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Papal conclave set for April 18

U.S. presidents view pope's body as line is cut off

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush pay their final respects to the pope Wednesday.
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Tens of thousands of people wait in line to view John Paul II's body.

The pope compiled two secret books that set out funeral instructions.

A look at the spiritual and financial value of the Vatican.
Audio Slide Show: Pope in procession

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Some 200 world dignitaries are expected to attend Pope John Paul II's funeral Friday. They include:
  • President Bush and first lady Laura Bush
  • Britain's Prince Charles
  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair
  • Former President Clinton
  • Former President George H.W. Bush
  • U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  • Taiwan President Chen Shui Bian
  • Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia
  • Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
    John Paul II
    Roman Catholicism
    Vatican City
    Rome (Italy)

    VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Mourners by the thousands wound through the streets of Rome with the hope of seeing Pope John Paul II's body Wednesday, and late at night the Vatican prohibited any more people from joining the line.

    Otherwise, officials said, thousands of people would wait in vain to enter St. Peter's Basilica. As of Wednesday, about 2 million people had filed briefly past the body.

    Among the mourners was a U.S. delegation led by President Bush, who arrived Wednesday night with two former presidents, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

    The line was frozen about 10 p.m. (4 p.m. ET), and everyone in the queue at that time was guaranteed of getting into St. Peter's. The wait to see the pope was usually from 10 to 12 hours.

    After the public viewing ends, time will be allowed for private viewing by dignitaries and to prepare the basilica for Friday's funeral.

    Rome officials estimated that 5 million people will have come to the Italian capital city by the time the funeral is over.

    Out of public sight, Roman Catholic cardinals went about the business of preparing to select the pope's successor.

    Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters that the cardinals, in their fourth meeting since the pope's death Saturday, set April 18 for the start of their conclave to select a new pontiff.

    That is a day after the last of nine days of mourning, highlighted by nine requiem Masses that begin after Friday's funeral, Navarro-Valls said.

    One of the 117 cardinals eligible to participate in the conclave -- Jaime Sin of Manila -- may not be able to do so because of illness, the Vatican said.

    Leaders arriving

    Rome prepared for the arrival of some 200 world leaders planning to attend the funeral, and the huge crowds presented a security challenge.

    Bush and other members of a five-person U.S. delegation went to St. Peter's Basilica for a viewing of the pope's body immediately after arriving in Rome Wednesday night. (U.S. delegation)

    Besides the current and former presidents, the delegation included first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

    They arrived shortly after 10 p.m. at the basilica and were escorted through an entrance separate from that used by the public. They knelt at a rail surrounding the body for nearly four minutes, then stood at the pope's foot for a moment before walking away.

    The Italian Interior Ministry said armored vehicles would be provided for world leaders. (Full story)

    Metal detectors were being installed in St. Peter's Square for the funeral, and the number of security forces by Friday was to swell to 15,000, including 1,500 military forces, an official said.

    Mayor Walter Veltroni said all nonessential traffic will be halted in Rome from midnight Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday, with schools and other public buildings closed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

    With hotels full and so many visitors in the ancient city, Veltroni issued "an informal invitation for the citizens of Rome" to allow pilgrims to stay in their homes.

    In addition, officials have turned the site of the Roman Circus Maximus into a free visitors' campground.

    No 'secret cardinal'

    Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, said he was "humbled" but not surprised by the outpouring for the pope.

    "He was a universal pastor, and this is his flock," he said. "It's very, very touching."

    Navarro-Valls said Wednesday cardinals opened and read John Paul's will, but he declined to reveal details. He said an Italian version and the original Polish version would be published Thursday.

    The spokesman said the will was written throughout the course of John Paul's pontificate, with the first entry made in 1979.

    Navarro-Valls also ended speculation about a "secret cardinal," saying that he could "confirm that the Holy Father ... did not give a name for a cardinal" in the will.

    "So there's no further question on this," he said.

    In 2003, when John Paul II last appointed cardinals, he named 30 men and said he was keeping one "in pectore" (in his heart), a practice often used to name cardinals in parts of the world where the church is oppressed. Such a man would not assume the duties of a cardinal until his name was revealed.

    The cardinals eligible to vote for the new pope are those who are under 80. They are to gather for the conclave at the Sistine Chapel.

    A new rule instituted by John Paul II will give the cardinals more freedom to wander the Vatican, but they still cannot talk with anyone outside their peers or receive any communication from outside until they have made a choice. (Election rituals)

    After each vote -- there are to be two per day -- the ballots will be burned, with the smoke rising into a Vatican chimney. Black smoke means no decision was reached; white signals a new pontiff has been chosen.

    John Paul II changed the rules to require that the basilica's bells also ring to announce a new pope. In the past, there has been confusion because the white smoke can appear gray.

    John Paul's burial

    Until John Paul II's funeral at 10 a.m. Friday (4 a.m. ET), the pope's body will lie in state in St. Peter's, where he served as bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years.

    The Vatican said Tuesday the pope would be buried in a grave beneath the basilica that was once occupied by the body of Pope John XXIII. His remains were exhumed and re-entombed on the basilica's main floor in 2001 after he was beatified.

    Cardinals denied a request that the pope's body be carried after the funeral to the nearby Basilica of St. John Lateran, so more people could pay their respects.

    "This is not really possible technically," Navarro-Valls said.

    When he became pope in October 1978, the Polish-born John Paul II was the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years. He died Saturday night at age 84 of septic shock and cardiocirculatory failure, the Vatican said.

    He suffered from several chronic health problems, including Parkinson's disease.

    CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Laura Bernardini, Jim Bittermann, Matthew Chance, Chris Burns, Alphonso Van Marsh, Alessio Vinci and Delia Gallagher contributed to this report.

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