Saying Farewell: The Funeral of John Paul II | K. V. Turley | CWR blog
Sitting on a plane bound for Rome as the funeral fast approached, and with only sketchy plans of what to do next, I knew one thing—I had to be there.
Pope John Paul II had been ill throughout 2005 and though his death was anticipated when it did come on April 2, it was still a jolt. And it was the whole world, not just the Catholic world, which appeared jolted by it. Surprisingly, British media outlets, normally no friends of the Catholic Church, were awash with praise for the late pontiff, the front cover of one left-leaning daily simply proclaiming: John Paul the Great. Perhaps, in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been so surprising; after all, greatness is greatness.
On arrival I headed to St. Peter’s, where the lying-in-state was taking place, and joined the long, snaking queue that encircled the famous church. By now, it was 6 pm local time. The queue was long and moved slowly, very slowly; it was going to be a long wait.
When you spend hours standing in a line, you become curious about the others who are doing so. In front were some young people, a school or youth group—perhaps understandably, at that age, interested only in each other. A couple stood next to me; we got talking. They too had heard the news and knew they had to come, all the way from Venezuela. My flight had taken a couple of hours from London. Their flights had taken much longer—almost a day’s journeying. Their desire to be there was moving, with the privations of the long wait seemingly of no account. Looking at them, I could only feel shame at my inward moaning about having to wait so long.
Behind us there was another distinct group.