3-April-2005 -- Catholic World News Brief
LAST MOMENTS OF JOHN PAUL II DESCRIBED
Rome, Apr. 03 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican press office released the following official statement by papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls regarding the sequence of events preceding and following Pope John Paul's death on Saturday:
"At 8 p.m. the celebration of Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday began in the Holy Father's room, presided by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz with the participation of Cardinal Marian Jaworski, of Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko and of Msgr. Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki.
"During the course of the Mass, the Viaticum was administered to the Holy Father and, once again, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
"The Holy Father's final hours were marked by the uninterrupted prayer of all those who were assisting him in his pious death, and by the choral participation in prayer of the thousands of faithful who, for many hours, had been gathered in St. Peter's Square.
"Present at the moment of the death of John Paul II were: his two personal secretaries Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz and Msgr. Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Cardinal Marian Jaworski, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, Fr. Tadeusz Styczen, the three nuns, Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who assist in the Holy Father's apartment, guided by the Superior Sr. Tobiana Sobodka, and the Pope's personal physician Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, with the two doctors on call, Dr. Alessandro Barelli and Dr. Ciro D'Allo, and the two nurses on call.
"Immediately afterwards Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano arrived, as did the camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, and Archbishop Paolo Sardi, vice-camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.
"Thereafter, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Jozef Tomko also arrived."
The first announcement of the Pope's death came from Navarro-Valls who, minutes after the Holy Father expired, sent an email to journalists informing them of the event. A formal announcement from Archbishop Sandri to the tens of thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square. "Our Holy Father, John Paul, has returned to the house of the Father," he said. "We all feel like orphans this evening."
As the end of his life approached, the Holy Father reportedly dictated a message for the Catholic faithful to his secretary: "I am happy and you should be happy too. Do not weep. Let us pray together with joy."
Father Jarek Cielecki, director of a Vatican TV station, gave more of the details of the Holy Father's last moments: "The Holy Father died looking towards the window as he prayed, and that shows that in some way he was conscious," Cielecki said. "A short while before dying, the Pope raised his right hand in a clear, although simply hinted at, gesture of blessing, as if he became aware of the crowd of faithful present in St Peter's Square, who in those moments were following the reciting of the Rosary," he added. "Just after the prayer ended, the Pope made a huge effort and pronounced the word 'Amen'. A moment later, he died."