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Cardinals Meet as Thousands Pay Tribute

U.S. Delegation to Include Former Presidents Bush, Clinton

By Daniel Williams and Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 5, 2005; 12:23 PM

VATICAN CITY, April 5 -- Cardinals gathered in deep secrecy Tuesday as they prepared for a mammoth funeral for Pope John Paul II and afterwards the start of their deliberations to choose his successor.

Although they gathered within Vatican walls for two hours, the cardinals failed to set a date for the electoral conclave, said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

Thousands of mourners stand in line to view Pope John Paul II as Cardinals gathered in deep secrecy to prepare a vote for his successor. (Christopher Furlong - Getty Images)

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In Washington, meanwhile, the White House announced that the U.S. delegation to John Paul's funeral Friday would consist of President Bush and his wife Laura, former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Bush said Tuesday that his attendance at the services would "pay our country's respect to a great world leader."

"He shows that one man can make an enormous difference," Bush said during a Social Security speech in Parkersburg, W. Va. "I look forward to honoring the memory of Pope John Paul II."

Bush will be the first sitting president to attend a pope's funeral.

In Warsaw, at least 150,000 people turned out for a farewell Mass for the Polish-born pontiff, gathering Tuesday at the square where he once rallied the nation to fight communist rule, the Associated Press reported.

Poles from President Aleksander Kwasniewski to soldiers and schoolgirls in uniform filled Pilsudski Square in downtown Warsaw to say goodbye to a man considered a national hero.

Others will bid farewell in person -- many thousands of Poles are expected to travel to Rome for John Paul's funeral on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said.

The conclave to select a new pope has to begin between 15 and 20 days following the death of the pope. There was no word of what the cardinals said during Tuesday's meeting -- all have been sworn to secrecy.

Navarro-Valls offered several cryptic answers to straightforward questions. When asked if the pope's body has been embalmed, he said, "It has not been embalmed, but it has been prepared because it will be a few days in the basilica."

He had no word on how much the funeral would cost.

A few mysteries remained at large without explanation.

Three days after the pope died, his will has not been read. Navarro-Valls said the pope had not expressed a desire to be buried anywhere but at the Vatican, but he did not explain how he knew that if no will had been read.

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