April 2nd, 2005, 19:16 PM
Pope John Paul II dies in Vatican
Pope John Paul II, one of the longest serving pontiffs in history, has died at the age of 84.
He died on Saturday evening following a series of worsening health problems including heart failure.
The Polish-born Karol Wojtyla became Pope in 1978, taking a conservative stand on issues such as abortion, contraception and women's rights.
He was the most widely travelled pontiff and visited more than 120 countries during his 26-year papacy.
Pope John Paul II died at 2137 local time (1937 GMT) after suffering from heart and kidney problems and unstable blood pressure.
His condition deteriorated suddenly on Thursday night with a high fever caused by an infection of the urinary tract. The infection brought on "septic shock and a cardio-circulatory collapse", the Vatican said in a statement.The Pope then received the Saint Viaticum, a Catholic rite for the sick and dying.
The Vatican had announced on Friday that though he was gravely ill he had been conscious, lucid and serene.
Millions of Catholics across the world gathered in churches and in the open air to pray for the Pope.
The pontiff had been suffering from breathing troubles, exacerbated by the progress of Parkinson's Disease, an incurable condition from which he had been suffering for nearly a decade.
He appeared briefly at the window of his Vatican apartment on Easter Sunday to bless the faithful, but was not able to speak. It was the first time during his 26-year pontificate that the Pope had delegated the main Easter ceremonies to his cardinals. He tried again to speak to the faithful a few days later - a sign of his extraordinarily strong will, correspondents say.
John Paul's papacy nearly ended in 1981 when he was shot and seriously wounded as he toured St Peter's Square in Rome. After a long period of recovery he visited and forgave the would-be assassin.
John Paul's reign saw radical changes in the world including the collapse of communism and the spread of Aids.
Although plagued by ill health throughout the latter part of his papacy he maintained his international schedule and in 2000 made a poignant pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
He also made a final, nostalgic return to his homeland in 2002.
Born Karol Wojtyla in 1920 near Krakow, Poland, John Paul was an excellent sportsman in his youth.
April 3rd, 2005, 00:59 AM
Rest in peace..
I'm not a catholic, but I respect what the Pope stood for. He was a man of honor, and his legacy will remain in the hearts of those his messege has touched.