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Following the Pope's Instructions

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When he announced Pope John Paul II's death April 2, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls added that Vatican officials were following all of the procedures called for in rules written by the pope in 1996.

The rules are contained in the apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis" ("The Shepherd of the Lord's Whole Flock").

When Pope John Paul died, those at his beside included his longtime secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, and two old friends: Cardinal Marian Jaworski, the Latin-rite archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine; and Father Tadeusz Styczen, a former student of the pope's, now a professor in Poland.

Following the rules outlined by the pope, those with the pope when he died informed the camerlengo, or chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, Spanish Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, who officially verifies the pope's death. He places seals on the pope's study and bedroom. The pope's personal secretaries and the nuns who work in the papal apartments are permitted to stay until after his funeral, at which time the entire apartment is sealed.

Navarro-Valls said immediately after the pope died several others arrived: Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state; Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, assistant secretary of state; and Archbishop Paolo Sardi, the vice chamberlain.

Other procedures called for in the apostolic constitution include:

-- The chamberlain notifies the papal vicar for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who informs the city's citizens.

-- The chamberlain or the prefect of the papal household, U.S. Archbishop James Harvey, is charged with informing the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The dean calls the other cardinals to Rome and informs ambassadors accredited to the Vatican of the pope's death.

-- The chamberlain also calls a meeting of three cardinals to plan the pope's funeral and burial, unless the pope has left specific instructions. The three cardinals are the senior members of each of the three "orders" of cardinals: cardinal bishops, cardinal priests and cardinal deacons.

About three hours after the pope's death, Navarro-Valls announced that the pope's body is expected to be taken to St. Peter's Basilica "no earlier" than the afternoon of April 4 for public viewing and prayer.

The first general congregation of cardinals to discuss the pope's funeral and the mourning period and to begin planning for the conclave to elect his successor was scheduled for the morning of April 4 in the Apostolic Palace, Navarro-Valls said.

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