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Pope John Paul II Dies

3 February, 2004 4:00 PM

For all the latest news about Pope John Paul II see this Pope John Paul II News blog.

Catholics everywhere are praying for Pope John Paul II's health as he battles another bout with the flu. Media are reporting that his death may be imminent but what happens when a pope dies?

When a Pope dies is a good explanation of this occourance.

'When the pope dies, the cardinal chamberlain (Camerlengo) of the holy Roman Church (currently Eduardo Cardinal Martinez Somalo) ascertains the pope�s death, traditionally by calling the pope three times by his baptismal name without response. The ritual of striking the head with a silver hammer (which would later be used to break the Fisherman�s Ring and the papal seal) may be replaced by covering the face with a cloth. He then authorizes the secretary-chancellor to issue a death certificate and seals the pope's private apartments. After notifying the cardinal vicar for the diocese of Rome, the chamberlain secures the temporal goods and rights of the Holy See and attends to the details of the pope�s burial.'...

What Happens when a pope dies is another good article with similar information.

'When a pope dies, a formal process begins that certifies his death, carries out his funeral, and ensures that the selection of his successor takes place according to the prescribed procedures. The busiest person during this period is the camerlengo, or papal chamberlain, who functions something like a chief of staff.

The camerlengo's first task is to certify that the pope is dead. Traditionally, this has included tapping the pope's forehead, perhaps with a little silver hammer, and calling him three times by his first name. No response means that the pope is dead, but more precise medical equipment may be used today....'

Also see When a Pope Dies

'Regardless of the circumstances, when a Pope dies certain procedures specified in Church law, specifically the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, must be followed. First among these is the certification that he is truly dead. This task falls to the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.

In the presence of the Master of Papal Liturgical Ceremonies, the Cleric Prelates of the Apostolic Camera, and the Secretary and the Chancellor of the Apostolic Camera, the Camerlengo ascertains that the Pope is dead. Naturally, this could require the assistance of medical personnel. Having made this determination, the Chancellor of the Apostolic Camera draws up the official death certificate. The Camerlengo then seals the Pope�s bedroom and study. Its unsealing and the� disposition of its contents must wait the election of his successor. If the deceased Pope has left a will naming an executor for his personnel belongings, the executor is responsible for faithfully carrying out the will, and for giving an account of his service to the new Pope....'

About Pope John Paul II - Pope John Paul II (often referred to as His Holiness by Catholics), n� Karol J�zef Wojty?a (born May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland), is the current Pope � the Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church. He was elected on October 16, 1978, becoming the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the first pope of Slavic origin in the history of the Church.

Pope John Paul II crusades against political oppression have been praised, but his conservative social positions have been more controversial. His more than 100 trips abroad have attracted enormous crowds (some of the largest ever assembled). With these trips, John Paul has covered a distance far greater than that traveled by all other popes combined. They have been seen as an outward sign of the efforts at global bridge-building between nations and between religions that have been central to his pontificate.

Pope John Paul II has beatified and canonized far more persons than any other previous pope in history. It is reported that as of October 2004, he has beatified 1,340 people. Whether he has canonized more saints than all his predecessors put together, as is sometimes claimed, is difficult to prove, as the records of many early canonizations are incomplete or missing.

On March 14, 2004, his pontificate overtook Leo XIII's as the third-longest pontificate in the history of the Papacy (after Pius IX and St. Peter). In February 2010, if still reigning, he will overtake Pius IX as having the longest proven papal reign ever. The length of his term is in extreme contrast with that of his predecessor John Paul I, who died suddenly after only 33 days in office (and in whose memory John Paul II named himself).

Pope John Paul II has been increasingly ill of late and many expect his death is imminent.

Read more atWikipedia: Pope John Paul II

His Holiness John Paul II Short Biography

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