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Mourners file past pope's body

Cardinals set funeral for Friday


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Mourners pass by the body of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica on Monday.
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VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Thousands of mourners filed past as the body of Pope John Paul II lay in state in St. Peter's Basilica after cardinals Monday began the process of choosing a new leader for the world's 1 billion Catholics.

The doors opened shortly before 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), more than an hour before the Vatican had said they would open. Onlookers were drawn from a crowd, estimated at 70,000 people, in the square outside St. Peter's Basilica.

A steady flow of mourners filed past the late pontiff, with some crossing themselves or using mobile telephones and cameras to take photos as they walked alongside a red, waist-high barrier about 10 feet from the body.

The basilica closed at 3 a.m. Tuesday and reopened about 4:40 a.m., a few minutes ahead of the scheduled time of 5 a.m. It will remain open for 22 hours a day until the pope's funeral Friday, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

The line, however, did not dissipate at all during the closure Tuesday. Those waiting to see the pope merely sat down and waited for the Vatican to reopen. Attendants handed out blankets as temperatures dipped to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius).

On Monday, a solemn procession of red-robed cardinals led the body from the Vatican's Apostolic Palace through St. Peter's Square to the basilica.

Priests walking in front of the cardinals chanted the Litany of the Saints, their voices echoing first through the ornate palace and then across the wide square.

Tens of thousands in the square wept, applauded and strained for a glimpse of the tail-coated "papal gentlemen" -- the Vatican's official escorts -- and the crimson- and white-robed pontiff they bore atop a scarlet platform resting on their shoulders.

Upon arrival at the basilica, the cardinal camerlengo, or chamberlain -- Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo -- read the Liturgy of the Word, the first part of a Mass, after which the papal gentlemen again lifted to their shoulders the platform carrying John Paul II's body and carried it to the ornate room for the public viewing.

Italian authorities said they expect some 2 million people to file through the Vatican and the surrounding streets of Rome in the coming days.

The body will lie in state until a funeral at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) Friday, followed by interment in a crypt below the basilica, the Vatican said.

The funeral announcement ended speculation the Polish-born pope might be laid to rest in his homeland.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate Friday's funeral Mass, Navarro-Valls said.

The first General Congregation of Cardinals met for about two hours Monday at the Bologna Hall of the Apostolic Palace to discuss funeral plans.

Navarro-Valls said the pontiff left no instructions regarding his funeral and burial -- known as a papal will -- so the cardinals decided to follow tradition.

In future congregations, the cardinals must decide when to begin their conclave to select the next pope. The conclave must begin no sooner than 15 days and no later than 20 days after the pope's death.

The 84-year-old pontiff died Saturday from septic shock and cardiocirculatory collapse, the Vatican said. He suffered from a number of chronic illnesses, including Parkinson's disease.

The pope was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920 in Poland. He became pope in October 1978, the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years.

Shortly after the pope's death, a Vatican spokesman said the papal transition process was under way, following procedures the pontiff enacted in 1996. (Full story)

On Sunday, cardinals, archbishops and diplomatic dignitaries solemnly filled the Apostolic Palace's Clementine Hall to privately pay respects to the pope, while others marked his passing outside in St. Peter's Square and around the world. (Full story)

Leaders to attend funeral

Numerous world leaders -- including U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- are expected to attend Friday's funeral.

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday that the president and first lady Laura Bush will fly to Rome on Wednesday. Bush will become the first U.S. president to attend a papal funeral while in office.

Bush told reporters Monday that John Paul II showed that "one man can make a difference in people's lives." (Full story)

He spoke after a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko, who praised the pope before an audience at Georgetown University.

"All his life he was teaching the truth to the world," Yuschenko said. "He was the real foundation for its values. He has gone, but his science and his studies are with us."

In London, Prince Charles' office said his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles has been moved to Saturday so he can attend the the pontiff's funeral. (Full story)

Someone else seeking to attend is Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot the pope in 1981. Agca is now serving time in a Turkish prison for unrelated crimes.

"We are starting the legal procedure to attend," Agca's lawyer, Mustafa Demirbag, told CNN. "He expressed to me over and over that he's very sorry for the death of the pope."

Agca spent nearly 20 years in an Italian prison for the assassination attempt. The pope met with Agca in 1983 and offered forgiveness, and the would-be assassin calls the pontiff his "spiritual brother."

Mourning worldwide

John Paul II traveled widely and reached out to other faiths during his more than 26-year papacy. Condolences echoed across the globe.

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel said that John Paul "will have a very important place in Jewish history" as the first pope to visit a synagogue.

"Never have the relations between Jews and Catholics been as good," Wiesel said.

The pope also has been credited with contributing to the collapse of communist rule in his homeland and across the former Soviet bloc.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Sunday that the pontiff once told him, "Europe must breathe with both its lungs." (Full story)

"I mourn his loss," Gorbachev said. "His devotion to his followers is a remarkable example to all of us." (More world reaction)

In Cuba, President Fidel Castro added his name Monday to the long list of Cubans who have signed a condolence book at the Vatican Embassy. (Full story)

CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Laura Bernardini, Jim Bittermann, Alphonso Van Marsh and Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.


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