Shades of Another World Youth Day

Journalists Share Impressions After John Paul II’s Funeral

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ROME, APRIL 10, 2005 ( John Paul II’s funeral was a veritable «World Youth Day,» a «historic event,» according to a number of journalists.

Rome became the point of pilgrimage for millions of faithful wishing to say their last farewell to the Pope, who died April 2.

«The atmosphere one senses here is that of a World Youth Day; I think the Pope anticipated» the next Youth Day scheduled this August in Germany, said Father Josetxo Vera of «Popular Television» of Navarre, Spain.

With his death the Pope convoked hundreds of thousands of people to Rome, including many youths, the priest commented to ZENIT in the time leading up to the funeral.

«This is the atmosphere we are experiencing: There has been much singing, especially while waiting in line,» he said.

Father Vera, reporting for Truth magazine of Spain, said: «During the whole week there was not a single quarrel, or disagreeable look. There was nothing but kindness, on the part of the organization — with great patience for all, and by the people who came. I think it is something that only the Catholic Church can achieve: to create a good atmosphere.»

«There have also been people going to confession, and yesterday some made a pilgrimage from St. John Lateran» he said, commenting that these are activities typical of a World Youth Day.

An aspect of John Paul II’s life that particularly impressed the priest was that «this Pope, in all his audiences, was always close to the sick, people who were suffering; now they also had reserved places near him in prayer, because anyone who arrived in a wheelchair was placed near the Pope, where they prayed next to the cardinals.»

«John Paul II always trusted and relied on the sick, and lived his sickness with them, and they were close to him at the moment of his death, and the cardinals were not higher than the sick,» Father Vera continued.

«The reaction aroused in people» after the Pope’s death was the reason that María Guzmán, reporting for the news daily A.M. de León of Guanajuato, Mexico, came to Rome.

«Regardless of beliefs and tendencies, to my mind, John Paul II was the only moral leader that we had; so we see the reaction he has generated,» said Guzmán.

Reflecting on the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, composed of political and religious leaders from all over the world, and hundreds of thousands of faithful, Guzmán commented on «the presence of leaders of non-Catholic countries» and «that feeling of the world in general over the absence of the only moral leader that was left.»

Maa Soumeh Classy, an Iranian Muslim, was sent by the Iranian Students News Agency, headquartered in Tehran, to report on John Paul II’s funeral. She was a member of the delegation of President Mohammed Khatami of Iran.

«My agency sent me to cover this historical event. Being a Muslim country, we are very interested in and respectful of the Vatican,» she said.
<br> «Our presence in the Pope’s funeral rites shows our willingness to dialogue with civilizations, which our president has always emphasized and reiterated,» she added.

Classy said she considered John Paul II to be «very important as a religious leader.»

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