The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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People's Pope draws great pilgrim wave
- Fitting tribute to a traveller

Vatican City, April 3 (Reuters): Pope John Paul's body was displayed to the world today and his words echoed across St. Peter's Square as faithful mourned the Pole who helped topple Communism in Europe but left a divided church.

Streams of pilgrims converged on Rome in a spontaneous outpouring of affection for the Pontiff, who died last evening aged 84 in his Vatican bed after an extended struggle with ill health that slowly sapped his strength.

The Pope's body, clad in crimson and white vestments, was put on view for the world by Vatican TV. He lay on a bier under a simple crucifix with his bishop's staff under his arm.

His body is expected to be transferred to St Peter's Basilica at 1500 GMT tomorrow for public viewing and his funeral is set for later in the week, possibly Friday.

If the funeral falls on Friday, it will coincide with the wedding of Britain's Prince Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles. The prince's spokesperson said the wedding would go ahead even if it clashes with the last rites of the Pope.

Cardinals will meet tomorrow morning to fix the timetable, with more than 100 world leaders expected to attend the funeral, including President George W. Bush.

News of his death has already set off one of the greatest influxes of pilgrims in Rome's memory ' a fitting tribute to a traveller who journeyed the equivalent of 30 times the circumference of the earth and spent a lifetime meeting people. 'He has called us and we have come,' said Giuseppe Incarnati, who rushed to Vatican City from Naples to be close to the deceased Pope.

World leaders hailed John Paul as a force for peace during his 26-year papacy, while others credited him with a major role in the fall of the Iron Curtain.

But liberal Catholics criticised his proclamations against contraception, abortion, married priests and women clergy. 'His pontificate was full of contradictions,' said the 'We Are Church' Catholic reform movement. 'The direction in which he took the church internally was very distressing for those who had hopes for real reform.'

But in his native Poland, dissenting voices were hard to hear amidst scenes of nationwide mourning.

More than 100,000 worshippers packed the central square in the capital Warsaw, while 60,000 gathered in Krakow, where Karol Wojtyla was archbishop from 1964 until he became Pope in 1978, to hear John Paul's last message to his homeland. 'I wish to once again entrust the Church, the world, all people around the globe, and myself in this moment of weakness to this (Divine) love,' said the message, written on March 31.

The Vatican said in a statement today that John Paul had died of heart failure and septic shock ' when an overwhelming infection leads to low blood pressure and blood flow which can stop vital organs.

In St Peter's Square, tearful worshippers sang Gregorian chants in the open-air mass presided over by Sodano and another potential successor, or 'papabile' ' German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Bracing for up to two million pilgrims, Rome raced to provide extra trains, fresh water and thousands of beds. '

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