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Pope John Paul II: “The Pope Is Dead”

Today, His Holiness Pope John Paul II died at 1:37 p.m. CST while in his Papal Residence at the Vatican. His passing was confirmed, via the procedure outlined in Universi Dominici Gregis, by the camerlengo, Eduardo Cardinal Martínez Somalo.

The camerlengo verified His Holiness’ return to God by first standing near his body and calling out his Christian name, Karol, three times. As His Holiness did not answer, tradition called for the camerlengo to strike his forehead with a silver hammer bearing the pope’s coat of arms or for him to place a veil over his face. In either case, the camerlengo then declared “The pope is dead.”

The study and bedroom of the Pontiff has been sealed pending the election of the new pope.

As all the members of the Roman Curia derive their power and authority from the Pope, they all have lost it. The major exception being The Apostolic Penitentiary. This tribunal is responsible for the absolution of grave sins, dispensations and indulgences. This is kept active in case of any emergency appeals that may arise. Due to the nature of the tribunal, their business is kept under the seal under the confessional so we do not know in what circumstances such an emergency appeal would be made.

So now we begin the Novemdiales- the nine-day period of mourning after the Pope’s death. It would be proper for various liturgical services to be held across the world during this time period for the mourning of the faithful and for prayers for the repose of his soul.

We will probably hear more of this as it is determined but in nine days, the Pope will probably have a funeral Mass said for him and be buried. His coffin will probably be a simple one, of wood encased in a lead liner and then in a larger box of oak. The Mass will probably be held in St. Peter’s Square with all the able-bodied cardinals concelebrating.

On a local level, all parishes of the Diocese of Austin are to do a number of things upon hearing of the death of the pope. First, upon hearing news of his death, they were to toll their bells for one minute indicating his passing. A Mass should be celebrated as soon as possible- either the parish’s next daily Mass or a specially-scheduled one- using the Sacramentary’s votive Mass for “Death of the Pope”. During the nine day mourning period, churches can toll their bells for a minute following any of those memorial Masses.

The Pope’s name is no longer used during the Eucharistic Prayer and a special set of intercessions should be used as well. If a parish so desires, they can drape an exterior door in black and upon the election of a new pope, drape it in white or gold. The Diocese suggests holding public Liturgy of the Hours to give the faithful the better ability to liturgically celebrate the Pope’s passing.


According to the Vatican Press Office’s latest numbers (revised in January), Pope John Paul II had taken 104 trips outside of Italy reaching 129 countries, 894 trips inside of Italy, visiting 301 of the 333 parishes in the Diocese of Rome. He has published 112 “principal documents” (Encyclicals, Apostolic Exhortations, Letters and Constitutions and Motu Proprios). He had written 3,288 speeches for his voyages (both inside and outside of Italy).

Up until January 5th, Pope John Paul II had raised 1820 souls to the dignity of Blessed (1,338) or Saints (482). Excluding those souls, since the 1588 Apostolic Constitution Immensa aeterni which set the regulations for the canonization procedures, only 302 saints were canonized. Pope John Paul II had said that he raised so many to the dignity of the altars because he wished that the faithful could have more role models to follow.

He has appointed all but three of the 117 cardinals eligible to vote and all but 13 of the 183 living cardinals.

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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