On Thursday, the interregnum produced its first controversy: The Vatican announced that Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the former archbishop of Boston, will deliver a homily Monday at a special post-funeral Mass. His handling of a scandal involving priestly sex abuse forced him from his old post, and his selection for a role regarded as an honor triggered protests from opponents in Boston.
On the eve of the funeral, St. Peter's Basilica was finally cleared of mourners, many of whom waited 12 hours to view John Paul's body for a few seconds. They came from as far away as Australia and the United States, but most were Italian and many of those traveled from the less well-off south of Italy, where pilgrimage to shrines and veneration of saints is a popular tradition.
Poles march silently through Krakow en route to a massive open-air Mass marking the end of a national mourning period for the Polish-born pope.
(Michael Robinson-chavez -- The Washington Post)
Rome police, known for flexibility, at one point closed access to the line into the basilica, then on Friday reopened it. "My feet hurt so much," said Angelina Orza, from the southern city of Salerno, as she sipped bottled water after her ordeal in line. "But I would take twice the pain to do it again. I'm going to the funeral, too."
Rome police hurried with security preparations. "We have no time to be afraid," said Police Chief Marcello Fulvi. Police "do not have precise signals" of a terrorist threat, he added.
Armed helicopters circled overhead. Cars were banned from parts of the city beginning at 2 a.m. Friday. Hidden cameras scanned St. Peter's Square and other plazas and bridges across the city. About 8,000 security agents were dispatched to safeguard the funeral, including 1,400 plainclothes officers in the streets.
"It's the largest funeral in the history of the world. I can't get that through my head, but that's what we're witnessing here," McCarrick said.
Diplomatic tensions broke out Thursday when the Italian government provided Taiwanese officials with visas to attend the funeral, leading China to cancel plans to send a representative. China considers the self-governing island to be part of its territory.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, landed in Rome to attend the rites, despite a travel ban against him imposed by the European Union. Italian officials said the prohibition does not apply to dignitaries traveling to Vatican City, which is a sovereign state and not an E.U. member.
President Bush dined with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who brought up the March 4 wounding of journalist Giuliana Sgrena at a Baghdad roadblock by U.S. soldiers, who also killed an Italian intelligence agent who had obtained the journalist's freedom from kidnappers. Bush expressed regrets, his spokesman said. Berlusconi had asked for him to declare the shooting an error.