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Pope's Body Lies in State in Apostolic Palace

Aired April 3, 2005 - 07:00   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello from Rome. I'm Bill Hemmer. It is Sunday, April 3, 2005. Pope John Paul II, lying in state in the Apostolic Palace, where a private viewing ceremony is now under way. Official time of death, last evening Rome time at 9:37 p.m., 2:37 in New York City. The world is watching again today.
Hello from Rome, everyone. I'm Bill Hemmer. Welcome to this special edition of CNN's AMERICAN MORNING, as we come to you live again today from Vatican City.

A mass in honor of the pope has just ended. Well over 50,000 people in St. Peter's Square behind me have attended that mass, gathering today. It was quite a scene, and an emotional scene too. So much spirituality felt among the 50,000 who came to honor the life of the man who served as head of the Roman Catholic church for the past 26 years.

The mass has now ended. And now we see the image of Pope John Paul II lying in state for the first time here in Vatican City.

Also with me today, throughout the coverage here, in the Vatican, here's CNN's Aaron Brown, my colleague.

And Aaron, you were on the air late into the night last night. And certainly, when the moment and the news came down, you were there to witness it as well.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we are -- yes, I mean, I think of all the things that you're privileged to report in your life. I don't think any of us who were involved last night will ever forget when the bells began to toll here in Rome. We had known for some time, of course, that the pope had passed.

But that official moment, a moment where a life has officially ended and a ritual that is almost as ancient -- not nearly, but almost as the city itself, it starts to begin.

And we're into that ritual now. The pope's body being viewed in a VIP viewing for lack of a better term, but it's the beginning of a nine-day ritual that will carry the attention of much of the world and will if you will, peak at about the middle of the week, when the dignitaries from around the world assemble in the city for the highest of the high masses that will be held.

And now, a month or so a little less, perhaps, we will know who will succeed John Paul. But for now, we remember a life. And we celebrate a life as we also mourn a passing.

HEMMER: The Apostolic Palace is this brown building, a four- story building that sits high, towering over St. Peter's Square. On that top level is the papal residence. And it is that window that we have seen for so many years, Pope John Paul II, come to that window and bless the pilgrims who gathered here to Vatican City below.

There is a very interesting image that we can see today behind us, Aaron. That's the far right-hand corner. That particular window is his bedroom. And Vatican tradition dictates that those shutters are closed once the pope passes. And inside that building is where the viewing is now taking place.

BROWN: It struck me as a measure of the man, if nothing else, that the pope chose to die at home. In these last difficult days for John Paul, when his health was clearly failing, when a feeding tube was inserted going back a couple of weeks, a tracheotomy, that there was a moment where infection had taken his body. And perhaps doctors would have preferred to take him to the hospital, although there is plenty of medical facility in the Vatican.

But John Paul made clear that he didn't want to go. And so perhaps he knew in what was not an unimportant day to him that his end, his death, which was so much a part of the lessons he taught Catholics, and because he was who he was, non-Catholics as well, that he would die at home quietly in the most dignified of ways. And that's what happened last night in Rome.

There's some, I would say, minor controversy about the precise time of death. The notification came at, I think, at 9:37. We heard at one point yesterday last night that John Paul's death actually happened -- occurred perhaps as much as an hour and a half before that.

But there's a formal procedure that had to take place. And that formal procedure did take place. And in the days ahead, because reporters do what reporters do, we'll find out more detail about those last minutes and those last hours, and who was with him, and hopefully what was said, and how peaceful this historic figure was.

HEMMER: There were already Italian media reports that are indicating that his final record before passing away was "Amen." Unconfirmed, but apparently a very close friend of his from Poland is reporting that.

And throughout the day here, as we continue our coverage, we should get a better idea about those final moments inside the Vatican residence.

John Allen is here too, also with us at the Vatican, our CNN analyst here. John, good afternoon to you.


HEMMER: To give our viewers a better sense, perhaps, of what we can anticipate throughout the day today, and also leading up toward tomorrow, with the congregation of cardinals who are gathered here about 10:30 a.m. local time. And when that happens, we'll get a much better idea of the schedule when the funeral will take place and also the specifics for a burial.

Vatican tradition dictates that opens are buried in Rome. But apparently, this pope may not have it that way. Could it be in Poland?

ALLEN: That's right, Bill. Every pope leaves a last will and testament. And of course, we don't yet know what the contents of John Paul's will may be, but there has long been a sort of belief that he may well want to break with custom. Bear in mind, this is a pope who broke with custom in so many ways.

The old custom used to be that the pope was in Rome and the world came to him. This pope went to 129 nations and so forth. He's not a man afraid to break precedent. He was in some ways, as Shakespeare said, a maker of man.

And I think, therefore, it is entirely possible he may have made the decision to be buried in Poland. We should learn that in the days to come.

HEMMER: Why would we not know that now?

ALLEN: Well, because the pope's will is a private document. Probably the only person on earth, other than the pope himself, who knew what was in that document would be his personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.

And you know, those of us who covered the Vatican, too, you know that the one thing you never pry loose from him are the pope's secrets.

But contents of that document will, of course, become public in the coming days, as we see his wishes being carried out. About half the popes of the Roman Catholic church -- and bear in mind, he was the 263rd successor of St. Peter -- about half of them are buried in the grotto of St. Peter's Basilica, which is the level below the main floor of the basilica. There is a space for his tomb.

We are presuming that after the body lies in state, as least as a temporary matter, it will be taken down to that grotto. Whether it will remain there for all time to come or whether it will be eventually taken to Poland, still up in the air.

BROWN: Let me go back the last six or seven hours. From the moment he died, there is procedure and custom and ritual that goes on. Can you talk through as best history teaches us because I don't know how much reporting you've been able to do here, but as best history teaches us, what has already happened?

ALLEN: Well, one of the first -- the very first thing that would happen would be the medical certification of death. There's a medical certainty the pope is no long alive. Then the Vatican has its own custom for certifying death. The camerlengo, or chamberlain who is the cardinal who governs the church in this interregnum period, what around here is known as the sede vacante, that is the seat of Peter is vacant, the camerlengo would come to the papal apartment if he wasn't already there, and he would perform this brief ritual to ascertain that the pope is dead.

In centuries past, it involved tapping him on the forehead with a silver hammer. That practice was discontinued under John XXIII. What he does is he calls out his baptismal name, Karol, Karol, Karol, three times.

And when, of course, the pope doesn't respond, then the camerlengo pronounces that the pope is dead. Il papa e' morto, in Italian.

And from that moment forward then, some of the logistics kick in. The pope's body will be prepared for exposition during the lying in state. Typically that means that he is embalmed.

In centuries past, although I don't know if this happened last night, in centuries past, the pope's organs are removed. They are taken to a church here in Rome, St. Vincent and Anastazio, the Trevi Fountain, where they're actually preserved.

Whether -- again, whether that happened last night, Aaron, we don't yet know, because of course, it's been difficult to ascertain.

BROWN: Because I ask you these questions all the time. Why? Why preserve the organs? What is the theological history or reasoning?

ALLEN: Well, Aaron, the most important organ, of course, is the heart. And in the world -- in the ancient world and the thought world of the medieval period when this practice grew up, the heart rather than the brain was understood to be the locus of someone's personality.

So the idea is this represents the person, the soul. Of course, Catholics believe the soul is in heaven, but it represents the substance of the pope's personality. And therefore, it deserves an independent place of devotion.

BROWN: And is there a place now where the organs of preceding popes remain stored?

ALLEN: Yes. Again, it's the church of St. Vincent Anastazio, which is a -- one of the old Roman churches that's located near the Trevi Fountain here in the heart of Rome.

BROWN: He's obviously been involved at this point. And we were talking last night at some point, the night was spent at the Sistine Chapel? Again, that's if custom held.

ALLEN: That's what custom dictates. We -- there's been a little bit of confusion this morning about what actually happened. And as you -- as Bill rightly said, we'll find out in days to come.

But yes, that would be the custom. And then, sometime this morning, presumably, if not late last night, the body has been brought to the Sala Clementina in the Apostolic Palace, which is a large reception room where the pope often has very important functions.

For example, when President Bush on his last visit last summer presented the pope with the medal of freedom, that's the room in which the ceremony took place. I've been in that room many, many times, watching the pope deal with heads of states, visiting groups. I was there when he met with almost 100 rabbis just several weeks ago.

BROWN: Is it a grand room?

ALLEN: Yes, it's a grand room. It's a large room with ornate frescos and tapestries. It bespeaks the majesty of the office. And that, of course, is why the pope receives visitors there.

HEMMER: We are watching these images here. And I guess for the lucky ones today at the Vatican, they are able to view the pope lying in state.

And what we have seen is a number of people come up and kneel. Separated by the body with a small rope there, coming up to kneel and pay their last respects of Pope John Paul II.

He is dressed there in crimson vestments, wearing the miter on his head. And he will remain there for several hours. We can say that. But beyond that, it is unclear what the exact schedule will be for when the pope's body is brought to the main basilica, the main church, St. Peter's Basilica behind me here when the public will be allowed then to conduct the viewing there.

We anticipate that, based on what we can tell from the schedule in the past, and what we've been told here in the Vatican, that that should happen sometime on Monday afternoon.

Now the question is, how many people come out here to pay homage to the life of Pope John Paul II? There is one estimate given out about two hours ago. Police in Rome expect 2 million pilgrims to flood this city over the next several days and the weeks to come.

Officially, the Vatican is in a period of mourning. The city of Rome declares three days. The Vatican declares nine days. And then after a period of 15 days, which is essentially two weeks from today, the cardinals will convene in the Sistine Chapel. And then they will begin the very democratic process of gathering together and casting their ballots.

Once a two-thirds majority is reached, the next pope of the Roman Catholic church will be declared. Then all the world will watch to see what sort of smoke rises out of the Sistine Chapel. Will it be treated with this black chemical to give up black smoke, to indicate that a vote has been taken and no pope has come out with a two-thirds majority? Or will it be a white smoke? And the last time we saw the white smoke was in October of 1978, when the pope from southern Poland was elected to head the Roman Catholic church.

I mentioned the mass earlier today. It was extremely moving to be down in that crowd. 50,000 strong and very quiet. Hushed words spoken. Nothing much more than a whisper between those who gathered here today.

And there are four giant video screens set out through the square of St. Peter. And every time there was an image of Pope John Paul II, a small ripple of applause went through the crowd for those gathered below.

Jim Bittermann was there as well. He's back with us again today down on what I guess you could say the street side level just outside of Vatican City.

And Jim, we say good afternoon to you there.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Bill. In fact, on the Via Conciliazione here, this is the broad avenue that leads up to the Vatican, leads from the Vatican to the river here in Rome, that mass took place, as you say, just a few hours ago. It started just a few hours ago and finished a short time, about an hour ago.

Angelo Sodano, the cardinal secretary of state, who is now no longer. I guess we should say the ex-cardinal secretary of state because like all the other Vatican officers, except three, he loses his post with the passing of the pope.

He celebrated the mass this morning. He tried, I think, as best he could to comfort the faithful that came here. In his message, he said life is not taken away, but it's changed. An earthly home may be destroyed, but a more beautiful home is built in heaven. And he said, last night the angel of the Lord passed by the apartments in the Vatican, approached his faithful servant, and lifted him sweetly to the glory of the Lord, constructing a rather refined image there for the Catholic faithful, who gathered in mass this morning.

Now just before that mass started, something we didn't know was happening was happening. And that was in the papal apartments Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the camerlengo, who was one of the key players in this transition period, the cardinal, was in -- the inside the papal apartments, along with several other high church officials and Dr. Renato, who's an (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the pope's physician for the last 26 years.

And together, they officially signed the certificate of death. And the certificate of death was notarized. And that now has -- that part of at least the logistical process has been accomplished.

It was a short after that, that we learned about this official VIP, as it were, lying in state or public viewing, as the Vatican would rather call it, that's taking place now. And what we understand is these very important people here gathered here, the members of the Roman curia, diplomatic corps, politicians -- we saw like Silvio Berlusconi -- will be allowed to view the body up until about 4:00 this afternoon before there is decision taken about moving the body to St. Peter's Basilica for a more public viewing probably late tomorrow -- Bill?

HEMMER: Jim, thanks. Jim Bittermann with us throughout the day here again in Rome. And as we watch the pope's body now in front of a private viewing, a select number of people from the Vatican invited to come and pay their final respects in the Apostolic Palace, which is essentially the residence for the pope, a place where he has lived for the past 26 years of his life, leading the church here.

Also, with me, my colleague Aaron Brown and John Allen, our Vatican analyst here, high above St. Peter's Square.

And you know, John, numbers are so important in the Roman Catholic church. They all mean something. But I'm curious to know about this period of nine days of mourning. Upon what is that based? Why nine days?

ALLEN: Because in ancient Rome, when an emperor would die or when a major public figure, a general who had been -- you know, had accomplished -- had won great battles for the people of Rome, there was a customary nine-day period of mourning, the so-called novem dialis.

And of course, so much of the ritual and procedure of the Roman Catholic church is in a sense an inheritance from ancient Rome. The pope, for example, is known as puntifix, puntifix maximus.

And of course, the puntifix was the priest or the ancient Roman cult. And so, it's an inheritance from the Roman empire.

HEMMER: Interregnum is another Latin word we've come to know. That is the area where we are now officially...

ALLEN: Exactly right. And of course, it means between reigns. That is, the period between the death of one monarch and the election of another.

That is a term, actually, that's sort of in popular use, but the technical church term for where we are is the seda vacante. In other words, it means the seat, the seat of Peter is vacant. And it will remain vacant, of course, until that period when a new pope is elected.

BROWN: And there are some -- the day-to-day business of the church. And in truth, John Paul over the last months has not been able to do a whole lot of the day-to-day business of the church. And then there are important theological things that only a pope can do. Do they wait?

ALLEN: Yes. That's quite right. And then chief among those important things that only a pope can do, for example, is appoint a bishop.

You may have seen that the day before John Paul died, the Vatican actually announced the appointment of 17 bishops and archbishops in various parts of the world. These were nominations that had been in the pipeline. And obviously they, like the rest of us, saw that the end was near. And they wanted to make sure that was done before John Paul passed.

BROWN: To what extent has this -- what we're about to see over particularly the next four days, four or five days or so, to what extent is it been always so from the beginning? Or has it been modified over time as transport became easier, as communications changed, as Catholicism grew? Or is this as it has been?

ALLEN: Well, you know, it all has a feel of eternity about it, doesn't it?


ALLEN: Because we've been living with it for so long, you think it has always been thus.

But in reality, Catholicism is a tradition that is so ancient and so deep, that there are sort of different geological layers, so to speak.

I mean, for example, the custom of the conclave taking place in the Sistine Chapel really dates back to the renaissance, because only to the renaissance. And in Catholic terms, that is an only, by the way...


ALLEN: That's 400 or 500 years as opposed to 2,000 because of course, there had to be a Sistine Chapel before there could be a conclave in it.

As a matter of fact, conclaves have been held outside of Rome in many occasions. The last one was held in Venice during the time of Napoleon.

It wasn't always the cardinals who elected the pope. In the very earliest period, the pope would nominate his own successor. Then it became the people of Rome who by popular acclaim would simply point to a man and say, that's our pope.

BROWN: And when did that end?

ALLEN: That was in the first centuries of the church, the fourth, fifth century roughly. That came to a close.

Then the election became narrowed down to the clergy of Rome, that is the priests who live here in Rome. And remember, Aaron, that each cardinal is titularly, at least, a member of the clergy of Rome. Each cardinal has a particular church in Rome, which is his church . And that's the way of connecting this modern practice to a very ancient custom.

It has only been since roughly the 12th century that the election of the pope has been restricted to the college of cardinals itself.

HEMMER: Some local newspapers here picked up early earlier today in Rome. One of the main newspapers here, "La Stampa," it says essentially in Italian, the world cries for the pope. There's another one, well correct my Italian here, if you could, John. Essentially translates into "our father, who is now in heaven".

ALLEN: Who is in heaven.

HEMMER: Quite appropriate, too.

ALLEN: And that, of course, is a play on the words of the Lord's Prayer. "Our father who art in heaven".

HEMMER: Indeed. You know, when we think about what this pope meant to the world, that's one thing. But when we think about what he meant to this country, it could be an entirely different thing.

And for us to suggest here that Rome has essentially stopped would be misleading our viewers. Granted, in this immediate area here, the Vatican City, all the attention is on the life of Pope John Paul II.

If you get outside this area, though, life goes on. What was his relationship like with the Italian people, not just based on history, but also what his character meant to the people that he served?

ALLEN: Life goes on and it doesn't. The closest thing to a civic religion in Italy after Roman Catholicism is soccer. And actually, even before the pope died, when the pope was still ill, the Italian soccer league made the decision to suspend matches out of a reverence and respect, of course, for this moment.

The thing that's so striking about this, John Paul, of course, is the first non-Italian pope in 450 years. And there was fear when he was elected that it would be difficult for him to establish the kind of close intimate emotional relationship with the people of Rome and people of Italy that an Italian pope could.

The reality is these people embraced this pope from the very first moment like one of his own. And the love relationship, I think, between this pope and the city of Rome and the Italian peninsula is remarkable, especially if you put this in historical standards, that the nation of Italy was born by destroying the papal states.

And it used to always -- which was a swath of territory in central Italy over which the pope ruled as a secular monarch. This was the 19th century. This is not ancient history. The tension between the pope and Rome and the Italian republic has been very deep and very bitter over the years.

Of course, after the Italian government and the Vatican made its peace in the early 20th century, that went away a bit, but it's still there in the background.

HEMMER: But one of his first public appearances back on October 22, 1978, he was speaking Italian.

ALLEN: Yes, in fact...

HEMMER: Is that what makes the biggest impression on the Italian people? Or is it the character of the man?

ALLEN: Well, I think it was both, Bill. But his grasp of Italian, of course, came out of his character. He was a man of the world. He read widely. He spoke many languages. Eight of them fluently and bits and pieces of a dozen others.

When he stepped out onto that central loggia, St. Peters Basilica in October, 1978, his first words were, "I'm going to speak in your"- and then he stopped and said, no, no, no, our language. And if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And from that moment on, the electricity between that man and this people was established.

HEMMER: He could woo a crowd from the very beginning, could he not?

ALLEN: Well, he was an actor, let us not forget, Bill. He had an enormous sense of how to play his part on the stage. The just right gesture, the just right phrase. That's why we've called him over the years the great communicator. And he was marvelous to watch.

BROWN: It's a warm Sunday, early afternoon here in Rome. The pope's body lies in state for a select group of have visitors. So begins a series of events that will play out before, certainly, the largest audience who has ever witnessed anything, John, like this.

We talked the other day about, that for half the world's population -- just think about this for a second -- not half the Catholics in the world. Half the people in the world have known but one pope in their life, this pope, John Paul.

And this is a pope who understood how mass communications had changed the world and how the papacy itself had to change because of mass communication. And these ancient rituals will be broadcast to every corner of the world in much the same way that John Paul himself visited every corner of the world.

And in some cases shifted the balance of cardinals to other parts of the world. John told me yesterday that of the 117...

ALLEN: That's right.

BROWN: ...117 cardinals who will elect the next pope, all but three were selected by John Paul. And that is one way a pope leaves his mark on the church.

ALLEN: Yes, that's absolutely right, although it would be a mistake to infer from that that therefore these 117 cardinals are going to elect a man exactly like John Paul II. In fact, what history shows us is that colleges of cardinals appointed entirely by one pope, almost always elect a different kind of man as his successor.

The logic for that being that what they're looking to do at the end of a very long pontificate, is to some extent, complete its unfinished business and correct what they would see as some of its weak points.

We almost get a surprise. You know what the Italians say, Aaron, is that you always follow fat pope with a thin one. The idea is you always get change.

BROWN: And if they were to correct the errors or finish the unfinished business, not specifically who -- I've promised you, in fact, that I will not, as tempted as I may be, ask you ever who is the likely successor because one of the things that John Paul seems to me taught us is that such talk is foolishness.

They will do the business that they intend to do for the reasons they intend to do it. And we'll try and figure out the whys of it as we go along.

But do we have a sense because John Paul, in fact, changed the papacy, of the kind of person they'll see? Will they want a public pope, a pope who goes to rather than waits for the world to come?

ALLEN: Well, to some extent, I think that's part of the unpredictability of this. There are some cardinals, I think, who believe -- well I don't think. I know, based on our conversations, that this pope perhaps traveled a bit too much...

BROWN: Really?

ALLEN: ...was perhaps a bit too much of a public figure in the sense that the price of doing that, obviously, every leader has to choose. De Gaulle once said that -- to govern is to choose.

This pope chose to be an evangelist to be on the road, to take his message to the people. And the price of that was that he didn't spend proportionately as much time working on the internal affairs of the church, leaving that largely in the hands of his aides on many issues. Some cardinals believe the next pope ought to be, in the balance, that has to be struck, a bit more attentive.

BROWN: How would those of us who are not experts on this nearly see that deficiency? What is it -- if you don't spend time working on the internal affairs of the church, what is it that doesn't happen?

ALLEN: Well, to take one recent example, a very painful episode in the history of the American Catholic church, would of course be the sex abuse crisis.

BROWN: Right.

ALLEN: I mean, what you had was bishops whose, in some bishops we need to say in fairness, who were not as attentive as they should have been to what was happening with their clergy.

And of course, to get a bishop to change practice, you need a pope.

HEMMER: This is a city that's beautiful when it's raining. And when it's 65 and sunny with blue skies, it's an absolutely stunning place. And I think the world is going to see the beauty of Rome again, and the beauty of the greatest structures ever to rise under the Italian renaissance from 400 or 500 years ago. And that's right here in Vatican City.

The room we're watching now, the Apostolic Palace is a stunning location. Is it frescoes? Are they murals? Are they paintings? Whatever is inside that room, and you've been there, John, perhaps you can give our viewers a better guide as to what we're seeing?

ALLEN: Well, again, the room is called the Sala Clementine. They named it after (UNINTELLIGIBLE), who commissioned some of the work. That's typical in the Apostolic Palace. Rooms are typically made after popes who did something significant for that room.

For example...

HEMMER: Let me stop you right -- how big is the Apostolic Palace? I mentioned four stories. Is it bigger than that?

ALLEN: No, no. It's the -- of course, the viewers can probably see it over our shoulder. It's that beige building looming in the background.

And in terms of square meters, I don't know, but it is an enormous place. Let me tell you that when I and my colleagues in the press corps have gone up to the top floor to be in the pope's apartment when he receives a dignitary, as we have gone up the stairs, we have very carefully tried to follow our progress on maps to figure out precisely where we were.

None of us can do it. It's a very complex building. But it is an enormous space.

The room that the pope's body is in right now, as I said, is the Sala Clementina. It's often used for papal audiences, not with masses of people for the Wednesday general audience, but for special meetings.

HEMMER: So then when President Bush, for example, would fly to the Vatican and meet and have his private audience with the pope, that's where it would take place?

ALLEN: Yes. And as you say, it is an ornately decorated room, with frescoes and tapestries. And of course, all of that is intentional. It's intended to remind you of the deep historical roots of this institution and the majesty of the papacy.

I would say that a room like that, Bill, is probably the best home court advantage that any world leader can possibly ask for. HEMMER: I imagine you're right about that.

BROWN: Who are the people who -- we've talked about VIPs have come in. Are these all religious people today who will come view the body? Are there local politicians here in Rome? Italian prime minister come by today? Who gets the invitation if you will?

ALLEN: Well, we presume that even sort of towards the front of the line would be the Roman nobility, particularly the so-called black nobility.

These are ancient Roman noble families that in that tussle between the Italian state and the papacy we talked about, sided with the pope. And have therefore have had traditional privilege of being sort of closest to the flame.

Beyond that then would be the cream of the Italian political crop. We saw this morning at the funeral, Prime Minister -- President Ciampi, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the minister of the foreign affairs and John Fradancofini (ph). All of them.

I saw Pierre Fassini, who was one of the leaders of the Italian left weeping as the funeral was proceeding. And we'd presume, of course, that all of those VIPs would, of course, be coming through the Sala Clementina embassy, the pope lying in state as well.

BROWN: Have important words been said today?

ALLEN: Yes. You know, Aaron, what happens and of course in some ways, the wound of the loss of the pope is so fresh, that it almost seems a little bit disrespectful to be talking too much about what comes next, but of course, inevitably life goes on.

And the next major moment in the life of the Catholic church will be the election of the pope. And so, what those of us who watch this unfold, because so much of the politics goes on behind closed doors, we tend to hang very much on all the public words that are spoken.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the secretary of state an affect the pope's prime minister, delivered a homily at the mass we saw this morning.

And it was striking to me, Aaron, when you know which code words to listen for in these things.

BROWN : Yes.

ALLEN: How Cardinal Sodano repeatedly used the Italian word speranza, which means hope. That John Paul II was a man of hope, that John Paul like the word of God himself, Cardinal Sodano said, came not to judge humanity, but to save it.

Very much striking an optimistic hopeful tone. I think that's probably one clue to the kind of man at least Cardinal Sodano would be looking for.

BROWN: Is that to begin the process of framing a legacy?

ALLEN: Well, I think it's both to frame the legacy of John Paul II. But it is also in a kind of indirect way to set the stage for the kind of man needed to follow him.

HEMMER: You said two things there, John. I just want to contribute because we're just -- we're hearing some things on the wires as we scan them, as we go throughout our broadcast here.

There's word from Dublin, Ireland today from a guy by the name of Bono, the front man for U2. He was quoted as saying that Pope John Paul II was the best front man the Catholic church ever had. A great show man, a great communicator of ideas, even if you did not agree with all of them, a great friend to the world's poor. And that is how we remember him again today.

The other thing you mentioned were the tears. And if you go down to the square with the Vatican today, and if you talk to the people who have gathered here today, I mentioned this yesterday, when you ask them what the man meant to them, and why they came here today, almost to a person, they will pause first, before they give you an answer. Almost as if they're reflecting on his life.

And earlier today, I was talking with a priest from New York City, in fact. And with tears in his eyes, he said the whole world loves the pope, whether you agree with him or not.

ALLEN: Yes, Cardinal Roberto Tucci, who has organized virtually all the pope's trips, was once asked how Catholics in the developed world, at least, perceive the pope. And Cardinal Tucci's answer was I have the impression that they like the singer, but not the song. Meaning that they may not necessarily agree with every element of his program, but they loved the man.

BROWN: That's actually an incredible quality in someone to -- and this is a man whose reach extended beyond those of his faith. This is a man who had import beyond the world of theology. This is a man who could -- the word charisma sounds somehow sort of inelegant or almost crass in this moment, unless you spent a moment in his presence.

And by that, I don't mean a small audience. I mean in a stadium where he was. You and I talked yesterday about when I saw him the two times, once in Fairbanks as a young man and in Havana when he was much older.

And his ability to -- and it's the rarest of traits among humans, I believe, to look out on a crowd, a crowd of 100,000 people or more, and to be in that crowd and to believe somehow, and you do believe it, he is looking directly at you.

ALLEN: Yes, that's absolutely right. I mean, the pope was a great believer and a great lover of people. I mean, he had this capacity to connect almost instantaneously.

I recall, Aaron, the first time I met him man to man, so to speak, was on the papal plane coming back from Kazakhstan. And each of the journalists were brought up. And we had a couple of minutes to sit next to the pope in his front row seat, of course, in the papal plane.

This is a man, by that stage, I had written probably a million words about, had covered him either directly or indirectly for years. And I had sort of expected that I would have something magnificent to say to him.

And when I sat down for the first time in his presence, all I could choke out was "it's a pleasure to meet you." And I was obviously struggling for words after that. And the pope leaned over me and patted me on the arm and said "It's OK."

BROWN: Well, I told this story last night and I'll tell it again, about a young man, a middle-aged man I met yesterday. And he -- when he was 14, he had the opportunity to meet the pope. And if -- an experienced and hard boiled reporter like John gets a little flustered at a moment like that, you can imagine what that sort of moment's like for a 14-year-old.

And so he is presented to the pope, this young man. And he, as he tells me the story, he's shaking inside and out. And the pope extends his hand, as the pope does. And the young man is expected, in the ritual of the church to kiss the pope's ring.

And he is so terribly, terribly nervous. And so he -- the pope sticks out his hand. And the young man sticks out his and gives him a handshake. And the pope breaks into this broad smile and kind of cups him on the back of the head and gives him a hug, which is, I think, the equivalent of saying to a 14-year-old, "I know, I know."

ALLEN: Absolutely. I mean, and this was not just a kind of, you know, personal touch of a kind of award healer or politician, that capacity to look at one person and slap another on the back and kiss a baby at the same time.


ALLEN: This was a man who meant it. And I think that's what people saw in him.

Going back to that business about liking the singer and not the song, I think in this world, we can always disagree with one another. But if we look at another person and we see someone of integrity, someone, you know, who was a man for others in a me-first world, someone who meant what he said, I think that garners almost universal respect, acclaim and affection. And it's that affection we're seeing play out all around the world today.

HEMMER: 7:30 back in New York City on a Sunday morning. It's about 1:30 here in Rome, Italy. We are high above the Vatican today. And the pope is now being viewed, his body lying in the Apostolic church -- the Apostolic Palace, I should say, in the area of the building across the square behind us. And we do know a number of people have come to view his body today. A select number of people chosen by the Vatican to get the first chance to pay their final respects to Pope John Paul II.

It appears, based on the information we had earlier today, even going back to yesterday before the announcement of his death, that this schedule is working faster than we had previously imagined. It took us all a bit by surprise just about an hour ago when on Vatican television, we saw the pope's body for the first time again inside the Apostolic Palace.

He is clad in crimson vestments, wearing a bishop's miter on his head. You can see the rope that keeps the partition between the pope's body and also those coming to kneel at his feet for one final time.

You will also see the Swiss guards, charged with protection, security, guarding the Vatican for so many hundred years here. And you will see these Swiss guards throughout the entire ceremony for today and into the lying in state when the public comes to view the pope, which we anticipate, based on again the schedule we were given and thought we were given earlier today, that that would happen about Monday afternoon Rome time.

And oftentimes, you will also see the Swiss guards rather change and shift their position, just like you would see at any state funeral for any leader around the world when it has come for their time to end through their earthen journey here.

Pope John Paul II, 84-years old. The official time of death given by the Vatican last evening at 9:37 p.m. And as we go throughout the day here, we may get more word from the Vatican regarding a possible statement about the final moments of his life.

There were some indications telling us that there was a mass said again yesterday, which would have meant two masses said in his presence on the final day yesterday, April 2, 2005.

Also, some reports indicating the pope is looking out of his bedroom window at the pilgrims who had gathered down below. But again, when that word becomes official from the Vatican, we will have it here.

Now on this Sunday morning, we anticipate the first congregation of cardinals, the first official meeting for the cardinals to take place on Monday. Vatican law dictates that it takes place at 10:30 a.m. local time on Monday.

It is during that meeting that all the rules will be set out for the schedule for the rest of the week, meaning we will get more information on a funeral, which is said to take place sometime between the fourth and the sixth day of the pope's passing. And then we'll get more information on the conclave, which is set to take place no sooner than 15 days after the pope dies.

But again, as we mention this here in Rome, anything can change, based on this schedule. And Aaron Brown is with me too. And so is John Allen, our Vatican analyst.

Am I right to say, John, that this schedule appears to be moving quicker than before? Or were you surprised, like I was, when we saw the pope's body about an hour ago?

ALLEN: Well, to tell you the truth, having covered John Paul II for as long as I have and in many ways I feel he's still with us, this has been the pope of surprises. I'm surprised by nothing.

I remember when we were in Greece, for example, in 2001, and then the Greeks were asking will the pope apologize for the fourth crusade. And I said, no, no way. It's not going to happen. An hour later, it happened.

So I've learned from hard experience, you know, not to be too dogmatic to use a church term about these things. I do think, however, what has happened in the last 72 hours, taking in view the last few days of the pope's life and now again today, there has been a remarkable amount of disclosure of information and an openness that is a real departure from what is sort of typical Vatican practice. And I think that reflects not merely the sort of hunger of the world to know as much as we can. I think it reflects also a personal touch from John Paul.

I'm sure he communicated to his aides that he wanted his death, as his life had been, to be a teaching moment.

HEMMER: But you're not suggesting that the walls are now coming down at the Vatican here?

ALLEN: No, of course not, Bill. This has all has been -- this is transparency and openness by Vatican standards.

BROWN: There's actually a -- there's a story you told us last night. One of the things if you do this for a living, you don't want to do, is misreport the death of someone. You don't want to misreport the death of anyone. And you do not want to misreport the death of the pope. That would be a very hard thing to live down, an embarrassing thing to experience if such a mistake were made.

And yet, how did the official notification to the inter circle of reporters -- came how?

ALLEN: Well, you know, a number of years ago, Joaquin Navarro- Valls, who is the Vatican spokesperson, set up this system where if he had something urgent to say, he would send a text message to your cell phone telling you there's an e-mail for you with a text attachment. And you open up that text attachment and there's the declaration.

Now over the years, Aaron, the truth is that system has worked sometimes and not others. I mean, I've had experiences where urgent things bumped around in cyberspace for 48 hours before they arrived.

So we all didn't really believe that it was going to work. And we had spent months trying to figure out how we would actually learn in the first moment the pope was dead. And in the end, miracle of miracles, the thing worked.

BROWN: So an e-mail was sent out.

ALLEN: Yes, a text message on the cell phone arrived, saying there is an urgent declaration from Navarro-Valls. And then of course in this climate, we knew what that urgent declaration was.

And it arrived shortly after 9:37 Rome time, when the pope is said to have passed on.

BROWN: And at that moment, which is at about the moment that I heard about it, I guess, and my first reaction was, as my first reaction tends to be in these sorts of things, are we absolutely sure. You were absolutely sure.

ALLEN: Yes, because I, of course, received these things many times before. And I can distinguish authentic from unauthentic. It was crystal clear to me that this was the authentic message from Navarro-Valls.

BROWN: And even before that point, really over the last 72 hours or so, the change in tone in the Vatican was notable in not just the amount of information, but the emotion with which that information was given out.

ALLEN: Yes, from March 11, when the pope was still in the Gemelli Hospital to March 30, there was not one bulletin, not one. Not one official scrap of information from the Vatican at all.

Beginning with the notice that the pope was receiving nutrition from a -- with the feeding tube, on the other hand, it changed dramatically.

And I recall the first day, when the crisis was upon us, at 12:30, there was a briefing with Dr. Navarro-Valls. This is a man who's worked with the pope for more than 20 years, a close, intimate aide, who delivered the information that the pope's condition was very grave.

And at the end, we saw Navarro-Valls tear up and walk away from the podium. This is a man -- this is the coolest customer I'd ever known, Aaron. I have seen that man in situations that would fluster the best of us. And he has never lost his poise or his composure.

When I saw him tear up, I didn't necessarily take the bulletin at face value. I took that at face value. I knew that the end was near.

BROWN: I think all of us, actually, about midweek, it was Thursday, I guess, I think we all sort of knew that we were in the final days. And maybe that would be 24 hours or maybe it would be three or four days.

But I think all -- we all knew, just from the tone that was coming out of the Vatican, this was not another illness. This was the final illness of someone who had survived an awful lot, particularly over the last 23 years or so since the assassination attempt.

And so when the announcement was made last night, it wasn't a sense of shock. There was no sense of surprise at what we heard and what we began reporting.

But there was, and for a non-Catholic, and I suspect this is true of hundreds of my colleagues and millions of citizens around the world who are not Catholic, there was a tremendous sense of sorrow that we were telling the final chapter of one of the great stories and one of the most important stories of our lifetime.

Now this final chapter goes on for some days, but it began in mid evening yesterday when the bells tolled here in Rome. And it was an unforgettable moment for all of us.

HEMMER: We lost a good one. He came here to Rome to make a difference. And every minute of his papacy, he set out to do just that.

The crowd that's gathered on St. Peters Square was very large just about 90 minutes ago, that had gathered there for a mass -- the requiem mass, the repose of Pope John Paul II's soul.

Vatican law dictates that there will be a mass every day during this period of mourning, that we mentioned earlier will last about nine days.

And the crowd has thinned a little bit since then, but we do anticipate throughout the day to trickle in and trickle out. That crowd down there will ebb and flow. And then perhaps a few days from now, we'll start to see the true wave of pilgrims who will descend upon Italy as we get ready for the funeral, which should take placed, based on the schedule we have, perhaps Wednesday at the earliest and no later than Friday.

And being down there in the square earlier today, very stunning to see the children who come out.


HEMMER: You can see the father who picks up his 10-year-old son and puts him on his shoulder so he can see everything out there in front of him. You can see the other father pointing to his daughter at all the statues that align, what I consider the great arms of Vatican City.

If you take an aerial shot of the Vatican, you can see the Basilica. And many people think that that is the body of God, essentially.

And then you have these giant columns that reach out, almost like they're two big arms around Vatican City, around the square, almost like God is taking the children of the world into his arms.

And many people talk about that here at the Vatican, whether it's on a tour or whether it's through some sort of religious pilgrimage. Or as you say as a non-Catholic -- I happen to be a Catholic, but it's still an amazingly moving time I think for humanity to come here and to look at the reactions and the faces of people and to listen to the music that is so beautiful and stunning. And it rings throughout Vatican City.

BROWN: I wonder, because I tend to wonder a lot, there are 100,000 people at various points here last night. There will be several million people over the days ahead.

But in every corner of the world in small churches on the plains of Kansas, where you grew up, or Catholic churches and non-Catholic churches as well, in cities in Minnesota, where I grew up and in Cincinnati, where you grew up, and in countries in Africa and countries in South America, and countries across Europe and Asia, people will gather today on this Sunday.

And first in their thoughts, whether they're Catholic or not, I suspect, will be this man and this moment, which speaks to his power and his papacy and to modern media, its ability to bring moments like this around the world.

So while there's a kind of physical representation that we can show you behind us of people who gather, it is by no means the measure of this moment.

As you were talking, Bill, I thought, you know, if I had my daughter here, and last night I wish I had, I'd absolutely would have taken her down there so that she could say -- and I'm not even sure why such things are important -- so that she could say on the day that Pope John Paul died, I stood at St. Peter's.

It places you in some respects no closer than it places our viewers, but it puts you among something.

HEMMER: It's not an understatement to say that he is the most significant religious figure of our lifetime.

BROWN: Oh...

HEMMER: Certainly the last half of the last century.

ALLEN: He's almost undoubtedly the single figure who has been seen by the largest number of people in person in the history of the planet.

HEMMER: You know, that's interesting you say that. The Vatican puts out this figure. If I think I have it right. They say he has touched or come into contact with 60 million people during his 26 years. Is that possible?

ALLEN: Well, it's very possible. Actually, if you want my opinion, I think that's something of an underestimate.

But I mean, if you consider that during his trip to Mexico in 1979, if you count the people along the route to the mass site and at the mass, there were some 9 or 10 million. HEMMER: Wow.

ALLEN: When he was in Manila, there are 4 million. When he was in Poland the last time, there were 2 million. When he was in Ukraine, there was more than a million.

I mean, the thing about this is, Bill, there are some events, there's a Hindu festival bathing in the Ganges every year that attracts about 10 million people. There are maybe 2 million people who came to the funeral of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

There is no one in human history who has ever with the regularity of John Paul, drawn those kinds of numbers. I mean, he was an absolute magnet for humanity.

HEMMER: Small crowd for him and a mass of 500,000.

ALLEN: Yes. I mean, and the remarkable thing about this is, it wasn't just Catholics. You know, I was with the pope, for example, when he went to Azerbaijan. Bear in mind, there are all of 120 Catholics in Azerbaijan. I actually did a piece running the numbers. It would have been four times less expensive to fly all of them to Rome than to bring the pope to Azerbaijan.

HEMMER: Stop right there. We're going to throw out a lot of countries and a lot of trips over the past 26 years. What did he believe as a -- crusader is not the right word here -- what did he believe in terms of his own commitment to spreading the Catholic word, not just the word of God or the word of Jesus, but the Catholic word to every corner that would take him?

ALLEN: I think the right word, rather than crusader, is apostle. The pope had a sense of himself as not just the successor of St. Peter, but to some extent, the successor of St. Paul. That was the great evangelizer of the urban church, who took his show on the road, so to speak, in order to spread the faith.

I think John Paul had the sense that this was a world, the sort of secular post Christian, post religious world was badly in need of hearing the word of God. And if they weren't going to come to him, then he was going to go to them. And I think that was the first instinct.

The second instinct, we talked earlier, Aaron, about this pope's love of people.


ALLEN: And this was a man who simply loved to be with people. I once said that actually, if you wanted to hasten his end, the most dire thing you could do to him would be to strap him into a chair in the Vatican and not let him come out, because for him, that was awful.

I mean, he wanted to be with the people. I was talking to Cardinal James Stafford the other night, an American here in the Vatican, who is telling me that in Toronto at World Youth Day in 2002, we had a horrible rainstorm that morning of the mass.

The pope was in the popemobile on his way to the mass site. And he ordered the windows of the pope mobile down. And Stafford said to him, but your holiness, it's raining. He said I know that, but they need to see me and I need to see them.

And he went along the whole route with water absolutely pouring into the pope mobile. And he was about 15 minutes late coming on to the stage because they had to bring him dry vestments before he could walk out, because he was soaked to the bone. But that's how important it was to him to be present to the people.

BROWN: It's hard to imagine, in the world I guess the president of the United States would come close, a job that is potentially more claustrophobic in a sense than the papacy.

The president and the first lady can and, in fact, do go to friends houses for dinner, go to restaurants. And there's -- goodness knows elaborate security takes place.

But it's not like the pope, from moment he becomes pope, has in public at least any semblance of a regular life. I said to you only half kiddingly last night, I wonder if on a Sunday afternoon, like much of the rest of the planet, he flips on a soccer game. Or -- I mean, because he's not just one thing. He's, like, all of us, he's many things.

And I think his overwhelming desire to get out among people is part of that overwhelming desire to break the bonds of claustrophobia that the job itself imposed on a man who was a wonderful skier, and a wonderful athlete, and who loved theater and so many other things.

ALLEN: Yes, you know, there's a wonderful poetic art, the beginning and the end of this papacy, that I don't think anyone has noticed yet. Speaking at this point of how much the pope was a breaker of custom and how he wasn't shackled by protocol from being present, when he first walked out onto that central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, to deliver his first greeting after being elected pope, there was a moment when he had delivered the blessing when the chief organizer of ceremony, a cardinal by the name of Regilio Nole (ph), leaned in and took him by the arm as if to say holy father, it's time to go now.

The pope brushed him aside and went on to speak directly to the people. Last Easter -- last Sunday, rather -- Easter Sunday, when the pope was at that window for 12 minutes and 17 seconds, struggling mightily to speak, there were two moments when his aides came up and attempted to roll him back. He brushed them away and said I'm going to be here with these people -- the beginning and the end.

HEMMER: You may be seeing on your video monitors there at home now on television sets around the world for that matter. The Swiss guards paying their own respects now.

They were -- they guard the body essentially in pairs, two at a time. And they will switch off between now and the point which the pope's body is moved again.

And John, we mentioned yesterday or rather tomorrow, we anticipate the lying in state to become official. I don't think technically they consider this lying in state. It's perhaps paying last respects in the Apostolic Palace.

But when the body is then transferred to St. Peter's Basilica, which by the way, is as stunning, stunning piece of architecture. They can hold up to 60,000 people at one time. This is where you find Catholics believe the remains of St. Peter entombed below the altar.

One of the finest works of art in the entire world of Michelangelo's "Pieta" is just inside, off to the right. And when the public comes into this basilica, this will be another scene for the world to see in a way that we have not seen this church for -- I guess you have to go back to the late 1970s in 26 years.

ALLEN: That's right, 1978, the last papal death, of course.

There were two -- of course, as you know, there were actually two popes who died in 1978, Paul VI. 33 days later, John Paul I.

The only thing that would come close, Bill, is that a couple of years ago, the Vatican was renovating the grotto, below -- the level below the main floor of the basilica. And they brought the body of Pope John XXIII, known as good pope John, up. And they laid it in state for about a day and a half inside the basilica.

And of course, John XXIII was loved around the world, especially here in Italy. There was a massive, massive, massive turnout of humanity to see the body of the pope.

HEMMER: Massive meaning millions?

ALLEN: Hundreds of thousands, I would say. I would expect the turnout this time will, of course, exceed even that.

But it is amazing to watch the magic of this office, the office of the papacy, to someone who knows how to use it. I'm reminded of a famous American Baptist minister once said of John Paul II, this is a pope who knows how to pope.

Both John XXIII and John Paul II knew how to pope. And if you know how to use this office, how to use it as a tool of teaching, but also as a tool to communicate the faith, hope and love upon which the tradition is based, your capacity to connect with people, to form bonds that aren't just political, aren't just partisan, but are deeply emotional, with masses of humanity, is magic.

And that is what we'll be seeing when the body is on state and those crowds file past to pay their respects.

HEMMER: Aaron asked you earlier, I'm kind of curious myself too, how do you get an invite today? Who is there kneeling and paying respects? Cardinals or more than that? ALLEN: There will be high ecclesiastical dignitaries, of course. But this is a VIP viewing. And the classes we can be sure would be there. But again be the black nobility that is the Roman noble families loyal to the papacy to this century.

The cream of the crop of the Italian political life -- any other political dignitaries who have already arrived in Rome, perhaps in preparation for a funeral.

Select others who had some particular connection or relationship with the pope over the years. Obviously, we would expect his closest Polish collaborators, for example, to be in that room today inside the Sala...

HEMMER: You're going to throw out a lot of things at us. And we're going to probably stop you oftentimes and ask you for better clarification. Who's the black nobility?

ALLEN: The black nobility would be -- there is in Italian custom, there is a white nobility and a black nobility. These are ancient noble, Roman noble families, who down through the centuries sort of tussled for domination in Rome.

The white nobility, during the 19th century battles, between the new Italian republic and the papacy, they sided with the Italian republic, the black nobility with the papacy.

Hence, in these kinds of things, although those battles are long dead now of course. But in these kind of things, they still enjoy a kind of ceremonial privilege because well, to put it bluntly, they were on the right side.

BROWN: The winners write history.

There was -- before this moment, there were -- there was a more -- there were more private moments where those who had most closely worked with John Paul, those who tended to him most closely on a day- to-day basis were with him. That would have been last night, perhaps early this morning. How large a circle of people are we talking about that surrounds the pope?

ALLEN: Well, his most intimate circle would be made up of a very small number of people. You're talking about one archbishop, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was his personal secretary. Father Metic (ph), another Pole, who is a priest, who is Dziwisz's number two to so to speak.

And then you're talking about four or five Polish nuns from Krakow, who on effect, administered the domestic side of the papal household.

And the most important of which was Sister Tobiana, who probably appears off to the right in about 10,000 photos of the pope, because whenever he traveled, whenever he moved, she was always in the background with him, often seen carrying that black bag in later years, after the onset of the Parkinson's in which the pope's medicine was contained.

So that very small group was certainly at his bedside when death came and undoubtedly would have been given a few private moments to pay their final farewell to this man who they loved so deeply.

BROWN: So you're really talking about a dozen, between a dozen and two dozen?


BROWN: People who were -- who would be the inner of inner circles? This is not so much an official group, as a personal group, the people he was most comfortable with? I'm struck by the number, just listening to you, the number of Poles in that group. So in that sense, he stayed close to his roots.

ALLEN: Yes, as every pope does. I mean, for example, when a pope from Venice has been elected, the last time it was John Paul I, he of course brought his intimate retinue from Venice. It's more striking, of course, when they're from outside the peninsula in the case of John Paul II.

HEMMER: John, you're not going far. And neither are we, because our coverage is going to continue on this Sunday, live above Vatican City for an awful long time.

And in a moment here, we're going to bring you up to date on everything that's been happening and everything we anticipate happening as well.

The images you're seeing here, Pope John Paul II being viewed now by various select group of people. And we expect this viewing to continue for several hours. And again, this is not the official lying in state. We expect that to happen sometime late on Monday afternoon.

And as far as the firm schedule of what we can anticipate later today and again into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, because I'm certain a lot of people are quite curious as to when the funeral will take place.

Based on Vatican law, that will happen no sooner than Wednesday of this coming week. In no later than Friday this coming week. But all that information should become official about 24 hours from now, when the first meeting of the cardinals gets together here in Rome.

And just quickly, one more time here to John Allen, is it quite likely they've already set this schedule up and it's just waiting for an official announcement tomorrow?

Or do they need an approval of a group of cardinals to come here and say OK, this is good with us. And let's go with it.

ALLEN: Well, obviously, I have a general game plan, which is what you just rolled out. But the specific decisions have to be made in that meeting of the first general congregation of the cardinals on Monday. HEMMER: OK. John, thanks.


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