End of an Era

The Death of Pope John Paul II and the Election of Pope Benedict XVI

The death of a beloved Pontiff drew the world's attention to Rome, and as millions of mourners followed the funeral for Pope John Paul II, they saw the emergence of a new leader for the universal Church.
Pope John Paul II died late on Saturday night, April 2, ending one of the longest and most influential pontificates in the history of the Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II-Official Portrait

The Holy Father remained “extraordinarily serene” during his final illness, according to his spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls. He had suffered heart failure the previous evening while being treated for an infection of his urinary tract. As his condition deteriorated rapidly during the day on Friday and then Saturday, with his body wracked by septic shock and kidney failure, the Pope remained in prayer with his closest aides, losing consciousness only late in the evening before his death.

Pope John Paul was 84 years old at the time of his death. He had been afflicted by Parkinson's disease, causing a serious curtailment of his activities, for several years. In February 2005, he was hospitalized twice for severe respiratory problems. Doctors at the Gemelli Hospital had inserted a tube in his throat to ease his breathing, and just days before his final illness the Vatican had disclosed that a feeding tube had also been inserted to provide the Pontiff with supplementary nourishment because of his difficulty in swallowing. The Pope's last public appearance came on Easter Sunday, when he came to the balcony of his apartment in the apostolic palace to deliver the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. During that public appearance the Pope was in obvious pain, and unable to speak.


In October 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, was elected the 264th Roman Pontiff-the youngest Pope of the 20th century and the first non-Italian to serve as leader of the Catholic world in over 400 years. He took the name John Paul II, and in a memorable first appearance as Pope, immediately won the hearts of the Roman crowd as he greeted them with the words of Jesus, which would echo throughout his 26-year pontificate:“Be not afraid!”

Only two Popes-Blessed Pius IX, who served over 31 years, and St. Peter himself-have held the papacy for longer than John Paul II. During his extraordinary pontificate, he became the most widely recognized man in human history, traveling to greet millions of people all around the world, and earning credit as one of the principal architects of the fall of Soviet Communism. His years in the papacy saw a series of “firsts,” and an astonishing output of encyclicals, apostolic letters, and other writings.

Pope John Paul II with President Reagan

Born in Wadowice, Poland, on May 18, 1920, Karol Wojtyla was raised primarily by his father, a military officer also named Karol, after his mother's death in 1929. When his father died in 1941, he was left alone, as a student in Krakow's Jagiellonian University. During the occupation of Poland by Nazi forces in World War II, he was pressed into labor as a stonecutter, then in a chemical factory, but worked with the Polish underground and maintained an avid interest in theater.

In 1942 the young Wojtyla entered a clandestine seminary, and after the war, in 1946, he was ordained by Cardinal Adam Sapieha of Krakow. He continued his studies in Rome under the famous French Dominican, Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, and earned degrees in theology and philosophy, with a dissertation on the mystical works of St. John of the Cross. He returned to Poland to teach at the Krakow seminary, while also serving as a parish priest, and forming friendships with a number of young families-friendships that remained intact throughout his life.

At the age of just 38 he was named an auxiliary bishop of Krakow by Pope Pius XII, and in 1962 he became the city's archbishop. He was raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI at the age of 47. The scholarly young Polish prelate was an influential figure in the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council, taking a particularly active role in the writing of Gaudium et Spes (doc), the dogmatic constitution on the Church and the modern world.

In August 1978, he took part in the conclave that elected Cardinal Albino Luciani of Venice to become Pope John Paul I; when that Pontiff died abruptly after just 33 days, he again entered the conclave-to emerge as Pope John Paul II.

During visits to his native Poland, John Paul II proved to be a lightning rod for the growing opposition to the country's Communist regime. On May 13, 1981, he was shot and severely wounded by Mehmet Ali Agca in an assassination attempt that took place immediately after a public audience in St. Peter's Square. Vatican officials immediately suspected that the leaders of the Soviet Union had authorized the attempt on the Pope's life-a hypothesis that appears to have been confirmed by documents recently discovered in the archives of the East German secret service.

Pope John Paul II at an open air Mass

Alongside his historic role in the fall of Communism, John Paul II has also been the world's most influential defender of the dignity of human life; his memorable calls for the development of a “culture of life”-and his parallel denunciations of the “culture of death”-have been instrumental in rallying opposition to abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and embryonic-tissue research.

The Polish Pontiff was an ardent exponent of Christian unity, who made special efforts to reach out to other Christian churches. He was especially insistent on the need to bring together the Eastern and Western Christian traditions, saying that the Church must “breathe with both lungs.”


Pope John Paul was unable to speak, and in obvious pain, as he appeared in public on Easter Sunday to deliver his Urbi et Orbi blessing.

One of the last appearances of Pope John Paul II

The Holy Father gave his blessing to the faithful in St. Peter's Square, and remained at the window of his apartment for about 12 minutes. But after initially struggling to speak, he gave up and remained silent. For the first time in his 26-year pontificate, he was unable to deliver his Easter message orally; in previous years he had given the short message in as many as 60 difference languages.

Earlier, the Pope had followed the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, the climactic service of the Easter Triduum, by a video link, from his apartment in the apostolic palace. Although he sent a written message to the congregation, he did not make an appearance on the giant video screens installed around St. Peter's Square, as he had done for the commemoration of Christ's Passion on Good Friday.

On Easter Sunday, many of the faithful in St. Peter's Square wept openly as they saw the Holy Father, who trembled visibly during his appearance, and put his hand to his head several times in a gesture that clearly showed his suffering. Aides had brought a microphone when he first appeared, but after struggling and producing only a few unrecognizable noises, he resigned himself to the fact that he could not speak.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano,the Vatican Secretary of State, was also moved by strong emotions as he read the Pope's short Easter message. Cardinal Sodano added that the Pope was “closer to us than ever and blesses us with all his heart.”


During the quiet days after Easter, there was intense speculation in the Italian press about the Pope's health, while the Vatican remained silent.

“We are reasonably comfortable with the post-operative phase,” said Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, speaking to La Repubblica. But Il Messaggero reported that the Pope was suffering, and added its own report that a new trip to the hospital was looming.

After nearly three weeks without an official bulletin on the Pope's condition, the Vatican press office revealed on March 30 that the Holy Father had been equipped with a feeding tube “to improve the caloric intake.” Informed sources at the Vatican said that the Pope had been able to eat, but only with effort; the feeding tube became necessary because he was not able to take in enough food to sustain his recovery after surgery.

Because of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, which stiffened the muscles of his throat and chest, the Pope had difficulty in breathing, swallowing, and clearing his throat. The insertion of the feeding tube came after the February operation in which doctors inserted a tube through his throat to ease his breathing. The nasal-gastric tube, a flexible hose running through his nose into his stomach, enabled medical personnel to ensure that the Holy Father had proper nutrition.

In making the announcement that a feeding tube was already in place, the Vatican apparently hoped to defuse reports that the Pope would need to be hospitalized once again. But just one day later there was a new and more urgent cause for alarm. On Thursday, March 31, Navarro-Valls said Pope John Paul had a high fever as the result of a urinary tract infection. While a urinary infection can ordinarily be treated successfully with antibiotics, the 84-year-old Holy Father's severely weakened state made the fever a matter of intense concern.

The next day, April 1, it was revealed that the Pope had suffered heart failure while under treatment for the infection. On Friday his condition had been stabilized, and Navarro-Valls said that the Holy Father was “lucid, fully conscious, and extraordinarily serene,” but conceded that his condition was “very grave.”

Navarro-Valls was clearly moved, his eyes brimming with tears, as he briefed reporters on the Pope's condition at midday on Friday. Asked about his own emotions, the papal spokesman said that they should not be the focus of attention. He did concede, nevertheless, that “this is an image you have never seen here”-referring to his own very visible distress. He said that the Pope's overall condition had improved after a Thursday-night crisis, but his blood pressure remained “unstable” and his prognosis was poor. However, he flatly denied reports that the Pontiff had lapsed into a coma. The Holy Father, he added, was “extraordinarily serene.”


The Pope met with several top Vatican aides-including Cardinal Sodano and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger-on Friday morning. Aides reported that the Pontiff had asked them to read to him from the Stations of the Cross, which he followed attentively. The Pope also prayed the Liturgy of the Hours with his aides, and concelebrated Mass. Navarro-Valls said that the Pope had expressed his preference to remain at the Vatican, receiving care from a medical team in his own apartment rather than returning to the Gemelli Hospital.

The Pope received the Anointing of the Sick on Thursday, and roads to the Vatican were closed, as hundreds of people began to gather in St. Peter's Square to pray for the Holy Father. By now it was clear that John Paul II was close to death; doctors observed that heart failure-as distinct from a heart attack-is usually a symptom of an irreparable physical breakdown. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for the Rome diocese, issued a statement asking the faithful to pray more intensively for John Paul II as he faced his final struggle. Cardinal Ruini scheduled a special Mass, to be celebrated in the basilica of St. John Lateran, for Friday evening, and invited the faithful to join in prayer for the Pontiff.

On April 1, the Vatican published a long list of formal announcements of episcopal appointments and resignations approved by the ailing Pontiff. The multiple announcements-of new bishops and archbishops, coadjutors, nuncios, and resignations-appeared to have been released in anticipation of the Holy Father's death. Upon the death of a Roman Pontiff, no new appointments can be made, or resignations accepted, until the new Pope is elected.


Crowds preparing to hold a vigil outside Papal apartments

By 7 pm on Friday, a Vatican statement said that Pope John Paul's breathing had become shallow, that he was suffering kidney failure beginning the process of poisoning his other organs, and that his “cardio-vascular system has worsened.”

As the vicar general of the Rome diocese organized a Rosary vigil in St. Peter's Square on the night of April 1, the theologian of the papal household said that he felt a “great emotion and sadness” at the impending death of the Pontiff. Bishop Angelo Comastri, the vicar general, led the faithful in the Rosary as midnight approached in Rome. The bishop read meditations, composed by Pope John Paul, before each decade, drawing them from the Pope's apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. An estimated 30,000 people had gathered in the square outside the apostolic palace, waiting for an announcement that was believed imminent.

Cardinal Georges Cottier, the theologian to the pontifical household, said that John Paul II had shown “exemplary” courage and serenity as he faced death. “He lived in prayer,” the Swiss prelate said, and the Pontiff was intensely prayerful in his final hours. “For months, he has entered into the mystery of the Cross of Jesus,” Cardinal Cottier said. “This is truly a Christian death-which means that his heart is alive with hope of the Resurrection.” Throughout his pontificate, the cardinal continued, John Paul II has been “a great apostle of hope.” He observed that “from the first day of his pontificate, he said, 'Do not be afraid,' when we were fearful, worried, with dark visions of the future.”

During the night, the square outside the papal apartment took on aspects of a World Youth Day celebration, with hundreds of young people praying and singing quiet hymns throughout the night, many of them holding candles, looking frequently up toward the windows of the Holy Father's apartment on the third floor, where the lights remained on.

Crowds awaiting news in St Peter's Square

Journalists also kept vigil at the Vatican, with many reporters choosing to sleep on the floor of the Vatican press office, at the entry to St. Peter's Square. Meanwhile technicians began work at the Vatican installing the equipment that would be needed to accommodate the College of Cardinals and the many thousands of people who were expected to gather for the Pope's funeral.

Friday night passed, and the fateful announcement was not heard. Pope John Paul remained on the verge of death Saturday morning, and his spokesman said his condition remained “substantially unchanged.”

“The general cardio-respiratory and metabolic conditions of the Holy Father are substantially unchanged and therefore are very serious,” said Joaquin Navarro-Valls. He added that the Pope was slipping in and out of consciousness. The spokesman said that the Holy Father was mindful of the young people who had gathered beneath the windows of the papal apartments in St. Peter's Square throughout the night as well as all the youth he had met throughout the world during his pontificate. Navarro-Valls said, “In fact, he seemed to be referring to them when, in his words, and repeated several times, he seemed to have said the following sentence: 'I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you.'” As colleagues and acquaintances of Pope John Paul made their last visits to the Pontiff, a Roman prelate said that he was struck by the love in the Pope's eyes, while an old Polish friend said flatly that Karol Wojtyla is a saint. “

John Paul II accepted his destiny in a way that we cannot even understand,” said Wanda Poltawska, a Polish friend of many years. “It is difficult to find someone who believes so deeply,” she added. “He is in touch with God. For him, that is reality.” Poltawska spoke of the enormous strength she saw in Pope John Paul. “Naturally, in time, his energy became weaker; his body is old.” Nevertheless, she contended, “It is hard to find such a strong person.” That strength was evident in his final struggle, she added, when he suffered without complaint and clung to life long after the breakdown of his bodily processes. “His strength is not physical,” she concluded. “It is a strength of spirit.”

Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, the retired head of the Apostolic Signatura, made a visit to Pope John Paul on April 1; afterward he spoke of his impressions to La Repubblica.

The Pope seemed to be asleep, the Italian prelate said, when he entered the room. But when his name was mentioned, John Paul opened his eyes slowly, and Cardinal Pompedda said that he would never forget “the gentleness of his look.” The elderly cardinal said that he had knelt beside the Pope's bed, taking his hand. John Paul II seemed to be making an attempt to speak, he said, but “nothing came out.” He said that the Pontiff was “smiling and serene.”


The vigil in St. Peter's Square continued on Saturday, and the news media from all around the world concentrated their attention on the Vatican, waiting for the fateful announcement. Through most of the day, television news correspondents struggled for fresh reports on the Pope's condition-which the Vatican declined to provide-and for new and discreet ways to say what viewers now knew: that the Pope was dying.

But John Paul, who had so often surprised observers in the past with his physical stamina and his ability to recover from serious disease, was not ready to go quietly. The hours passed, and the Pope clung to life. Finally, late in the evening, the end came.

In a break from Vatican tradition, it was the Vatican's deputy Secretary of State, rather than the vicar for the Rome diocese, who formally announced the Pope's death. Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the influential Vatican official commonly known as the sostituto, emerged from the apostolic palace on Sunday evening to tell the waiting crowd that the Pope had died at 9:37.

Upon hearing the news, many of the people in the Vatican square began weeping openly, as did several of the prelates gathered to lead their prayers. After the archbishop's announcement, the bishops led the singing of the Salve Regina, a Marian hymn typically sung at the end of the day. Next Cardinal Angelo Sodano came to the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to lead the recitation of Psalm 129 (130), the de profundis, a traditional prayer for the dead. Shortly thereafter, the bells of Rome's churches began to toll.


At a Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, April 3, Cardinal Sodano prayed that the deceased Pontiff would “watch over us always from heaven, and help us to cross that 'threshold of hope' about which he said so much to us.” Cardinal Sodano, who served the Pope for years as Secretary of State, presided at a Mass attended by hundreds of thousands of mourners; the congregation filled St. Peter's Square and spilled out into the streets to the banks of the Tiber River. Cardinal Ratzinger concelebrated the Eucharistic liturgy, as did Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Italian President Silvio Berlusconi was among the hundreds of secular dignitaries present.

In his homily, Cardinal Sodano said that he had personally been a “witness to the serenity” of John Paul II as he approached death, emphasizing the prayerful and recollected attitude of the late Pontiff and characterizing it as “the serenity of saints.” Although the Catholic world was mourning John Paul II, the Italian prelate observed, the deceased Pope himself had recognized and conveyed the faith and hope that transform grief into confidence in God. He noted that the universal Church was celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy, “established by our dearly departed Pope John Paul II himself, as one of the legacies of his pontificate, to underline this most consoling aspect of the Christian mystery.”

Recalling the message that John Paul II proclaimed to the world throughout the 26 years of his pontificate, Cardinal Sodano stressed the papal call for a “civilization of love, radically different” from the dominant ideologies of the 20th century.


The cardinals who managed the affairs of the Holy See through the transition between Popes met for the first time on Monday, April 4, to make immediate arrangements for the funeral, and for the public veneration of the remains of Pope John Paul. After that meeting the director of the Vatican press office, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, briefed reporters.

After convening for the first time in the Bologna Room of the apostolic palace, the 65 cardinals then in Rome scheduled the procession in which the body of John Paul II was to be brought into the Vatican basilica for public veneration.

On Sunday morning, the Pope's body was transferred from his apartment to the Clementine Hall, on the second floor of the apostolic palace, where Church leaders and diplomats accredited to the Holy See paid their last respects. On Monday afternoon his remains were moved in a formal procession to the Vatican basilica, for public veneration. Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo (bio - news), the camerlengo, presided at prayer services as the Pope's body was transferred.

Carrying the body of Pope John Paul II to St Peter's

The camerlengo had also presided, on the morning of Sunday, April 3, at the unique ceremony in which the Pope's death was formally recorded. Cardinal Martinez Somalo entered the papal apartment along with the Pope's personal physician,Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, to carry out the ancient Ordo Exsequiarum Romani Pontifici. While Dr. Buzzonetti filled out a death certificate, the camerlengo called out to the Pope, using his baptismal name, three times. When there was no answer, Cardinal Martinez formally declared the Pope's death, and this was duly recorded by the secretary of the apostolic palace, Enrico Serafini.

Dr. Buzzonetti certified that Pope John Paul had died at 9:37 on April 2. The cause of death was listed as septic shock following upon irreversible heart failure. The death certificate also listed a number of ailments, including Parkinson's disease. (This was the first formal acknowledgment by any Vatican official that the Pope had the disease.)

After the Mass celebrated on Sunday morning for the Pope, the closest aides of John Paul II assembled in the Clementine Hall to pray before his remains. First in line were the members of the pontifical household, led by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, his longtime personal secretary. This initial group also included the four Polish nuns who kept up the papal apartments throughout this pontificate. They were followed into the Clementine Hall by members of the Roman Curia and other cardinals. Next there were political dignitaries, beginning with Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

On Monday afternoon, many thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square to see the solemn procession by which the Pontiff's body was transferred to the basilica. A detachment of Swiss Guards led the cortege through the Bronze Door of the apostolic palace into St. Peter's Square, followed by clerics and choir accompanying the Pope's coffin.

Earlier the bells of the Vatican had tolled to mark the beginning of the ceremony. But the procession entered the basilica in silence. The Pope's body was placed at the Altar of Confession, flanked by Swiss Guards, as Cardinal Martinez Somalo, his emotions very much in evidence, led the Latin prayers for a deceased Pontiff.

When the prayers were finished, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, taking precedence in his capacity as the dean of the College of Cardinals, led the assembled prelates in kneeling for a final time to pray before the Pope's body. After him the members of the hierarchy lined up to pay their respects, followed by the general public.


Shortly before 8 in the evening, the public was admitted to the basilica, and a long line of mourners began filing slowly into St. Peter's. Vatican officials announced that the basilica would remain open around the clock, closing only from 2 to 5 in the morning, during the week, allowing as many people as possible to pay their tribute to John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II lying in state

The city of Rome was preparing for a huge onslaught of visitors-including hundreds of world leaders as well as millions of ordinary Catholics- who were planning to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Local officials mobilized 6,430 police officers from various jurisdictions. Of these, 5,000 were responsible for maintaining public order, primarily around the Vatican. Most of the remainder had more specific tasks involving the protection of visiting officials.

Within a few days after the Pope's death it was apparent that the crowd estimates, anticipating about 2 million mourners, were hopelessly low. Police now anticipated that “several” million would flock to Rome by the time of the Pope's funeral, and warned that there is “no possibility” that someone who arrived in the city then, without having made prior arrangements, would be able to attend the funeral services.

Even with giant video screens set up on streets around the Vatican, officials said that the crush of pilgrims would make it impossible to see, and alerted Italian citizens that television broadcasts would afford a better view. Even before the funeral, approximately 3 million pilgrims came to Rome to pay their last respects to Pope John Paul as his body lay in state in the Vatican basilica, according to estimates released by the Vatican. By Monday night, the line of mourners snaked its way around St. Peter's Square, out into the Via della Conciliazione, and down nearly to the Tiber. During the night, which was seasonably cool, many younger people slept on the sidewalks to save their places in the line. Others remained standing, shuffling and talking to each other to stay awake through the night.

At its longest, the line of mourners outside St. Peter's Basilica stretched for 3 miles. These mourners waited in line for an average of 13 hours; for some the wait was a full day. On Wednesday evening, police closed off access to the long line of mourners waiting to view the deceased Pope's body, explaining that someone who joined the rear of the line at that point would not have time to reach the Vatican basilica before the building was cleared for the Pope's funeral.

Crowd-control barriers maintained the lines, but the mourners were quiet and peaceful, offering no trouble for security officials. From time to time young people took up a chant, repeating “Giovanni Paolo,” and clapping out the rhythm of the late Pope's name. Polish flags were much in evidence in the line, although the vast majority of mourners were clearly Italian. Many people carried portraits of John Paul II; others bore homemade signs. “You taught us how to live and how to die; thank you,” read one sign. Another prayed, “Karol, intercede for us.”

Once inside St. Peter's Basilica, the mourners encountered a reverent silence. The line moved steadily past the catafalque on which the Pope's body was laid; each mourner passed in just a few seconds. Vatican security officials were vigilant to ensure that no one stopped to slow down the line. Many of the mourners were in tears as they passed, looking back to catch a last glimpse of the beloved Pontiff before they passed beyond view. Many carried small cameras, or cell phones that could take digital images, to preserve their memories of the Pope

Pope John Paul II lying in state


With the death of Pope John Paul, all the top officers of the Roman Curia were relieved of their duties. The essential administrative tasks of the Holy See would be supervised by the congregation of cardinals during the next few weeks, until the election of the new Roman Pontiff.

All of the cardinals and archbishops who head Vatican dicasteries-te Secretary of State, the prefects of congregations, and the presidents of pontifical councils-lose their authority with the death of the Pontiff. The Roman Curia has no power of its own, serving only on the authority of the Pope. So these offices would remain vacant until new prefects were appointed, or old ones re-appointed, by the newly elected Pope. (There are only two exceptions to this general rule: The camerlengo, whose duty is specifically to supervise the administration of affairs during an interregnum, retains that title. And the Apostolic Pentitentiary, whose duties involve handling sensitive issues of conscience, remains in office.)

Under the terms of the apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, in which Pope John Paul II laid out the procedures to be followed for a papal transition, these congregations of cardinals would handle the necessary decisions for planning the papal funeral and the election of a new Pontiff. All of the cardinals who participate in these meetings take an oath of secrecy, so that conversations can be entirely confidential.

There are two distinct types of congregations: general and particular. A “general” congregation includes all of the cardinals who have arrived in Rome. These general congregations are held each day-even on the day of the Pope's funeral-until the papal conclave.

The “particular” congregation meets as required to handle more detailed administrative affairs. The “particular” congregation consists of the camerlengo and three other prelates selected from the “general” congregation to work with him. As they arrived in Rome from all around the world, having been summoned to come as quickly as possible after the Pope's death, cardinals took rooms in the St. Martha residence at the Vatican, built in the 1990s for precisely this function. The cardinals who ordinarily live in Rome would join them there when the papal conclave began. In the St. Martha residence, the cardinals had relatively comfortable living quarters during their stay in Rome. (In August 1978, during the conclave that elected Pope John Paul I, many prelates suffered considerably from the heat of the Roman summer in the outdated quarters then arranged from them.) There were 108 apartments to accommodate 115 eligible cardinal-electors, so virtually every prelate was guaranteed his own private room. A large common dining room, served by religious, allowed for the use of the residence during a papal election, when the prelates were not allowed to speak with anyone outside the conclave.


The funeral Mass for Pope John Paul was held in St. Peter's Square on Friday morning, April 8, at 10.

Even before sunrise, large crowds had begun to gather in the center of Rome, around places where video screens had been set up to broadcast the funeral. Screens were set up in the Circus Maximus, the Piazza del Popolo, the Piazza Risorgimento, the Coliseum, at 2 soccer stadiums, at the three other major basilicas of Rome (St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls), and at the Tor Vergata outside the city, where thousands of pilgrims were camping. There were also screens in St. Peter's Square, which quickly filled with pilgrims, and along the Via della Conciliazione, which was crowded all the way to the Tiber. Italian, French, and American flags were in evidence, but the Polish influence was dominant.

St Peters Square during the Funeral

About 500,000 people filled St. Peter's Square and the Via della Conciliazione and an additional 600,000 people followed the ceremony on the 29 giant screens set up at various public places in and around the city.

The details of the unique ceremony-which lasted more than 3 hours-followed the rubrics laid out in Universi Dominici Gregis. That document stipulates that a Pope's funeral should be held between 4 and 6 days after his death. Pope John Paul died in the evening of April 2, so his funeral occurred on the last day of that period.

The funeral Mass was preceded by a short ceremony in which the Pope's coffin was sealed. First, the body of the deceased Pope was placed in a cypress coffin. After a short period of prayer, the master of liturgical ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini, and the late Pope's private secretary, Archbishop Dziwisz, drew a white silk cloth over the Pope's face. Then the camerlengo blessed the body with holy water. Next Archbishop Marini observed an old Vatican tradition, putting a small purse into the coffin at the Pope's feet, containing specimens of the coins that were struck by the Vatican during his pontificate. Then the coffin was sealed. The funeral itself began with a solemn procession, including the lectors, clerics, and deacons who would participate in the ceremony, as well as the cardinals and patriarchs who would concelebrate-virtually all of the cardinals present in Rome.

In his homily at the funeral Mass for John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger said that the key to understanding the life and pontificate of the beloved Pope can be found in Christ's last words to St. Peter: “Follow me.”

Although the funeral Mass was celebrated mostly in Latin (with Scripture readings in Spanish and English), the dean of the College of Cardinals delivered his homily in Italian. In it he spoke of the Pope's burial as “a seed of immortality.” He remarked that while the world mourns the Pontiff, his funeral is also an occasion for “joyful hope and profound gratitude.”

Cardinal Ratzinger began his homily by acknowledging the hundreds of dignitaries who had traveled to Rome to attend the funeral at St. Peter's Basilica, the hundreds of thousands gathered outside on the streets of Rome, and the countless millions watching the ceremony on television.

Next the German prelate gave a short synopsis of the life of Karol Wojtyla, noting that the late Pope had often referred to his own sense of personal vocation. “He really went everywhere, untiringly, in order to bear fruit: fruit that lasts,” the cardinal said. With his evangelical zeal, he continued, John Paul “roused us from a lethargic faith-from the sleep of the disciplines of both yesterday and today.” His preaching, his teaching, and his remarkable capacity to reach out to people around the world gave “new vitality, new urgency, new attractiveness” to the Gospel message, Cardinal Ratzinger said.

During the last years of his pontificate, John Paul II bore witness to the Christian message in a different way, the cardinal continued: through his “very communion with the suffering Lord.” As his health deteriorated, “the Pope suffered and loved in union with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful.” Now that suffering has ended, he said and as he neared the conclusion of his homily Cardinal Ratzinger remarked that “our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of our Father's house.”


Although the Mass was a solemn ceremony, the homily was interrupted several times by applause. At various other points in the ceremony, cries rang out, calling for the beatification of the late Pope. A few banners were displayed, carrying the simple statement: “John Paul the Great.”

Funeral of Pope John Paul II

Funeral of Pope John Paul II

The cries of “Giovanni Paolo” became more frequent as the Mass neared conclusion, and Cardinal Ratzinger-who was clearly emotionally moved-began the ritual of the Pope's burial. As the Litany of the Saints was chanted, the members of the hierarchy came forward to file past the casket for one final time, paying their last respects. Then the coffin was incensed and sprinkled with holy water and-as the bells of the basilica tolled-a small procession brought the Pope's remains to the Vatican grottos for burial. The faithful in St. Peter's Square were asked to remain in prayerful silence for a few minutes, giving the official delegations time to leave. In the grottos, the cypress coffin was sealed inside two other coffins-one of metal, one of oak-following the time-honored ritual prescribed for a Pontiff's burial, under the direction of the camerlengo. Finally the coffin was lowered into the earth, as the members of the burial party sang the Salve Regina. The burial ceremony-which was not broadcast-ended when the notary of the Vatican basilica, Msgr. Tommaso Giussani, read the formal notice of the burial, which was duly witnessed by the officials present.

John Paul II was buried in the ground, in the oratory of St. Longinus, near the spot where St. Peter's tomb is located. His grave was marked by a simple, inclined, marble marker bearing his name.

The funeral Mass on April 8 was the first of 9 Masses, celebrated on consecutive days, for the deceased Pontiff. The Vatican released on April 7 a schedule for the remaining liturgical celebrations of the novendiali, the Masses prescribed by the time-honored ritual for the death of a Pope. Each Mass was held in St. Peter's Basilica, beginning at 5 in the afternoon.


Immediately after the funeral Mass, the papal apartments on the third floor of the apostolic palace were closed off. The camerlengo supervised the removal of any personal items belonging to the deceased Pontiff, which were to be disposed of according to that Pontiff's last will and testament. Pope John Paul II directed that his longtime secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, should handle the distribution of the few personal items he left behind; the Pope said that all his notes should be destroyed. The papal apartments were to remain sealed until the new Pope entered them.

Now the focus of attention at the Vatican turned toward the coming conclave.

At the daily congregation meeting on Saturday, April 9, the cardinals “unanimously decided to avoid interviews and encounters with the media,” the Vatican reported. In a public statement announcing that decision, the Vatican press office added: “Journalists are therefore courteously invited to abstain from asking the cardinals for interviews or any other comments.” The statement went on to say that the cardinals did not intend to show discourtesy for the media, but merely to preserve the confidentiality of their discussions and to avoid unwanted public speculation.

In the few public disclosures that were authorized by the congregation, the cardinals thanked the officials who organized the funeral for Pope John Paul and the faithful who attended or prayerfully followed the ceremony. They also expressed their sincere thanks to Italian officials who helped to maintain public order during the event, which drew an unprecedented crowd to Rome. After the papal funeral, the Vatican statement said, the cardinals “began a more intense period of silence and prayer” in preparation of the papal election. The congregation began a joint study of the apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis that sets out the rules for the conclave.

Navarro-Valls announced that two cardinal-electors had reported that they would not be able to attend the conclave because of ill health. They were Cardinals Jaime Sin, the retired Archbishop of Manila; and Cardinal Adolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera, the retired Archbishop of Monterrey, Mexico.

At their general congregation meeting on April 14, the College of Cardinals heard the preacher to the pontifical household deliver the first of two scheduled meditations on the state of the Church, as preparation for their deliberations in the conclave. Father Raniero Cantalamessa addressed the cardinals, gathered for the daily meeting in the Synod Hall at the apostolic palace. The Capuchin preacher had been chosen by the cardinals, at their April 7 meeting, to deliver one of the two meditations prescribed by Universi Dominici Gregis, which directs that prior to the conclave, the cardinals should give “two ecclesiastics known for their sound doctrine, wisdom, and moral authority the task of presenting to the cardinals two well-prepared meditations on the problems facing the Church at the time and on the need for careful discernment in choosing the new Pope.” The second such meditation would be preached by Cardinal Tomas Spidlik on Monday afternoon, April 18, after the cardinal-electors entered the Sistine Chapel to begin the conclave.

The proceedings of the cardinals' congregations are confidential, and the Vatican did not disclose details about the content of Father Cantalamessa's address. The press office did disclose, however, that after hearing the meditation, the cardinals “resumed an exchange of ideas on the situation of the Church and the world.” The congregation meetings of the next few days gave the cardinals over 80 their last opportunity to offer their advice to the cardinal-electors before the conclave began.

The papal conclave began on Monday, April 18, with all 115 cardinal-electors concelebrating a Mass pro eligendo summo Pontifice in St. Peter's Basilica. In his homily Cardinal Ratzinger warned against the influences of popular ideology. Cardinal Ratzinger, as dean of the College of Cardinals, was the principal celebrant of the Mass, at which the cardinals asked for God to guide their choice of a new Roman Pontiff. The German cardinal-who had become the main focus of public attention as the conclave began-concluded his homily with a prayer that God “after the great gift of John Paul II, again gives us a pastor after his own heart, a pastor to lead us to a better knowledge of Christ.”

Cardinal Ratzinger's homily was a lengthy one, touching on each of the Scripture readings for the Mass. Reflecting on the first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, he remarked that “the day of vengeance and the year of the Lord's favor come together in the Paschal mystery.” Christians are called to live this mystery and to proclaim it, he said.

In a further meditation on the Letter to the Ephesians, the cardinal focused on St. Paul's remarks about those who are “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” That description, he said, captures the troubles of the current age. “The little ship bearing the thoughts of many Christians has often been shaken,” he explained, mentioning the ideological forces “from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertarianism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism.” In our era, he said, “a dictatorship of relativism is being formed,” which the faith must oppose.

Christians, Cardinal Ratzinger observed, cannot surrender to relativism, nor be governed by ideology, because “we have another measure: the Son of God.” In the day's Gospel reading, he noted, Jesus calls his followers to “bear a fruit that abides.” He called on the faithful, and particularly the cardinal-electors, to “pray to the Lord that he help us bear fruit that abides.”


By Monday the Sistine Chapel was ready for the 115 cardinals who would enter to begin the papal conclave. The famous chapel had been closed to tourists at the time of the funeral for Pope John Paul; later it was swept for electronic eavesdropping devices, and Vatican experts installed a new system to jam any electronic signals. A stove was installed on which ballots could be burned, producing the telltale dark or white smoke. And a series of 12 large rectangular tables were set up, each with 12 simple wooden chairs to accommodate the cardinals during their deliberations.

In the center of the chapel, on a small table of dark wood, stood the book of the Gospels. And at the front, a large crucifix stood on the altar, flanked by 6 candles. There were three chairs facing the altar, to be occupied by the cardinals who were chosen by lot to count the ballots. On one side was the throne that would soon be occupied by a new Roman Pontiff.

The stove installed for the burning of ballots was the same device that has been used at each conclave since 1939. But for the first time, the Vatican press office disclosed, an “electronically controlled auxiliary stove” had been added, to ensure that the smoke emerging from the chimney would be visible to the waiting crowds in St. Peter's Square.

After the cardinal-electors entered the Sistine Chapel in a solemn procession on Monday afternoon, and the doors were closed at 5:30 pm, the 115 prelates listened to the meditation given by Czech Cardinal Spidlik. Then-with the order “Extra omnes” signaling the withdrawal of all but the voting cardinals-the deliberations began.

With a plume of thick black smoke from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel at 8:04 pm in Rome Monday evening, the cardinals notified the world that they had begun their voting, but had not yet elected a pope. The color of the smoke was awaited by thousands of the people who had gathered in St. Peter's Square. When the first puff of smoke came from the chapel chimney, it was at first difficult to determine whether the smoke was black, indicating no decision, or white, indicating the election of a Pope. A few people even shouted, “Bianca, bianca” (“White, white”). But after a few moments, it became clear that thick black smoke was pouring from the pipe. On Tuesday morning, just before noon, black smoke rose from the chimney once again, showing that the two scheduled rounds of voting that morning had not produced a result. But on Tuesday evening, just before 6-nearly an hour ahead of the time when reporters had been told to look for a second signal-smoke became visible. Again there were a few minutes of uncertainty, as observers argued whether or not the smoke was truly white. Then the bells of the Vatican basilica began to toll, eliminating all doubt that the conclave had produced a new Pope.

Shortly after 6:30, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, the senior deacon of the College of Cardinals, appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to deliver the heavily awaited announcement. After greeting “dear brothers and sisters” in several languages, he gave the traditional Latin formula:

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; Habemus papam!

Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Josefum, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger, qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedicti XVI.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been elected the 265th Pope, and taken the name Pope Benedict XVI.

The crowd in St. Peter's Square-which had quickly filled the square, and spilled out on the Via della Conciliazione after the white smoke was spotted-interrupted Cardinal Medina Estévez's announcement with cheers, first after he said “Habemus papam” and again after he gave the name “Ratzinger.”

The new Pontiff then appeared, smiling and waving, to offer his first public words as Pope. “Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyards.”

Interrupted by applause, the new Pope eventually added: “I am consoled that the Lord can work and act with inadequate instruments, and especially that you will keep me in your prayers.”

Again interrupted by cheers, the Pope concluded: “In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, let us go forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, his most holy Mother, is at our side.”

Pope Benedict XVI then gave his first pontifical blessing, and after spending a few more moments to acknowledge the cheers of what had become a vast throng, retired inside the apostolic palace.


In a statement released shortly after his death and read at the end of the Sunday Mass, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that “the world needs to understand and welcome Divine Mercy!”

The Pope's statement, prepared before his final illness, was released on the feast of Divine Mercy: Sunday, April 3. Pope John Paul, who had established that feast on the calendar of the universal Church, and was a great proponent of the Divine Mercy devotion, died just as the liturgical celebration of the feast day was beginning, with Vespers on Saturday evening.

Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the deputy Secretary of State, read the Pope's message at noon on Sunday, after the public recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer. In the message, John Paul II remarked that Jesus offers his infinite mercy to man, “who so often seems lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism, and fear.”

“It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace,” the Pope continued. He offered the prayer of the Divine Mercy chaplet: “Jesus I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the entire world.”

The Divine Mercy devotion was popularized by St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who was beatified, then canonized, by Pope John Paul II. St. Faustina had related her vision of Jesus, appearing to her with streams of light emerging from his heart, asking that a feast be established after Easter in honor of his mercy. During the April 3 recitation of the Regina Caeli-the Marian prayer that replaces the Angelus during the Easter season-an image of Jesus as seen by St. Faustina was placed in the center of St. Peter's Square.


Top Vatican officials gathered around the Holy Father in the morning of April 1, but it would be Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo who would come to the fore with the Pontiff's death. The Spanish prelate, who is prefect of the Congregation for Religious, also holds the office of camerlengo: the key figure in the period of transition between Popes. He would certify the death of the Pontiff, in the presence of Msgr. Piero Marini, the master of pontifical ceremonies; and Msgr. Enrico Serafini, the notary for the papal household. The camerlengo supervises the administration of the Holy See during the transitional period. The camerlengo is responsible for destroying the Pope's official seal, which is placed on formal papal documents, and the “fisherman's ring” that is the sign of his office as Successor to Peter.

The College of Cardinals set up temporary committees to oversee the necessary work of administering the Holy See, and to arrange the papal conclave. But the cardinals hold no power to govern the Church during the interregnum. In his apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis in 1996, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that no act of Church governance-such as the appointment of a bishop or acceptance of a bishops' resignation, or the publication of any teaching document-is valid until a new Pope is elected. Nor can the cardinals amend or correct the acts of previous Popes-including those that govern the process of a papal election.

When the Pope's death is announced, all cardinals are called to Rome for the funeral. At the time of Pope John Paul's death there were 183 cardinals, of whom 117 were under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to participate in a papal election. Pope John Paul II had elevated 170 of the living cardinals, and all but 3 of those eligible to choose his successor.


Over 200 heads of state attended the funeral for Pope John Paul II.

The influx of world leaders for the ceremony showed the enormous regard for Pope John Paul II among international leaders. Not a single president attended the funeral of his predecessor, John Paul I. And only three government heads-the presidents of Malta and Zambia, and the former president of Lebanon-were in attendance when Pope Paul VI was buried in 1978.

In an unofficial account of the dignitaries present, the Vatican press office listed 10 ruling kings and queens, 57 heads of state, 3 hereditary princes, 17 heads of government, and 3 leaders of international organizations. There were also 8 vice-presidents, 6 deputy premiers, 4 parliament leaders, 12 foreign ministers, and 24 ambassadors. Altogether, about 150 countries were represented.

American President George W. Bush was among the first world leaders to announce his plans to attend the funeral. President Bush, who was accompanied by his wife Laura, was the first US president ever to attend a papal funeral.

The world's religious leaders were also heavily represented, including Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople; Metropolitan Kirill, the chief ecumenical officer of the Russian Orthodox Church; Catholicos Karekin II of the Armenian Apostolic Church; Archbishop Christodoulos of the Greek Orthodox Church; and Grand Rabbi Shlomo Amar of Israel. Altogether there were 17 delegations from other Christian denominations, along with 2 Jewish groups.

Many of the foreign dignitaries who came to Rome had met with the Pontiff frequently, both at the Vatican and during papal voyages to their own countries. Poland sent a particularly large delegation to honor its native son, led by President Aleksander Kwasniewski, former President Lech Walesa, and Prime Minister Marek Belka.

The Pope's funeral caused some notable meetings about these world leaders. At the Kiss of Peace, the various dignitaries exchanged greetings, and for the first time, Israel's President Moshe Katzav shook hands with Syria's Bachar al Assad.


When the Vatican released the text of Pope John Paul's last will and testament, on April 7, many media outlets announced that the Pontiff had seriously considered resignation. In fact, the text never mentions that topic-although one ambiguous passage did provide the basis for some speculation.

The document contains few provisions for John Paul's material possessions. “I do not leave behind me any property that requires disposal,” he writes. Instead the Pontiff offers a spiritual testament, in 15 pages of reflection on his life and pontificate.

Pope John Paul first wrote his will in June 1979, updating it on several later occasions. In the initial document he directs that “my personal notes are to be burned.” All his other possessions are to be “distributed as may seem opportune.” He asks his longtime private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, to supervise this process.

In a 1982 addition to the document, the Pope raises the possibility that his funeral might be held in his native Poland. (Although he does not mention the issue, presumably he might have been buried there as well.) But three years later, in a 1985 addition, he leaves the College of Cardinals to decide the site of the funeral.

Throughout the document, the Pope repeats his confidence in the Virgin Mary and his trust in God's will. He declares in the 1979 document that he is prepared to die. He repeats his belief-made public frequently during his lifetime-that his life was miraculously saved during the assassination attempt in 1981; he adds that only “Divine Providence” prevented the outbreak of nuclear war later in the 1980s.

The Pope's spiritual testament-to which he added several times during the annual Lenten Retreat at the Vatican-shows that he considered the year 2000 as the culminating point of his pontificate. Prior to his election, he reveals, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the former Primate of Poland, said that the main task of the next Pontiff would be to guide the Church into the 3rd Christian millennium. In March 2000, having fulfilled that goal and declared the Jubilee Year, John Paul revealed that he wondered how long he would be expected to continue leading the Church. The March 2000 entry is the last one in the document. It is this passage-in which the Pope seems to be discussing the approach of death-that triggered stories about a possible resignation.

Here is the much-discussed passage, written during the Lenten Retreat at the Vatican in 2000:

1. When, on October 16, 1978 the conclave of cardinals chose John Paul II, the primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski told me: “The duty of the new Pope will be to introduce the Church into the third millennium.” I don't know if I am repeating this sentence exactly, but at least this was the sense of what I heard at the time. This was said by the man who entered history as the primate of the millennium. A great primate. I was a witness to his mission, to his total entrustment. To his battles. To his victory. “Victory, when it comes, will be a victory through Mary”-The primate of the millennium used to repeat these words of his predecessor, Cardinal August Hlond.

In this way I was prepared in some manner for the duty that presented itself to me on October 16, 1978. As I write these words, the Jubilee Year 2000 is already a reality. The night of December 24, 1999 the symbolic Door of the Great Jubilee in the basilica of St. Peter's was opened, then that of St. John Lateran, then St. Mary Major-on New Year's, and on January 19 the door of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. This last event, given its ecumenical character, has remained impressed in my memory in a special way.

2. As the Jubilee Year progressed, day by day the 20th century closes behind us and the 21st century opens. According to the plans of Divine Providence I was allowed to live in the difficult century that is retreating into the past, and now, in the year in which my life reaches 80 years (octogesima adveniens), it is time to ask oneself if it is not the time to repeat with the biblical Simeon, Nunc Dimittis.

On May 13, 1981, the day of the attack on the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Divine Providence saved me in a miraculous way from death. The One Who is the only Lord of life and death Himself prolonged my life, in a certain way He gave it to me again. From that moment it belonged to Him even more. I hope He will help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service to which I was called on October 16, 1978. I ask him to call me back when He Himself wishes. “In life and in death we belong to the Lord ... we are the Lord's.” (cf. Rm 14,8). I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfill the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service.

Pope John Paul II frequently mentioned the influence that Cardinal Wyszynski had on his life and his thought, and here he again pays tribute to former colleague in the Polish hierarchy. The words of his mentor had an obvious effect on his pontificate: he devoted enormous attention to the preparation for the Great Jubilee, obviously considering that event the most important focus of his ministry. Now, with the celebration of the Jubilee well underway, the Pope allows himself to wonder whether he has completed his primary mission.

But does that mean he considered resignation? Or did he think that, with his main work as Pontiff completed, he could now expect God to call him home-and even pray for that release? Again, the text allows either interpretation.

Throughout his spiritual testament Pope John Paul writes about his preparation for death. The reference to the Nunc Dimittis should surely be read in this context. Approaching the age of 80, with his health already slipping badly, John Paul was making himself ready to accept death. Subscribe Story Tools print, email, discuss, store Related News · In Rome's cathedral, Pope explains his authority · Ever Ancient, Ever New · First papal trip: Italy's Eucharistic Congress · The Church, Italian politics, and American neoconservatives · The Future Pope Speaks · Italian president visits grave of John Paul II · John Paul II remembered, one month after death


Glossary Terms: conclave, Nuncio, Coadjutor, Ordinary, Sostituto, Congregation for Eastern Churches , prelate, Apostolic Signatura, Camerlengo, Vatican Secretary of State, Pontifical Household


Primary: Camerlengo

This used to be one of the most important offices in the Vatican, responsible for managing the papal states and administering justice therein. It also was in charge of managing the papal household's finances. Today, there is only one real function for the Camera, and that is to manage the Holy See upon a pope's death.

As caretaker the Holy See during the sede vacante period, the camerlengo has the responsibility formally to certify the death of the Pope; to seal off the papal apartments; to preside at prayer services for the deceased Pope and supervise his burial; to summon the world's cardinals to Rome; and-- together with 3 other prelates elected by the congregation of cardinals at their first meeting-- to handle the day-to-day management of Vatican affairs. He has the primary responsibility for preparing the conclave-- including, in modern times, the task of sweeping the Sistine Chapel to ensure that there are no electronic devices in place to eavesdrop on the cardinals' deliberations. The camerlengo continues with these management tasks through the election of the new Pope, at which time his importance quickly diminishes.

Primary: Sostituto

The sostituto-- the Italian term means "substitute"-- is deputy to the Vatican's Secretary of State. He presides over the First Section of the Secretariat of State, an extremely influential office that handles all day-to-day affairs of the Holy See. All important appointments to the Roman Curia pass through this office, as do most Vatican documents, and reports from representatives of the Holy See in other countries. The office of sostituto has been held by many extremely influential prelates, including Popes Pius XII and Paul VI.

Primary: Apostolic Signatura

This is the final court of appeal for annulments and other juridical matters under the Church's canon law. With origins in the 15th century, it owes its current form to St. Pius X. According to the New Catholic Dictionary, "It exercises delegated jurisdiction regarding petitions to the Holy Father for the introduction of certain causes before the Sacred Rota.