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Pope John Paul II's Funeral to be Held Friday at 4:00 a.m.

Aired April 4, 2005 - 07:00   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Bill Hemmer, live in Rome, Italy. Moments ago, we learned the pope's funeral will take place this Friday 10:00 a.m. local time, 4:00 a.m. in New York City, as the viewing of Pope John Paul II's body continues now on this AMERICAN MORNING.
ANNOUNCER: This is AMERICAN MORNING, with Bill Hemmer in Rome.

HEMMER: Hello again from Rome. It's 1:00 in the afternoon, 7:00 back on the East Coast. Day two of this mourning period in the Vatican continues today. There's an awful lot of information coming out just moments ago. We want to get right to it this morning.

First of all, the first meeting of the cardinals has just concluded. It lasted about two hours in length. The understanding we have is that later today, the pope's body will be moved from the Apostolic Palace over to St. Peter's Basilica, where the official lying in state will begin at 5:00 local time, that's 11:00 in the morning back on the East Coast of the U.S. Also when the body is on view, the funeral, we now understand, will be on Friday at 10:00 a.m. local time, as a mentioned a short time ago.

Meanwhile, the city is getting ready for an absolute influx of pilgrims. It is very difficult to nail down an official number right now, but police and city officials here in Rome anticipate upwards of two million people to descend upon this town starting today, and again continuing as we move to the week and toward the end of the week for the pope's funeral on Friday.

Alessio Vinci, our Rome bureau chief, also with me now. And, Alessio, we mentioned the time for the funeral. We know that. We've been waiting for two days on that news. And we also know about the burial. What have you found out?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct. We do know now that the pope has also left provisions that he be buried here in Rome. There was a lot of speculation in Italian media, especially in the last few days, that the pope may have left a will or some notes, that he may have expressed a wish that he could be buried back in Poland. This is not the case, at least for now. We know that the first burial anyway will take place here in Rome. That does not rule out the possibility at a later date he may be moved, or parts of his body perhaps be moved back to Poland.

But for the time being, we can confirm that the pope will be buried here in Rome, and that is very much in tradition with the Catholic Church. HEMMER: You say parts of his body may be moved to Poland, we only mention that, because there are some reports here in Rome that indicate his heart, at some point, could be buried in Poland.

VINCI: That is correct. This is not the first time it would happen with popes and with saints. You have parts of the body you know, scattered throughout different parts of the world so people can actually worship them. So it would not be the first time, of course.

HEMMER: As far as we know at this point, the burial will take place in the Basilica of St. Peter's.

On another topic, Alessio, we both had the opportunity today to go inside the Apostolic Palace and view the body of pope John Paul II. I'll give my thoughts on it a bit later, but I wanted to get yours, when your inside the Clementine Hall.

VINCI: Well, I think two very powerful moments. The first one before you reach the actual Clementine room. It's in the second floor of the Apostolic Palace, lots of people -- you know, clergymen, nuns, diplomatic corps, people working in the Vatican. And you know, as we were walking up, a group of nuns started praying the Hail Mary, and then the entire area there started praying together. It was a very powerful moment.

And then when you enter the room, of course, you see this magnificent room, the Clemetine room. This is where the people used to meet foreign dignitaries when they would come to Rome, and it really shows the power of the Vatican really. And when I actually approached the body of the pope, obviously, you know, you really feel a deep sense of respect for this man. And you know, you only have a few seconds, obviously, there is no time to stop by. There's a lot of people coming behind you. But the first thing that I remember was feeling a deep sense of respect, and I almost felt like you want to talk to him or something. But obviously, covered the pope for so long a time. And yes, respect, I think, would be the first feeling that would come to mind, and of course, the fact there was so much prayer. There was a couple of priests there on the left-hand side of the pope reciting the rosary and you hear this beautiful music as well. Very, very powerful. Very powerful.

HEMMER: Some of the things that I observed in there, the frescoes that are so beautiful, many of them painted by Rafael. The ornate doors and the wooden carving, all very solemn. And I think also if you look into the faces of the people after they view the pope's body, so many are in tears as they walk away.

VINCI: Look, I shouldn't say this, because obviously, we're all professional journalists, but we were brought there, the corps of journalists who covers the Vatican on a regular basis. And among them, there are people who cover the pope for many, many years, you know, veteran journalists of John Paul II from around the world, I saw them crying. You know, and when journalists actually get that kind of feeling you know the moment is particularly powerful. You know, in my long career as a journalist, I only saw reporters crying one other time, and it was on 9/11 in New York City. HEMMER: Alessio, thanks. We'll talk again a bit later this morning.

Alessio Vinci, our Rome bureau chief.

Also, as we move later in the day here on Monday, it officially day two of the mourning period for the Vatican. Church law dictates that nine days are set aside after the pope's death to be the official mourning period. Now into day two, late last night we went in the square of St. Peter's trying to get a sense of the people who have come there as to why they're there, and what sort of feeling they get when they arrive.


HEMMER (voice-over): So many tell us the days are different now. The pace moving with a gentle calm, the sense of spirit growing stronger and the crowds getting bigger. Video screens replay highlights of a remarkable life and you can see what that life means on the faces who gather here. They are young, and they are old and they are couples in love. These two college students came to the Vatican twice on day one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so many people in the Vatican, yet there's just this calm and this peace. People are talking, but it's very solemn and quiet.

HEMMER: Everyone who comes here seems to have their own story, about him.

REV. GERALD RUANE, NEW JERSEY: The first time I saw him, I said something in Polish, not in very good Polish. So at least I got a smile. So anyway.

HEMMER (on camera): And a good memory?

RUANE: Good memory too.

HEMMER (voice-over): The Vatican is getting ready for a funeral, building more platforms for more TV coverage for more people around the world to get a better view. This Canadian lives in Italy, an hour outside of Rome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You saw this on TV, and I saw this look in people's eyes, and said let me go there and see if it's like what it is. And now I have that look in my eyes. I feel really, really sad.

HEMMER: Many called him the people's pope. And he was Janet Badeen's (ph) pope as well. She met him just three months ago, and won't forget it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was as if everything around you as you approached him went into slow motion, as if you're in this bubble. It was truly a holy moment.

HEMMER: There seems to be many holy moments for those who come to the Vatican. And as the first day of mourning ends, the reflection on his life is just beginning.


HEMMER: And again, well into day two at this point, just a bit past 1:00 in the afternoon here in Rome. Just getting word again a few moments ago, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who is the spokesperson for the Vatican, will hold a press conference in about 10 minutes, and we'll bring that live when it begins. We expect to get more details. We talked about the funeral and the burial, and also the lying in state, which we expect to take place toward the end of the day today here in Rome.

As we await that press conference, want to bring in my colleague with me today in New York City, Miss Carol Costello working for Soledad.

And, Carol, good morning to you.


I wanted to ask you a few questions. Two million people are supposed to come to Rome to see the pope on the day of his funeral. I can't imagine what that would be like, because Rome is a crazy place on a normal day.

HEMMER: Yes, listen, five years ago, for the Roman Catholic Jubilee in the year 2000, over the period of 12 months, they had 30 million people, and that was a huge task for the city to handle. In 2003 for the beatification of Mother Teresa in St. Peter's Square, they had 250,000, and that was the single largest event for the pope in the Vatican in his entire 26-year history.

Listen, the mayor in the city is already talking about this will be the greatest challenge the city has ever faced. They're setting up extra trains that are coming to town, extra water supplies, giant tent cities may be available if the pilgrims need a place to stay. You know, the hotel space in Rome can be pretty tight, and we do expect, with this influx of people into Italy throughout the week, it is going to be a monumental task for the people here trying to keep it safe and trying to keep things functioning as the city has now for so many centuries -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Bill, we'll get back to you. Thank you.

Want to bring in Jack now for the Question of the Day.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: We'll just a take a look in a little bit, Carol, at some of the changing views of American Catholics. This pope was much beloved in this country, but among American Catholics, they would like to see the church change direction when it comes to issues like priests being allowed to marry, women in the priesthood, stem cell research. There's a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll that looks at where American Catholics would like to see the church go under the leadership of the next pope. That's coming up in a few minutes.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Thank you, Jack.

COSTELLO: A bit of other news for you now. A rare honor will be bestowed today, a recognition of extreme courage under fire. Army Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith will be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. His wife, Birgit Smith, described how two years ago today in Iraq, he threw himself into the line of fire and saved at least 100 soldiers.


BIRGIT SMITH, WIFE OF MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: He just took over like always, and it cost his life. He saved a lot of lives and gave his own for his soldiers.


COSTELLO: He did indeed. Sergeant Smith's 11-year-old son will accept the award from President Bush today at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. We'll have a full interview about Birgit Smith in our 9:00 hour.

Parts of eastern and central Pennsylvania are under states of emergency because of major flooding. Rising waters along the Delaware and Scoucal Rivers have forced many residents to evacuate their homes. The area got several inches of rain this weekend. Officials in Easton, Pennsylvania, say this is the worst flood damage in 50 years.


HEMMER: In a moment here, we're awaiting just minutes away from the spokesperson for the Vatican to hold the first press conference today. More details on the funeral, more details on the rest of the schedule for the week.

And also, John Allen, our Vatican analyst stops by as we continue our live coverage on this AMERICAN MORNING in Rome, Italy, right after this.


HEMMER: Good morning, everyone.

Welcome back to Rome, Italy. Now day two of the mourning period for Pope John Paul II. Private viewing of his body continues today for a select few members of the church and workers in the Vatican, along with their families, filing past his body again today. Any moment now, we'll hear from the Vatican spokesperson. We'll take a that press conference to you live. But we also know more about the funeral, and also about the burial.

John Allen, our Vatican analyst, joins me now here in Rome to talk about these details now.

And, John, good afternoon again to you.

Any surprise, I guess, with the burial, we now know it will take place, according to papal tradition, inside St. Peter's Basilica. JOHN ALLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we all along felt that was the most likely scenario, although I think there was obviously a sentimental tug from the polls, particularly from the people of Krakow, hoping that the pope might come home one more time, sort of, if you'd like a 10th trip home to Poland. But obviously that's not going to be realized. The pope will follow papal custom, as virtually half of the popes have, the 263 popes in the history of the Catholic Church, and will be buried under St. Peters Basilica.

But let's remember, Bill, that under the basilica in that grotto are believed to be the bones of Peter himself. So it's an appropriate return for the successor of Peter.

HEMMER: Upon which this church was built, the rock, as The New Testament tells us. When we talk about the funeral, that will come on day six of the mourning period, which is the outside day according to church law.

ALLEN: That's right.

HEMMER: I'm wondering, if they do get 2 million people here, that they would extend the viewing period as long as they can to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to see the body.

ALLEN: Yes, I think it's that, and also just the logistics of accommodating that kind of crowd obviously are overwhelming. And I think probably wanted to just buy a little bit of time to make sure that everything was appropriately done. So there wouldn't be anything that would sort of cast a shadow over the funeral rites.

HEMMER: The meeting of the cardinals, the first one is concluded, lasted about two hours today. There's talk here in Rome about a secret cardinal being named by the pope before he passed away. Do you have details on that? Is that a fact?

ALLEN: Well, Bill, there's a tradition in the Catholic Church, where the pope will occasionally name cardinals in pectorate, which means secretly essentially. The idea is the cardinal lives in a country where it would be dangerous to be identified as a cardinal, the pope will name him but not identify him, and there is such a cardinal. If that cardinal is under 80 and knows of his own nomination and can come forward or is notified in some way, then there could be 118, rather than 117.

HEMMER: Also this cardinal could become the next pope, too.

ALLEN: There's always that chance.

HEMMER: Anything else you hear from the meeting today?

ALLEN: Just that -- I did have a chance to speak to one cardinal after the meeting, and he had a sense there was a great atmosphere of serenity about the meeting, that it wasn't just a business meeting, but there was a sense that something momentous had happened, and he characterized it as a somewhat prayerful atmosphere. HEMMER: We are getting in the first videotape just now in fact of the cardinals arriving for the first meeting. This is the first time we've had an opportunity to see them, but they have all come here to Rome. They're all getting ready for the opportunity, as many like to consider it now. But also, the sense we're getting from many of them is that they're quite nervous about this next decision.

ALLEN: You have to remember, although these cardinals have, in a sense, seen everything there is to see in the Catholic Church, the one thing all but three have never done is take part in a conclave. And this of course is the supreme duty of a cardinal, the supreme responsibility is to choose the next pope, so I think there's a sense of awe, and certainly a sense of nervousness, not quite knowing what's going to happen. In some ways, like you and I, they're waiting to see how the details will fall out, in terms of what is going to happen.

HEMMER: How much are they thinking about the possibility they could be the one?

ALLEN: To tell you the truth, having interviewed about 65 of the 117 cardinals who are going to vote, I think it's a very rare man who takes seriously the idea that he could be pope. I think, bear in mind, they have a very -- take, obviously, very seriously traditional Catholic doctrine about who the pope is, giving that and knowing their own flaws and weaknesses as we all do, I think it's very difficult for them to see themselves honestly in that role, which is why, by the way, Bill when the new pope is elected, he's taken out of the Sistine Chapel and into a small room off to the side, called the room of tears, and the idea is any man in that -- stepping into that role is going to cry.

HEMMER: Let me interrupt you, Joaquin Navarro-Valls now at the microphone. The press conference is now beginning.

JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): During the first congregation, at 10 a.m. this morning, 65 cardinals participated. And during this first congregation, they made the oath of paragraph 12 of the apostolic constitution, which you can read in the document you have. During the second congregation, the 65 cardinals who attended took the most urgent decisions, including the logistics of the translation of the body of the pope to the basilica and the date of the funeral of the pope.

Together with the 65 cardinals, the substitute of the secretary of state, Monsignor Leonardo Sandri, the secretary of the College of Cardinals, Francesco Monterisi, Archbishop Piero Marini, master of the liturgy celebration, together with two other master of ceremonies.

As regards the first decisions, today at 4 p.m. the body of John Paul II will be transferred from the Clementine Chapel to the basilica. After a moment of prayer in the Clementine Chapel, which will be conducted by the cardinal chamberlain, the body will be transferred -- the transfer will begin.

Many of you know the route, the first lodge, the (inaudible) brass portal, go around the St. Peter's Square and then it will be taken inside the basilica.

The cardinal chamberlain will conduct the liturgy of the word -- not the celebration of the mass, but the liturgy of the word.

At the end of this liturgy, the visits of the faithful, of the people, can start. This will probably happen at around 6 p.m. approximately. That's the time when the faithful will be able to visit.

Friday, April 8, at 10 a.m., in the sanctuary (ph) of the basilica, we will celebrate the funeral of John Paul II.

Friday the 8th of April, at 10 a.m., the liturgy will be celebrated by the cardinals, by the patriarchs of the eastern churches, and will be presided by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals.

At the end of the celebration of the holy mass, the coffin of the pope will be taken inside the basilica and then in the crypts for the tomblation (ph) in the Vatican crypt.

The next congregations of the cardinals starting from tomorrow morning will take place in the Hall of the Synod. The number of the cardinals will increase and they will start at 10 a.m., so there's still another general congregation tomorrow morning.

For today, it's been decided that the basilica is going to be open all night. It will close from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. in the morning for maintenance reasons, given that we're expecting a lot of people.

NAVARRO-VALLS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In the following days, if these flocks of people and visitors and pilgrims continues, then the basilica will stay open all night as well and, if necessary, until the day of the funerals of the pope it will be open all night. And, of course, people will know this through the information that you're going to provide them.

I'm sorry, there's a little mistake. The body will be transferred at 5 p.m. this afternoon -- the body of the pope -- not at 4 p.m. as I said before.

A lot of people have asked, there have been a lot of calls from abroad, be able to plan a trip to Rome, so I want to reiterate that the basilica is going to be open all night and if the flocks of people continues heavily, we will keep it open all night every day until the funeral of the pope.

And there are a lot of questions I see and I don't have a lot of time, but I'll try to answer.


NAVARRO-VALLS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We will find all the information in the bulletin that's been prepared. All the televisions have asked to be connected. Regarding the translation of the body, you will be able to see the beginning, as the body gets transferred from the Clementine Chapel to the basilica; the whole route.

It was 65 cardinals and they made an oath -- it's hard to listen to the questions. So there was a first general congregation, then there was a little bit of a break and then there was a second one, that's why it took a little more this morning.


NAVARRO-VALLS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Not yet. The decisions that have been made are the ones that I've told you. Nothing else has been decided yet.


NAVARRO-VALLS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The pope hasn't shown any will or any decision.


NAVARRO-VALLS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): After the funerals, there will be the mass and soon afterwards, they will take the body inside the basilica and inside the crypts. And it will be buried there in the crypts of the basilica.

We're trying to see -- of course, there are going to be some technical problems because of the huge proportions of the events that are taking place.

The press office will meet with the Italian authorities and bertalazzo (ph) to coordinate the logistics of the organization of the event. You journalists have an exceptional position, the Charlemagne Hall, and we will coordinate for you for a place from where you will be able to see everything.

But in the next few days or so, we will give you more information regarding that, as we're still working on the logistics.


NAVARRO-VALLS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I'm trying to transmit to you all the information of the meetings that happened this morning.

Thank you very much.

HEMMER: You've been listening to Joaquin Navarro-Valls at a press conference under way in the Vatican behind me. A few more details given out, 65 cardinals apparently participated in the first meeting, which is about half of the entire college of cardinals from around the world coming here, convening in the Vatican. We know the funeral will take place Friday at about 10:00 a.m. local time, 4:00 on the East Coast of the U.S. And also, the Basilica of St. Peter's, once the public viewing begins later today, it will stay open essentially all night, only closing for three hours at a time, from 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., for what Joaquin Navarro-Valls calls technical reasons. All this giving great consideration to the great possibility of this huge influx of pilgrims coming to the Vatican and paying their final respects to Pope John Paul II.

One of the cardinals in attendance at the meeting earlier today was the U.S. cardinal, Theodore McCarrick. And he is my guest here in Italy as well.

And we welcome you here to our program and also welcome to Italy.

I'm curious to know, from your perspective, as you go into what will be a conclave in two weeks, what kind of a pope do you want to see lead the church next?


HEMMER: All right. I'm sorry to interrupt you, Cardinal McCarrick, but we're having just a little bit of problem with your microphone there. We're going to try to ask the question again so our viewers at home get a better understanding of your answer.

And if you could, please, sir, tell me what kind of a pope do you want to see lead the church.

MCCARRICK: Well, it's a very complex question.

I think we're all anxious to find someone who would continue the work of Pope John Paul II. I think a lot of us are hoping that he would be a man who would be able to reach out to all the people, a man who would touch lives, a man who would be known as someone who loves people, who loves the poor, loves the stranger, loves the faithful. I think that was a great mark of John Paul II and I think we're all hoping that someone who has that same great characteristic would be the one who succeeds him.

HEMMER: What was the sense you got, maybe the mood in the room at this first meeting among the 65 cardinals? Was it a sense of nervousness, or was it excitement, or how would you characterize it?

MCCARRICK: Well, I think really the report that you received from Dr. Navarro-Valls, sort of, gave a sense of what was going on.

It was a business meeting. It was a meeting which we all tried to look at as the apostolic constitution of Pope John Paul II asked us to do, to look at those immediate details. And we worked them out and tried to move forward. So it was really a business meeting with the cardinals. We got together and wanted to make sure that we're doing this in the way the holy father wanted us to, following his instructions and following the guidance that he gave us in that constitution.

So everything was done according to those outlines. And I think we were satisfied that we had followed the lead that he gave us and were faithful to what he had asked us to do. HEMMER: John Allen, who you know well, is our Vatican analyst. He told me a few moments ago that four years ago he asked you about the possibility of you participating in a conclave at some point and you told him at that time that you wish you would turn 80 so you would not have to cast a ballot. Do you still feel that way today?

MCCARRICK: Well, you know, you accept the reality of what happens to you. It's going to be an awesome responsibility. I think we all feel that way.

I think it's -- to make sure that we really listen carefully to the voices not only of the other cardinals, but to the voices of the people and ultimately that we try to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. That's what it's all about. And try that way to choose someone who will be able to carry on in a very difficult world, a world that's even more complex than 26 years ago when the late holy father took over.

I think it needs a man with many talents and with many gifts and with the same courage and always the same ability to reach out to people and to let people know that he loves them. That's what the world needs today. And I think that's what we have to try to find in this holy father.

So it's not an easy job and, well, there are 117 of us who have it, so with God's help, do the best we can.

HEMMER: How often do you think of the possibility that you could be the next leader of this church?

MCCARRICK: Never. This is not within the realm of possibility.

So I look at the other cardinals and there are a lot of good and holy men, and I am sure that we'll find somebody who would be worthy of that awesome responsibility and I'm going to vote for that fellow.

HEMMER: Theodore McCarrick, U.S. cardinal here in Rome with us today, thank you for your time and we'll be speaking throughout the week.


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