge like 20 by 30 foot tapestries, which were done by Rafael, the famous Renaissance artist. And these nuns spend their entire lives restoring the silk and wool and cotton thread. I mean, it's a vocation. It's like a form of prayer.

COOPER: They don't just work on preserving art here. Over at the Vatican library, they preserve history as well. Here's Henry VIII's petition for a divorce. The dangling red seals are from bishops who took his side. The pope said no. History changed.

Look at this signature. It's Galileo, the Galileo. Here's a handwritten letter from Michelangelo.

But never mind the history, the art, and the architecture. There's also diplomacy. Nearly 200 nations maintain diplomatic relations with the Vatican with all the diplomatic formalities that entails.

Everywhere, you see the cultural presence of (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Each member is really Swiss. They all have to be Catholic. And they aren't just for show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they're actually a very well trained security force, some of whom operate in plain clothes, just like our Secret Service.

COOPER: The Vatican's work does not stop with the passing of the pope. It will all be here tomorrow and in the next few weeks, ready for when the next pope is elected and takes this walk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One individual has just been elected. And he has to stand up and walk across the Sistine Chapel. And he's heading towards a door that's in the wall where Michelangelo's last judgment is. And he's heading for that door. There's a room on the other side called the Room of Tears.

And as we were filming this, you know, it occurred to me what kind of awesome burden was descending on this guy's shoulders, as he made this walk out of his peer group, out of the men who had elected him, because he was no longer a peer. He was now going to be their leader and not just their leader, but the leader of a billion people spiritually.

And to imagine what kind of burden that was, was just overwhelming. No wonder they call it the Room of Tears.

COOPER: It's all waiting for the next chapter in the still unfinished work of what the church calls "Salvation History."


COOPER: And of course now, we are in what is called the interregnum, the period between the popes. The pope has died. There is yet to be a new pope elected.

In the next 15 to 20 days, cardinals from all around the world will gather here at the Vatican inside the Sistine Chapel. They will be sealed in that room, wax seals on either side of the doors. And they will decide who will become the next pope. And we will be watching and waiting and bring it all -- bringing it all to you live right here on CNN.

Let's go back to New York and Paula Zahn -- Paula?

ZAHN: Thanks, Anderson. That ritual you were just talking about, as it's been practiced for so many centuries, is just awesome when you think about how religiously it's been followed.

More for all of you in a moment. We leave you now with a picture of St. Patrick's Cathedral here in New York. I think you'll probably agree, one of the grandest pieces of architecture anyway. In many ways, a hub of the church in this country, a place where Cardinal Egan delivered earlier today a very powerful tribute to Pope John Paul II.

And in a moment, we will learn more about this pope's very personal ministry, this story of one woman who says John Paul brought her to God. You'll hear her story when we come back.


ZAHN: Pope John Paul II is considered the pope who has probably visited with more people than any pope in the history of the church. It's estimated he has come into contact with 15 million people during his papacy. And people all over the world are mourning the death of Pope John Paul II. Their connections to him measured in many different ways.

For some people, simply meeting the pontiff was life changing. Jason Carroll has one woman's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At mass in a Brooklyn church, Marie Taccongna wept, tears for the man who she says changed her life.

MARIE TACCONGNA, CATHOLIC: He has given me what I believe is tremendous hope, which without it, I don't think any human being could survive.

CARROLL: The daughter of deaf parents, Taccongna is a sign language interpreter, so good she signed for Broadway productions. And being a dutiful Catholic, church services.

But spiritually, there wasn't much of a connection.

TACCONGNA: I always looked at it as an assignment or a job. And looking at it as a linguistic challenge.

CARROLL: One night in 1993, tragedy changed her life. Taccongna was beaten and raped on a Brooklyn street.

TACCONGNA: During that period of convalescence, I went to my church every day, looking for some sense of hope or understanding as to what happened to me and why.

CARROLL: The church's healing inspired her to renew her connection with her faith, even though she disagreed with the Catholic church's stand on many issues, like abortion.

TACCONGNA: I think you'd -- that's a very personal thing. And it's that person's relationship with God that should decide that.

CARROLL: And on the subject of forgiveness, Taccongna says while she was moved by the pope's ability to meet with the man who tried to kill him, she cannot forgive the man who attacked her.

TACCONGNA: I'm still human. So I could never maybe do what the pope did. That was an incredible sense of selflessness. I would never want to see that person who hurt me, but then again, I would never want to see him hurt.

CARROLL: In 1995, the pope held a mass in Central Park. Marie was his sign language interpreter and received communion.

TACCONGNA: And at that moment, I did get a calling. God was speaking to me. "Marie, we've given you a gift. Now we need you to serve the community."

CARROLL: So she became a foster mother to a deaf boy. And Taccongna says she doesn't just interpret during mass, she truly understands the meaning of what she is signing.

And while she accepts she won't agree with the church on every issue, she's grateful to the man who she says brought her closer to God.

TACCONGNA: For me, he gave me joy. At that moment, receiving the Eucharist from him, I understood the purpose of my life. Because at that point, I knew the meaning of my life or understood where to begin living. Where prior to that, I could say I was a lost soul.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: And I think Marie's story mirroring so many of the stories we've heard tonight about the very personal impact this pope has had on so many lives. And the other thing that I think Anderson is worth mentioning is how, in many ways, the pope's physical challenges that he has had to endure have been such a powerful symbol of the need to overcome struggles in one's lives.

And I think that's a message that has resounded with a lot of his followers.

COOPER: That's so true. And this pope, especially, has really embraced suffering and the redemptive power of suffering, not just in his later years, but I mean, his suffering as a small child losing his mother at age 9, losing his brother shortly after that, losing his father.

I read a quote earlier. The pope said by the age of 20, I lost everyone I had ever loved. And that really pushed him into the priesthood, freed him in a way from the bonds that had held him, those familial bonds, all of those were blown away.

There have been so many stories like that woman that we have heard today and seen all around the world, but particularly here in St. Peter's Square, where people have come all throughout the day.

At one point, there were, I mean, tens of thousands of people throughout the day. The police had estimated 100,000 people at one point. All of them had a story. All of them wanted to be here to celebrate the life and to mourn the death of John Paul II.

CNN's bureau chief Alessio Vinci talked to some of those who were mourning today.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): At traditional Polish song accompanies the pope on his final journey. "Lord, say my name, and I will follow your will," go the lyrics.

It was one of the pope's favorite songs in which devotion to God takes center stage.

And now that God has called him to his side, they have come all the way from Poland to sing it one last time below the window of their beloved pope.

ANNA KOLASA, POLISH PILGRIM: Now I'm here. I don't know what I may do. It's terrible. VINCI: By the thousands, they gathered in St. Peter's Square into the early hours of Sunday morning to light a candle, to pause for thought, to pray together, and to be together. For some, it was like losing a relative.

FEDERICA GRASSI, POLISH PILGRIM: I feel like a daughter who lose his father.

VINCI: And while in recent days his death had been widely expected, when the time came, it still felt too soon.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Vatican City.


COOPER: All his life, and all during his papacy, the pope met with the poor and the powerful, people from all walks of life. In a moment, we'll hear from President Bush about his reaction to the pope's death and his life.


ZAHN: Pope John Paul's papacy lasted so long, five American presidents shared the world stage with John Paul II. And earlier today, President Bush made a brief statement from the White House.

A report now from Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president found his tribute to the pope in an allusion to a comforting psalm.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Catholic church has lost its shepherd. The world has lost a champion of human freedom.

BASH: Above the White House and around the world, the American flag lowered to half staff to honor the pontiff.

BUSH: The good and faithful servant of God has been called home.

BASH: Mr. Bush grieves on behalf of a nation, especially its 64 million Catholics.

He and the First Lady attended a solemn mass at St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington. But for the president, it is also personal. The Protestant who talks openly of his faith was eager to be in the pope's presence. They met three times, most recently at the Vatican last June.

In sync on some so-called culture of life issues, like their stance against abortion. But Mr. Bush was also on the receiving end of John Paul II's penchant for blunt words. He opposed the Iraq War.

Aides say as soon as the president learned of the pope's passing, he privately reflected on his personal courage, an example of how one man can change history.

Even a powerful American president was in awe.

BUSH: We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the bishop of Rome and a hero for the ages.

BASH (on camera): No official announcement yet, but senior aides say Mr. Bush does plan to go to the Vatican next week. It appears he would be the first American president to attend a papal funeral, perhaps fitting since John Paul II was the first pope to visit the White House some 26 years ago.

Dana Bash, CNN, the White House.


ZAHN: And I mentioned a little bit earlier, with this pope's papacy stretching some 26 years, he got to know several generations of world leaders and two generations of George Bushes.

Today, President Bush 41 took a moment to reflect.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We mourn the death of the holy father, Pope John Paul II. With my privilege to have met with him on eight separate occasions. At every meeting, I felt I was in the presence of a true man of peace. His quiet strength was an inspiration to me and to the others in my family who are honored to be in his presence.

In a broad sense, his stance for democracy, for human rights, and for peace were sterling positions that resonated not only in the Catholic faith, but in many other faiths around the entire world.

The pope's strength and his determination and leadership will be sorely missed in this troubled world. And on a very personal basis, I feel so fortunate to have known this good man. He enriched my life just as his ministry enriched the lives of so many of the faithful.


ZAHN: And former President Clinton, who met five times with the pope, also paying tribute. He called the late pontiff "a beacon of light, not just for Catholics, but for all people. His holiness," he said, "is now at home with God whom he served so faithfully for a lifetime."

And just ahead on our special coverage, moments of the incredible death and emotion, captured today in still photos from all over the world. We'll share them with you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) AMANPOUR: Here in Rome, you get a real sense that the pope was seriously and truthfully the champion of the underdog. It was the poor, the dispossessed, the sick, the infirm who he really reached out to most of all, even though he met a whole variety of people, world leaders, and important people.

But it was the dispossessed that he championed, the underdog. And there is one of the newspapers which has come out already today, which calls him simply "il papa de tuti," the pope for everyone.

And there is a moment of deep reflection and even stillness, as those people remember his legacy, as CNN's Beth Nissen now reports.


BETH NISSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square knew the word would come. Still when it did, there was grief, sorrow at the loss of the man they called their holy father.

Grief, sorrow, here and in Poland, where the pope had grown up. And in so many places around the globe, a measure of the size of the Catholic family, one billion believers.

In the great cities of Europe, London, Paris, Berlin, in Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, in Russia, across the United States from New York City to Denver, Albuquerque, to Seattle, in the Philippines, in Central America, Nicaragua, Guatemala, in Mexico, Columbia, Peru, in Brazil, home to the largest population of baptized Roman Catholics in the world. Even in Cuba. In Pakistan and India, where Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian church, in Africa, where the ranks of Catholics are growing quickly. In Korea, and quietly in China, where as many as eight million Catholics worship, many underground.

In all these places and many more, there were among believers and admirers, tears. And there were prayers of thanksgiving that John Paul II was at peace, his mortal suffering at an end that he was at last with the God he had served so faithfully.

Beth Nissen, CNN, New York.


AMANPOUR: And as Beth Nissen shows us, sometimes in this frenetic and moving world, it is those still images that capture the moment, as they did so beautifully in that last report.

And we'll have another report this time from the pope's hometown in Poland when we come back after a break.


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