Pope John Paul II remembered locally

Funeral services will be held tomorrow (Friday, April 8) for Pope John Paul II. The Pope was 84. Pope John Paul, the Polish pontiff who led the Roman Catholic Church for more than a quarter century and became history’s most-traveled pope, was announced dead Saturday, April 2 by the Vatican.

Many across the world mourned the passing of the Pope and remembered him as a special and good hearted man.

Some members of the St. Benedict Catholic church in Grambling spoke highly of the Pope. The “Pope, himself, for me has been a symbol of a follower of Christ. He was an example for all of us to follow as being the children of God,” said Father Nicholas Onyach, Priest of St. Benedict Catholic Church of Grambling.

“The word Catholic means universal, and the Pope tried to show that by traveling everywhere. He showed the love of Christ for everybody, not only the Catholics, but to everyone he met,” explained Father Onyach.

Father Onyach said, “I met him when he came to Kenya, East Africa in 1995. He visited Kenya three times, and he spoke the Swahili language while there and made the people feel as if he was part of them. For me, he was the example of what Christ would want us to do by showing love to all.”

“He was close to the youth as many of them were looking forward to traveling to Germany to the Conference of the World Youth Day in 2006 that he was supposed to attend,” he said.

Father Onyach said it is hard to say who the next Pope will be, but hopefully he will point the way to Christ. The next Pope has some great shoes to fill.

“I pray the new Pope will continue the work, stay close to the youth and honor the commitment of Pope John Paul II by attending the World Youth Day,” expressed Father Onyach.

David “Rusty” Ponton, GSU head basketball coach and member of St. Benedict was sorry to hear about the Pope’s passing.

“The death of the Pope came not so much as a surprise but as a disappointment or a great loss. He has been ill for a number of years but yet he has managed to maintain his position. He will be sadly missed,” said Ponton.

“His legacy and humanitarianism is something that sticks out most in my mind. We perceive him as being an outstanding victor for our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ponton explained.

“I believe he was the most visual and approachable Pope in history because of his sensitivity. He was very intuned with young people. He was very vocal about the acts that was done to young children by priest and expressed that they should be punished,” he said.

“I respect Pope John Paul II for all he has done for the world, and I respect him for what he has done on an international level,” said John Merritt, sophomore political science major from Conway, Ark. VATICAN CITY (AP) – After electronic highway signs and cell phone text messages failed to staunch the flow of pilgrims, police stepped in Wednesday to turn back mourners hoping to join the 24-hour line to view the body of Pope John Paul II, on a day that brought almost 1 million people to the Vatican. Using a special entrance for VIPs, President Bush viewed the body with his wife, Laura, along with his father, former President Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, shortly after the U.S. delegation reached Rome. They knelt in a pew in front of the remains, bowing their heads in prayer, joining a million pilgrims who had filed solemnly through St. Peter’s Basilica. Seeking to clear the basilica by Thursday evening so the Vatican could prepare for John Paul’s funeral the following day, police announced they were closing the line at 10 p.m. Text messages were sent over Italian cellular phone lines. Those at the back would wait 24 hours before entering the basilica. “We’re just hoping the order can be reversed,” said Federica Bruni, a 20-year-old student who came from northern Italy and was one of the first to be told to go away Wednesday night. It took more than an hour after the deadline to set up the barricades and establish the cutoff point. “You tell these people!” said one Civil Defense officer in frustration as the time passed for the line to end. “How can we close?” “It’s possible there are 1 million people out there,” said Luca Spoletini of the Civil Defense Department. “They are all concentrated outside St. Peter’s … We are all working to ensure maximum tranquility.” The crowd control problems developed hours after the College of Cardinals set April 18 as the start of its conclave in the Sistine Chapel to choose a successor to John Paul, a papal election with new rules and new technological challenges. The Vatican is a keeper of secrets without parallel, but there were questions Wednesday about whether the deliberations _ and the name of the new pope _ could be kept within the frescoed walls in an era of cell phones and now that the cardinals will be allowed to roam freely around the Vatican. “They’ve assured us there are ways to block all communications and conversations,” Chicago Cardinal Francis George said. “They’re taking precautions to prevent outside interference. … No cell phones, no laptops, nothing.” The severest of punishments _ including excommunication and “grave penalties” meted out by the pope himself _ await anyone who breaks the sacred oaths of secrecy. John Paul set out the penalties in a 1996 document, giving cardinals who will choose his successor a set of detailed guidelines to ensure the centuries-old process of electing a pope is safe in the modern age. In it, he called for a clean sweep by “trustworthy” technicians of the Sistine Chapel and adjoining rooms to prevent bugs and other audiovisual equipment from being installed. He banned telephones. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the cardinals would celebrate a morning Mass on April 18, then be sequestered in the Sistine Chapel in the early afternoon for their first ballot. In past conclaves, cardinals were sequestered in the Apostolic Palace, crammed into tiny makeshift cubicles with limited toilet facilities and no running water. In 1996, however, John Paul said the cardinals would instead be housed in a hotel he had built within the Vatican walls. Each cardinal now has a private room and bath. It was originally believed they would move between the hotel and the Sistine Chapel under escort, but Archbishop Piero Marini, the papal master-of-ceremonies, disclosed Tuesday they were free to go about the Vatican between voting sessions. According to church law, prelates are expected to hold at least one ballot on the first day of a conclave. Under revisions by John Paul, if no one gets the required two-thirds majority after about 12 days, cardinals may change the procedure and elect a pope by a simple majority. The number of cardinal electors under age 80 and thus eligible to vote is 117, but only 116 will enter the conclave because Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines is too ill to attend. Sin, now 76, had been one of only three cardinal electors who also took part in the 1978 conclave to elect John Paul. John Paul’s spiritual testament, read Wednesday, was a 15-page document written in his native Polish over the course of his pontificate starting in 1979, a year after he was elected. It did not name the mystery cardinal he created in 2003, Navarro-Valls said, ending speculation that a last-minute cardinal might join in the conclave. Navarro-Valls ruled out that John Paul’s body would be brought to St. John Lateran Basilica, across Rome, before Friday’s burial, as was done for Pope Pius XII in 1958. The spokesman said that with such crowds already converging on Rome, the Vatican could not meet requests for a viewing at what is Rome’s cathedral. Instead, John Paul will be buried immediately in the grotto under St. Peter’s Basilica, he said. Giant television screens will be set up at St. John Lateran so that crowds who gather there will be able to view the funeral proceedings, he said. The crush of pilgrims on the road leading to the Vatican will rise sharply when an expected 2 million Poles arrive in Rome for the funeral. Italian Cardinal Pio Laghi told reporters the scene was like a cloud, “but it is a cloud that is luminous and full of life.” Italian authorities readied anti-aircraft rocket launchers among security measures to protect the scores of dignitaries converging on Rome for Friday’s pomp-filled funeral in St. Peter’s Square. Italy was calling in extra police to the capital and planned to seal off much of the Eternal City on Friday to protect a VIP contingent that will also include French President Jacques Chirac, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the presidents of Syria and Iran, among other heads of state. Victor L. Simpson an Associated Press Writer contributed to this story. #&?&Z&[&??�?�?�?�0JOJQJ@�`?CJ0JOJQJ@��?CJ0JOJQJ@�8?CJ 0J@�8?CJ0J5@�8?CJ $%�K?���? = � eD ? � ???��??�?????�???????????�??? ??@d? ??@d ??@d ??@d? $ ??@d $ ??@d?�u�^?I 5?�T?_Qj�� �!�”#?#($�$&&???????????????????????????? ??@d&Z&[&?� ??@d ??@d?[&???- ??=!?”?#�?$�?%?