The Venerable Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian: Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II), born Karol Józef Wojtyła (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), reigned as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005.
The funeral of Pope John Paul II was held on 8 April 2005, six days after his death.
John Paul II has been acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. It is widely held that he was instrumental in ending Communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe as well as significantly improving the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion.
Pope John Paul's funeral brought together the single largest gathering in history of heads of state outside the United Nations, surpassing the funerals of Winston Churchill (1965), Princess Diana of Wales in (1997) and Michael Jackson (2009). It is also the largest single gathering of Christianity in history, with numbers estimated in excess of four million mourners gathering in Rome.
In a historical rarity, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christian leaders, as well as leaders in Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, offered memorials and prayers of their own for their congregants sharing in the grief of Catholics.
Among the most familiar faces worldwide were the then-current and former Presidents of the United States, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom, the current and former Presidents of Brazil, the President of Poland, the President of France, the King and Queen of Spain, the Chancellor of Germany and the President of Germany, the Prince of Wales (who postponed his wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles by 24 hours, to attend), the Prime Minister of Canada, the King and Queen of Jordan, the President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Khatami of Iran, Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines and Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
President George W Bush said in a statement he issued shortly after Vatican officials announced the pontiff's death: "The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home."
Charles, the Prince of Wales postponed his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles so that he, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister Tony Blair could attend Pope John Paul's funeral in Rome.
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was present at Pope John Paul II's funeral. It is the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury attended a papal funeral since the Church of England broke with the papacy in the 16th century.
At the Pope's funeral, Archbishop Rowan Williams wore a cross given to him by Pope John Paul II and the ring given to former Archbishop Michael Ramsey by Pope Paul VI.
Archbishop Rowan said his presence at the funeral was "a mark of the deep bonds of personal closeness and intimacy that have come to exist between the office of the Archbishop and the Papacy".
Speaking on the April 2 (death of Pope John Paul II) edition of CNN's Larry King Live program Dr. Billy Graham said that that Pope John Paul II was the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world in the last 100 years.
"And tonight, I have a very strange feeling of loss. I almost feel as though one of my family members has gone. I loved him very much and had the opportunity of discussing so many things with him. And we wrote each other several times during the years," Dr. Graham said.
Billy Graham told Larry King that Pope John Paul II is with God:
"I think he's with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer."
On why he wasn't attending the Pope funeral:
"I don't have the physical strength to go, and I have been invited. I was invited about six or seven months ago by the Vatican ahead of time. And they've asked that I come. So I asked if I could send my daughter. They wanted a woman to come representing me. So I'm asking my daughter, Anne Lotz, to go. And she's going with an associate of mine. And then my son, Franklin, will be going to the enthronement of the new Pope."
Read the full story here.
Anne Graham Lotz wrote on her website after attending the Pope's funeral: ‘As my Father’s official representative to Pope John Paul II’s funeral, I was seated on the third row. From that honoured position, I looked out on a vast sea of people jammed into St. Peter’s Square… Surrounding me were leaders of almost every major Christian religious group, including my own brother-in-law, Dr. Denton Lotz, the General Secretary for the Baptist World Alliance, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, the General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Egyptian Coptic priests… To my left were row upon row of Catholic bishops, dressed in their raspberry coloured robes and caps. Beyond them and seated on the steps of the Basilica were the 115 Cardinals who would be responsible for electing the next pope… The most impressive aspect of the entire, almost surreal scene was the quiet, peaceful atmosphere of unmistakable, respectful reverence. How could so many people be so still? How could so many warring factions and sects come together in such harmony? …surely God had a message He wanted to convey. What was it? And then I knew… Just as the death of one man, Pope John Paul II, brought together people from virtually every nation and religion in a momentary atmosphere of peace and harmony, so the death of one Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, can bring the world together in permanent peace--peace with each other and peace with God… I stared at the crucifix on that chilly, windswept platform and wondered--was God once again offering “peace on earth, good will to all men?” Was He calling the people of the world to put their focus, and their faith, in the Man on the Cross--Jesus? I believe He was… Sitting that day on a wooden chair in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, as I experienced firsthand a moment of enormous historical and eternal significance, I bowed my head and thanked God over and over for the opportunity to just give them Jesus’.
Graham’s relationship with John Paul II predated his pontificate. When the Pope was still Cardinal Wojtyla of Krakow, he invited Graham to preach in his pulpit, much to the displeasure of the Polish Catholic establishment.
Pastor Billy Graham have also been quoted saying, “He [Pope John Paul II] was truly one of those rare individuals whose legacy will endure long after he has gone ... I will always remember his personal warmth to me and his deep interest in our ministry.”
The Dalai Lama offered special prayers for His Holiness Pope John Paul II who passed on.
"His Holiness Pope John Paul II was a man I held in high regard. He was a determined and deeply spiritual minded person for whom I had great respect and admiration. His experience in Poland, then a communist country, and my own difficulties with communists, gave us an immediate common ground. The first time we met, he struck me as very practical and open, with a broad appreciation of global problems. I have no doubt that he was a great spiritual leader." Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama pays tribute to Pope John Paul II at Vatican embassy in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, April 6, 2005.
Dalai Lama visited Pope John Paul II eight times, more than any other single dignitary.
Benny Hinn renowned American televangelist / Pentecostal pastor attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II and said in a live CNN interview from Rome that "This is a special day in the history of Christianity...I am here to honor the memory of this great Pope who has really touched my life as well as millions".
“Pope John Paul II pointed millions to Jesus Christ when he was Pope. And I believe we're in for the greatest move of the Spirit of God on this planet." Benny Hinn (The Impact of the Pope's Death, By Chris Mitchell, Middle East Bureau Chief, CBN.com).
Robert Harold Schuller
Robert Harold Schuller, American televangelist, pastor, and author known principally through the weekly Hour of Power television broadcast that he began in 1970. He is also the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.
“I considered it an honor and a privilege to have had several private times with His Holiness.…On each occasion I felt the compassionate spirit of Christ radiating from his soul.” Robert H Schuller (NBC News, April 2, 2005)
Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is a media mogul, American televangelist who owns the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) among others.
“I am deeply grieved as a great man passes from this world to his much deserved eternal reward…. It was my great honor to meet with him at the residence of my good friend, Cardinal O’Connor, in New York, and to sit in the Consistory during the mass he conducted in Central Park.” Pat Robertson said about Pope John Paul II's death (Media Spotlight, Volume 28, Number 2, Redmond, Washington).
Jack Van Impe
Jack Van Impe is a televangelist who is known for his half-hour weekly television series Jack Van Impe Presents which he co-hosts with his wife Rexella. His television program is an eschatological commentary on the news of the week through his interpretation of the Bible.
“The pope graduated this life and he went home to heaven.” Rexella said.
“I have read over five hundred sermons that Pope John Paul delivered…. And, oh, what a blessing he’s been to me.” Jack Van Impe added.
In speaking of the assassination attempt on John Paul II, Van Impe made the following statement: “And that was Satan trying to take his life to stop the ministry he was going to have globally.”
John Paul II is to be Beatified on May 1st 2011. The date is significant as it will be the Second Sunday of Easter, which he dedicated to the Divine Mercy. It will also be on the eve of which his earthly life ended.
Watch Pope John Paul II's funeral videos:
Watch Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11 here.
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