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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Special Coverage of Mourning of Pope John Paul II

Aired April 4, 2005 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer, with Judy Woodruff, here in Washington.
It's been an extraordinary day at the Vatican, as the crowds of mourners continue to file past the body of Pope John Paul II inside Saint Peter's Basilica.

Let's rejoin CNN's Jim Bittermann. He's on the scene for us in Vatican city.

These pictures are really amazing pictures, Jim, as we see these thousands file past John Paul II.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amazing pictures and an amazing day.

In fact, Wolf, it's an incredible crowd out here tonight. And the day is not over for them, because they are going to continue filing past the pope's body until about 2:00 this morning. The Vatican officials say they have just got to close the Saint Peter's for a couple of hours to clean and also to start installing some equipment that's going to be needed for the pope's funeral.

This crowd is big enough that we could be out here all night. They could be out here all night filing past the body. You could probably see over my shoulder here that the lines go right up to the front door of Saint Peter's. What you can't see is that, behind the camera, the lines stretch back toward the river here by -- for at least 500 yards or more.

So, there are just tens and tens of thousands of people out here. I think, for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, this is a historic occasion. There hasn't been a pope's body on display here for 26 years. There hasn't been a papal transition for 26 years. So, I think that is one thing that has brought a lot of people out.

Now, during the day today, we saw the pope's body moved from inside the Apostolic Palace on the shoulders of 12 pallbearers and it was accompanied by a group of cardinals who have already started to arrive here in town for the papal -- papal funeral. And they performed -- celebrated a liturgy of the word at the pope's side as the body was placed just in front of the altar of Saint Peter's. Of course, that's an altar that the pope celebrated mass in front of many, many times during his 26 years -- Wolf. BLITZER: Jim, you were inside with a group of journalists earlier today and actually had a chance to see Pope John Paul II's body. What was -- what was that like?

BITTERMANN: Well, that was a pretty emotional experience, I must say. The fact is that -- and I'm not sure if these people will have exactly the same experience. Perhaps they will. But in the Sala Clementina, it's a much smaller room.

And there was priests leading prayers and leading the rosary and songs as people walked up to the body. And, you know, I think that the solemnity of it all was just something that was immediately striking. And people got quiet even 2,300 feet away from the room. People just stopped talking, stopped uses the cell phones, which they do incessantly here in Italy, and basically got very reverent as they approached the pope's body.

And it's a very moving scene. And accompanying the pope almost all during the day today, even before that ceremony you saw, there were cardinals, archbishops, who, praying at the pope's side, even in the Sala Clementina. So, it was a pretty emotional experience.

One of the reporters said to me, you know, I feel like an orphan. And I said, so, you're going to have another pope soon. And she said, yes, but it will be like getting a new father after your father has died. You have to sort of adapt to this new father figure in the family. And it won't come easily -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Bittermann reporting for us. We'll be getting back to you, Jim. Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: And not too far away from where Jim is, our Aaron Brown is also at Vatican City overlooking Saint Peter's Square.

Aaron, you are able to see and hear things that we can't. Be our eyes and ears for us.

Well, we said that Aaron is able to see and hear, but, unfortunately, we can't hear what Aaron is saying. We can see him, but we can't hear.

BLITZER: We'll fix that.

WOODRUFF: We're going to come back to him -- him -- in just a moment.

Aaron, we'll be right back to you as soon as we can fix that.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, Catholics, we know, have had a growing effect on politics through the years.

CNN's Bruce Morton reports that the church's political influence has evolved from economic issues to more fundamental questions of life and death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the 1930s, the 1940s, most white Catholics were working class. They focused, their church focused on economic issues like Social Security. That's changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have moved up to the middle class. Many of them are in the upper class. They don't worry about economic issues any longer. That means their issue set is a little bit different.

MORTON: They are more concerned with issues of life. The Republicans have noticed this and have courted them on those issues. The president, talking about Terri Schiavo, used a phrase that Pope John Paul II used often.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected.

MORTON: The pope's culture of life differs from the president's. John Paul opposed the war in Iraq. The president started it. John Paul opposed the death penalty. The president supports it.

But on issues like abortion and stem cell research, they agreed. and, in fact, the president carried white Roman Catholics in last fall's election, 52 to 47 percent over John Kerry, himself a Catholic, but at odds with his church over abortion.

White Catholics have become perhaps the most important swing bloc in our presidential elections, going with the winner in every election since the 1970s.

They voted for Bush in 2004. They voted for Bush narrowly in 2000. But they voted for Clinton two times in the 1990s. They voted for Bush's father and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

MORTON: They may be the old Reagan Democrats, focused more now on social issues than economic ones. They can go either way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudolph Giuliani, for example, is a Catholic, but a Republican. However, most of the Democrats in the -- most of the Catholics in the Senate and House are still Democratic.

MORTON: And the church's leaders in America have criticized politicians in both parties. Democrat Mario Cuomo as governor of New York and Governor Tom Ridge as governor of Pennsylvania were both criticized for their stands on abortion.

So, part of the pope's legacy in American politics is a phrase, the culture of life, and a group of voters, white Roman Catholics, who often decide American elections.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce, so interesting to think about the nexus between politics and the Catholic faith, religion in general.

We said a moment ago that Aaron Brown is our set of eyes and ears overlooking Saint Peter's Square.

But, Aaron, we couldn't hear you. I think we can hear you now.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we'll try.

What I was going to say is that it's actually a lovely perch to stand or sit over looking over the square, watching people, listening to the hymns. There's a sense of antiquity there, to be honest. These buildings are beautiful and ageless, and yet there are these giant video monitors that have been set up, too.

When you talk to people here -- we have talked to a number of American bishops and priests -- they all understand that, in this moment, there is a great sense of Catholic unity. And the Americans particularly understand that, in this moment that is to follow, there are great challenges for the church. American Catholics in many ways are what one described to me as cafeteria Catholics. They pick and choose among the dogma.

And it is incumbent upon the church and the church's leaders to explain better the church's beliefs, to have those who believe in the church and believe in Catholicism to accept them. So, they -- they are looking at this moment and taking this moment in for both the sorrow and joy it represents to them, the joy of the ascension to heaven of John Paul, but they also know that the stages ahead are critical to the church's future and development in the United States.

And so it's a complex set of emotions that one finds among particularly American Catholics who have assembled here.

WOODRUFF: Cafeteria Catholics, that's a term we could do a little more exploring of -- Aaron Brown with us at the Vatican, as he has been for several days now, over looking Saint Peter's Square. Aaron, thanks very much.

Pope John Paul II won the respect and admiration of people around the world.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll visit a place here in the United States that celebrates this pope and his extraordinary life.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Work to continue the heritage of John Paul II will continue well after his death. One place where that work is being done is on the campus of Washington's Catholic University.

Our Brian Todd takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the sprawling complex that bears his name, visitors, mourners appear throughout the day. Just signing condolence books brings an outpouring from three generations of one family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, thank you for loving us, praying for us and all your sacrifices for us and for the whole world.

TODD: But emotional contrast is palpable at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. This is, after all, a place that celebrates a vigorous spiritual life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is on this building. And why should his name be on this building? Not because he was a pope, but because he was a prophet of our times and probably one of the greatest men of our times.

TODD: The pope himself once said he did not want this center to be a monument to him. But, in many ways, it cannot help but be that. Exhibits director Dan Callahan takes us through the Papal and Polish Heritage Room, where garments worn and donated by the pope date back to his days as Karol Wojtyla.

(on camera): This was a biretta that he wore as cardinal of Krakow.

DAN CALLAHAN, EXHIBITS DIRECTOR, POPE JOHN PAUL II CULTURAL CENTER: That's correct. And that was, of course, in the late '70s. We have a photograph here of the holy father wearing it as he went into the conclave which elected him hope.

TODD (voice-over): A miter he wore as a bishop, a stole and zucchetto he donned as pope are brought out. His cassock, cape and sash stay under glass.

CALLAHAN: This is the pope's uniform, if you will, outside of mass.

TODD: But, in here, you also get a complete picture of the man, from a pair of skis he wore in the 1980s to the Presidential Medal of Freedom he got from George W. Bush less than a year ago, to a more curious gift from another head of state.

CALLAHAN: It's described to us as a nautilus shell. Why it's significant is that Fidel Castro presented it to the pope as a gift when the pope visited Cuba.

TODD: A life seen through treasures, pictures, spirit in a place that has now significantly changed.

CALLAHAN: Suddenly, these articles, which were already dear to us, become priceless. They are tangible memories of what -- who the man was, who the priest was, who our spiritual leader was.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: But this place is not about to become a shrine. The executive director tells me they are moving toward making this center a place to broker more understanding between all religions and maybe even one day hold peace talks. That, he says, would be one of the pope's greatest legacy -- Judy.

BLITZER: And -- Wolf -- Brian, how open is this museum, this place on the campus of Catholic University, to average people just to simply go there and pay their respects? Short of going to Rome, this might be an opportunity for a lot of our viewers to have an opportunity and spend some time with the -- with this pope.

TODD: Wolf, it really couldn't be more open. It's been open all weekend, Saturday, Sunday. It is a wide-open door in here. The place is huge.

You can come in and sign the condolence books at the very front of the building here. And anybody is really free to walk through. There is not a huge, heavy security presence here, so it really does give the air of being very, very open and accessible to just about anyone who wants to come.

BLITZER: Brian Todd joining us live from the Catholic University in Washington -- thank you, Brian, very much.

Father David O'Connell is the president of this university.

Who came up with this idea to create the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center on your campus?

REV. DAVID O'CONNELL, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: It was really the brainchild of Cardinal Adam Maida, the archbishop of Detroit.

And early on, before the center was built, the notion of having a place that could not only be a monument to the papacy, but also a place that could be kind of an intellectual forum, a think tank for the Catholic Church, related to the Catholic University, but distinct in purpose and in mission.

It is a museum and, at the same time, it's a place of prayer. I was over there very early this morning, before anyone was in. And I walked -- I have been in it 100 times. But just walking through, looking at the exhibits, the pictures, the memorabilia from the pope, it just gave me goosebumps just to see it all again.

WOODRUFF: Interesting that this pope gets in his -- has in his name a center like this, but not every pope...

O'CONNELL: That's true. And I...

WOODRUFF: ... would get this sort of treatment.

O'CONNELL: It's like you were saying earlier.

This pope, there was more of a closeness with the United States and a closer relationship with the American people. And I think the fact that people supported the construction of this is an indication of that.

BLITZER: Father O'Connell is going to be staying with us. Good work with that Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.

(CROSSTALK)

O'CONNELL: Oh, I wish I could take credit for it.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Well, you're the president of the university. I have been there.

I don't know if you've been there, Judy. But it is very impressive.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And those pictures, that young cardinal.

O'CONNELL: Yes.

BLITZER: He was how old when he became cardinal?

O'CONNELL: He was 47 when he was first appointed a cardinal. I just can't imagine being that young.

WOODRUFF: Yes, and 58 when he became pope. But the skis that he used in the 1980s.

O'CONNELL: Even the shoes, the size 13 pair of red shoes. I said on a program this morning, they are big shoes to fill.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Huge shoes to fill, and in more ways than one.

All right, thank you, Father O'Connell.

Two days after his death, Pope John Paul II is being remembered around the world, also in cyberspace.

WOODRUFF: Coming up, we'll go inside the blogs to see how much attention the pope's death is getting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: You may not be surprised to know the death of Pope John Paul II is attracting a great deal of attention from the bloggers.

We check in now with Jacki Schechner -- she's our blog reporter -- and CNN political producer Abbi Tatton. Jacki, Father David O'Connell of Catholic University telling me that the first thing he saw on the blogs this morning was some very critical comment about the pope. Is that typical of what you're seeing?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the blogosphere is so massive, Judy, that you are really going to find opinions on all sides of every issue.

And there are some comments that aren't as reverent and as supportive as you might imagine. But one comes to mind, TheRudePundit.com, but we weren't going to show it, because it was a little over the top. But you can check that out, if you would like. We're going to start a little tamer with thepopeblog.blogspot.com, not the pope's actual blog, but one that covers what is going on in the world of the pope.

And it has here the latest update, "The Pope's Body Moved to Basilica." It doesn't have a lot of links, but it does have summaries. And it's a place that a lot of people are linking to for information.

Something for a little more in-depth information, we go over to AmyWelborn.typepad.com. This is open book. This is the top 2005 Catholic blog, as nominated by readers and as awarded. And she has got some interesting links. You can post your memories of John Paul II and compare them with other readers. You can comment on the media coverage. You can read about what Catholics experienced yesterday in church in the aftermath of the pope's passing.

And then an interesting link. She links to AmericaMagazine.org, which has a frequently asked question section that they are constantly updating to give you an idea of what happens now.

ABBI TATTON, CNN PRODUCER: For blogging from Rome, we got to Father Roderick Vonhogen, a priest from the Netherlands who blogs here at CatholicInsider.com.

I love this graphic here. You can imagine he's probably quite a progressive priest, if this is the graphic he has on the front of his site. At CatholicInsider, you can see the pictures he has taken there in Saint Peter's Square. You can read his thoughts. But you can also hear his thoughts.

This priest is podcasting. That is, it's kind of an audio blog. You can go on the site and listen to his thoughts, what he's seeing all around him. So many people are downloading these things today, these podcasts, that it's become the No. 1 podcast on the Internet right now.

SCHECHNER: Some people looking for more information like that. Some people have had enough. JamesWolcott.com, a "Vanity Fair," contributor, says, "the slow-drip media death watch of Pope John Paul II." He posted this on Saturday, before the pope died. He said, "They have talked his death to death before having the decency to let him expire first." TATTON: And, of course, not everyone is full of praise for the pope or the Catholic Church here.

Emmanuel Schiff, this is a poli-sci, a political science student, in Israel. He's saying that the pope was way too conservative on many issues, but also progressive on many other things, such as relations with Jews. Emmanuel goes on to look at who the next pope might be. He's got his list of the top five on his site here.

This is something very popular amongst bloggers today. They are looking at what happens next.

SCHECHNER: The question is, who is willing to bet on it? And HughHewitt.com, one of the top political sites -- he's on the conservative side -- has a link.

It says, "The bookies have opened the window on wagering on the next pope." And it links to BetFair.com. It has got cardinals. What's the name?

TATTON: Arinze was No. 1.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHECHNER: Arinze, thank you. And Tettamanzi was the other one. Those are the two that were at the top.

If you go to the Astute Blogger, he's also got his top favorites. Those are linked in bold. He says keep in mind that Pope John Paul II's name wasn't on anybody's list when he actually became pope. So, the front-runners aren't necessarily the guys that you're going to get -- Judy, Wolf, back to you guys.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Jacki.

A quick question, Father O'Connell. What was that comment that you woke up with this morning when you went to the blogs?

O'CONNELL: It was pretty much summarized -- I can summarize it this way, just saying that they were glad that the pope is gone. And it just was said in such an ugly way.

You know, people have the right to their opinions. But it's the incivility in the comments that really bother me, not only about the blogs relative to the pope, but blogs in general, just uncivil discourse, a lack of total intellectual civility.

WOODRUFF: Well, Jacki and Abbi were saying, about every opinion there is, you can fine it in the blogs.

O'CONNELL: That's for sure.

WOODRUFF: OK.

BLITZER: We're going to take another quick break. When we come back, they are taking some steps up on Capitol Hill to remember this pope. Our Joe Johns is standing by. We'll go there right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: here in Washington on Capitol Hill, a draft resolution honoring Pope John Paul II is being circulated in the Senate.

Our congressional correspondent Joe Johns is with us now with more on this.

Joe, some very delicate wording here.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly.

Delicate wording is the thing to say, I think, Judy. During his life, the pope challenged American politicians in a number of ways. And now it's very clear, when you take a look at this resolution some of the Senate drafters are trying to put together, members of the Senate appear to be trying to basically scratch their heads and figure out a way to come up with a document that is bipartisan and noncontroversial.

Now, of course, when you look at the pope's life, this life, there's no agreement, there's no disagreement at all. But when you look at some of the political issues he's taken, the pope has spoken out against the Iraq war, euthanasia, the death penalty, abortion. And when we look at the draft that they have got, they are apparently just trying to leave all of that out. For example, there is one thing on page six of this document we picked up that talks about the pope's encyclical letter of 1995.

And it speaks of him writing of the incomparable worth of the human person, noting that, even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize the sacred value of human life and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree, soaring language, of course. But look what was left out.

We went to the actual encyclical letter of 1995 and we find there's a reference to natural law written in the heart left out, but, more importantly, the sacred value of human life from its beginning until its very end. So much of the pope's language about the sanctity of human life, of course, has been adopted by people who oppose abortion in this country. It makes it a bit volatile to try to put into a resolution to get everybody to agree on.

They tell us this is still draft language, Judy. So, who knows what it will look like when it hits the Senate floor.

WOODRUFF: But we assume it will hit the floor and will pass when it comes up.

JOHNS: And they are trying to get as many votes as possible, of course, both Democrat and Republican. And that's the trick with this language.

WOODRUFF: All right, Joe Johns at the Capitol, thanks very much.

BLITZER: And our coverage of an extraordinary pope continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Solemn majesty: the body of Pope John Paul II is carried into St. Peter's Basilica, past tens of thousands of mourners. As the pope lies in state, millions are expected to gather for a final farewell. President Bush will lead the American delegation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, my great honor, on behalf of our country, to express our gratitude to the almighty for such a man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: We'll go live to Rome, and we'll look at the pope's impact on America.

CNN' special coverage of "An Extraordinary Pope: John Paul II" continues with Wolf Blitzer and Judy Woodruff in Washington.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. We are back. It is the top of the hour now, meaning it is 11:00 p.m. in Rome.

BLITZER: It's been a day of mourning in Vatican City, and the procession of mourners continuing, even at this late hour. Thousands have filed past the body of Pope John Paul II, two days after his death at the age of 84. 12 pallbearers carried the pontiff's body to Saint Peter's Basilica, where the pope will lie in state until Friday's funeral. The pallbearers were accompanied by the pope's Swiss guard.

The procession was accompanied by cardinals and dozens of priests, chanting the litany of the saints. They called John Paul the people's pope, and today the people got to say good bye. The doors to Saint Peter's Basilica were thrown open to the public and thousands of mourners waiting outside were allowed to begin filing past the pope's body.

It's now very late into the evening at the Vatican but the procession continues.

CNN's Jim Bittermann is on the scene for us. He's joining us live from Vatican City. Jim?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the people just continue to arrive here. It's absolutely amazing. The doors are going to be shut at about 2:00 in the morning, which is just a few hours from now, and yet people still continue to arrive. I'm sure there are going to be some disappointed people this evening because they're going to have to shut the doors to do some cleaning and technical work inside the basilica, and there are going to be people that are not going to get in tonight.

This, I think whether you're Catholic or non-Catholic alike, people feel this is just an historic occasion they should turn out for it, and one of my great privileges, Wolf, over the last 26 years has been to cover this papacy from the beginning to now its end. It has been an historic papacy, no doubt about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BITTERMAN (voice-over): For me, this was the hardest thing to take, seeing the pope gasping and rasping and trying to talk. John Paul II was the man we called the great communicator.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: God loves you.

BIT: And it was painful to remember how well he had once communicated, how vital and animated. You see that old video, the pope with his actor's sense of timing and minimalist gestures. He never lost it, not even at the end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pope's popularity may help the church through a difficult theological period.

BIT: Little do those of us who started trailing the pope back in 1978 know what a long and wide path we were on. But then, he didn't either. Have no fear of the unknown, he once said, step out fearlessly. He always did. Even after fearless behavior very nearly cost him his life one awful day back in 1981.

His writings were sometimes clear, sometimes obscure. When he confronted communism on those two early trips to Poland, his words and his body language could not have been more direct. At other times, as in Castro's Cuba, he used us to do his heavy lifting, avoiding straightforward confrontation, full well knowing that we would scour the papal speeches and count how many times he managed to say the words freedom and liberty in other contexts. And then write how tough he'd been.

It was amazing how effortlessly he won over the media. Early on, he got to know many in the Vatican press corps personally, and would ask about their families. But, we were always in the back of the plane, the pope and his aides up front. And as time passed, there was less and less opportunity to have any contact with John Paul. Once in awhile, the Vatican would arrange a photo-op for journalists, but just that. The last full-fledged news conference he held was on the way to Cuba in 1998.

After that, physically, he was in a steady and inexorable decline. Even so, the papal events still could amaze you: those incredible crowd scenes, the never-ending ways people would reach out to him. There's nothing better for a journalist than to feel like you're witnessing history. And right up to the end of the road with John Paul, we always did.

The sad thing to me is that, especially for younger people, this is the memory many will have of the pope. The memory I prefer to save is something like this one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BIT: Wolf, when people ask me sometimes why we're spending so much time devoted to the pope and pope's funeral, I bring this up, the whole idea that, you have to remember those early days, as well as the last days to really appreciate the pope. Wolf?

BLITZER: And Jim Bittermann, you've done some incredible reporting for us over these past decades. Thanks so much for sharing your personal thoughts on this occasion. Jim Bittermann reporting from the Vatican City.

WOODRUFF: That was really wonderful, seeing those scenes of the pope when he was a younger and a more vigorous man. He took over the papacy at the age of 58 but he continued to be strong for many, many years.

Also standing by at the Vatican for us, CNN's Aaron Brown. Aaron, I think you were the one who said this, the last time we spoke with you. People come to the Vatican to pay their respects with different emotions, and they bring and they take away many different things.

BROWN: Yes. Just looking at it -- we have a shot from up here of, it's a kind of a tight shot of the line of people moving in. There's a small shrine behind it that's been built. And you just try to imagine, because that's all you can do. You can't talk to each of them, but you try to imagine, as they walk through that long line what it is that they're thinking, what moment it was in the pope's 26 years that particularly touched them.

We remember seeing him, just listening to Jim a moment ago, we remember seeing him in Fairbanks, Alaska, as a young man, when he met with President Reagan, and how, as a young reporter, how powerful that moment felt. We saw him again in Havana. But at some moment in his papacy he touched each of these people, but touched them differently. And so each of them, as they moves through, carries a different memory, and a different hope, and a different dream, and a different fear, and it's quite powerful.

I said earlier today at one point, television does a lot of wonderful things and can show you many remarkable things. But what we can't yet show you is exactly how people feel. And so we just have to look down sometimes and try and imagine.

WOODRUFF: And as I listen to you, Aaron, I think you're right. Some people, for some people, there will be one moment in this papacy; for others there may be several. I remember a young -- a new pope who came to the White House in 1979, and yet I remember other moments throughout the last decade, two decades and a half, where this was a very changed, and a matured pope.

BROWN: Well, you know, I've often thought that I didn't understand exactly what a, as a non-Catholic, didn't really understand what a pope meant until I saw him in Fairbanks that first time, and it wasn't -- and it was watching the people around me.

There was this nun who had come down from, way down from the bush in Alaska, and made this long journey to be at the airport to catch a glimpse of the pope for just that split second, because that's all it lasted. And to see the tears in her eyes and the power of the moment was, for me, to understand, for the first time, not simply John Paul, because his record was just then beginning to be written, but to understand the power of a pope on people, and something that's gone on for hundreds of years. Perhaps in this pope, differently, more powerfully, and in some respects, I think, in a more lasting way than others.

WOODRUFF: Aaron Brown, there at the Vatican, over-looking Saint Peter's Square. Aaron, thanks very much.

We've been talking, Wolf and I have, this afternoon, with Father David O'Connell. Your personal memories of this pope; I know you've been talking about them, but, talk about it some more.

O'CONNELL: You know, it's I think hard sometimes for people who are older to understand those of us who spent our entire ministry under the guidance and shepherding of Pope John Paul. In many ways our ministry as priests, or as religious, is intrinsically tied up with this man. We almost define it by Pope John Paul, because he has been the pope throughout our entire careers. He's been the one whose teaching we've tried to implement and apply. And he really has just such a strong hold on our life, and everything that we're all about, and it's really a very interesting time for us, as we, for the first time in our ministry, transition.

BLITZER: I think, Father O'Connell, everything is sort of tradition. The whole process between the death and the funeral, for example, as we look at these pictures of the crowds continuing to pass by the body of pope John Paul II, what he's wearing right now. Talk a little bit about that, the colors, for example.

O'CONNELL: Well, what he's wearing are the vestments that a priest or a bishop would wear to celebrate the mass. And because the Eucharist is so central, the mass is so central to our life as priests, and to the life of the church, he's buried with those vestments on his body and the traditional color of red, which is the color of martyrdom. It is the color of passion. He's buried in those colors.

And you notice all around, we're talking about tradition, those Swiss guards, they look so odd to us. You know, they've been around since 1506. And their sole responsibility is to take care of the pope and protect the pope. It's a very interesting thing.

BLITZER: I want to listen briefly to the chanting that's going on, that was going on as they carried his body, these 12 pallbearers. Let's just listen to that for a second.

(CHANTING)

BLITZER: Father O'Connell, what is that chant? O'CONNELL: It's the Latin version of the litany of saints. And it would be done for a funeral like this. But it's particularly poignant when you consider that this man canonized 482 people as saints, more than the last 17 predecessors.

WOODRUFF: So are they saying the names of saints?

O'CONNELL: They're saying the names, you know, pray for us. And St. Mary pray for us, Saint Francis, pray for us. Ora pronovis. (ph)

BLITZER: The Swiss guard, and we see them dressed around the pallbearers, are they all Swiss?

O'CONNELL: Yes.

WOODRUFF: And are they armed?

O'CONNELL: They're not armed with guns or things like that.

WOODRUFF: They're a guard, but they're not...

O'CONNELL: You see those...

BLITZER: If you, Father O'Connell, were to have gone to Rome and walked past the body of Pope John Paul II, imagine a) how you would have felt, but b) what would you have said? What prayer would you have said? What would you have done?

O'CONNELL: I think I would have been fairly well filled up. The prayer I would have made would be, take him home. Bring him home.

BLITZER: He's either there already or he's on the way.

O'CONNELL: He's maybe looking down at us, praying for us right now.

BLITZER: Father O'Connell is going to stay with us, Judy, throughout this hour and help us better understand what we're all watching.

This is clearly making history. And President Bush will become the first American president to attend a pope's funeral. We'll hear the president's personal memories of meeting Pope John Paul II. We'll get some insight into their relationship. That's coming up.

WOODRUFF: Plus, the pope and Ronald Reagan. Two great communicators, with several similarities. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan shares her memories. Our special coverage continues ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Live pictures from the Vatican, Saint Peter's Basilica. The body of Pope John Paul II lies in rest as thousands, tens of thousands, continue to walk past.

Welcome back to our continuing coverage. The world remembers an extraordinary pope, John Paul II.

WOODRUFF: His body has reached Saint Peter's Basilica where it will lie in state until his funeral on Friday. Our special coverage continues.

BLITZER: First, let's get a quick check of some other stories in the news.

U.S. military officials in Iraq say Saturday's insurgent assault on the Abu Ghraib prison was well-coordinated with attacks on multiple locations at the same time. The military says 40 to 60 insurgents stormed the Abu Ghraib facility. At least 23 U.S. troops and 13 detainees were wounded. An Internet statement says the attack was carried out by the group led by Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

The first Medal of Honor of the Iraq war was awarded today, exactly two years after Army Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith died protecting fellow soldiers at Baghdad International Airport. The military says Smith saved dozens of lives when he grabbed a machine gun and held off Iraqi attackers. His 11-year-old son accepted the medal from President Bush.

And a spokeswoman for Britain's Prince Charles says his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles will be postponed from Friday to Saturday, because of the pope's funeral. The prince will attend the funeral as the representative of the royal family; Parker Bowles will not attend.

WOODRUFF: The White House says the president and Mrs. Bush will fly to Rome on Wednesday to attend the pope's funeral. CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash has that and more on the president's day.

Hi again, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, again, Judy.

The official delegation will be quite small, just five people, two of whom will be the president and the first lady. And today the president said the pope showed the world how one person can make a difference in people's lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): The president says he looks forward to leading the U.S. delegation to the pope's funeral, noting his lesson, and legacy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: One man can make a difference in people's lives. He's a courageous person. He's a moral person. He was a godly person.

BASH: Mr. Bush was the last of five presidents to know John Paul II.

BUSH: I can remember him taking us out on the balcony of this fabulous palace overlooking a magnificent lake, and talking about his views of -- of the world. It was a moment I'll never forget during my presidency.

This is so beautiful your holiness.

BASH: There, the pope warned the president he had a moral duty to ban stem cell research, not just limit it. It was Mr. Bush's first taste of John Paul II's penchant for blunt talk with American presidents.

Another, his staunch opposition to the defining event of the Bush presidency, the Iraq war, a controversial subject at their last Vatican meeting.

BUSH: He was a man of peace, and he didn't like -- he didn't like war. And I fully understood that. And I appreciated the conversations I had with the holy father on the subject.

BASH: It's the peaceful transition to democracy from communism the pope is being remembered for helping start, especially in his native Eastern Europe. The kind led by the president's guest, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, invited to highlight what Mr. Bush sees as a major gain for democracy and freedom. But Mr. Yushchenko made clear to the president, listening to the will of his people means pulling Ukraine's 1600 plus troops out of Iraq.

BUSH: He's fulfilling a campaign pledge. I fully understand that. But he also has said that he's going to cooperate with -- with the coalition.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (on camera): And the fact that Victor Yushchenko was here today is perhaps a bit ironic, because he, perhaps, personifies some of the changes in the part of the world where Pope John Paul II is credited for helping start those changes. Of course, many looking to him as somebody who worked very hard before he became pope, and of course after, to start the fall of communism -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Dana Bash at the White House. Thank you, Dana.

BLITZER: And, when we come back, differing paths to two great destinies: the former First Lady Nancy Reagan shares her memories of Pope John Paul II, and her husband Ronald Reagan.

WOODRUFF: Plus, celebrating the culture of life: more on the pope's influence in American politics. Our special coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We're continuing our coverage of Pope John Paul II, an extraordinary pope. These are live pictures from Saint Peter's Basilica, where his body lies in rest.

For many Americans, the scenes of public mourning at the Vatican today are especially familiar. There was a similar outpouring of grief here in the United States just a few months ago, following the death of former president Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan and the pope came from very different backgrounds, but many people say they had a lot in common.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just wanted to say, I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to visit with you again in this place of peace.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: I am grateful for the opportunity to show you, again, of my great esteem for all the people of the United States of America.

BLITZER (voice-over): Ronald Reagan was born in 1911, in the midwestern United States. Karol Wojtyla was born nine years later, thousands of miles away in Poland. But from the very beginning, they had some of the same interests.

As a schoolboy, Karol Wojtyla loved skiing, hiking and swimming. Ronald Reagan loved athletics, too. He worked as a lifeguard and he played college football.

Both men went on the stage. Wojtyla joined an experimental theater group. Friends say he was a gifted actor and a fine singer. He also wrote plays. Reagan began acting in school. He was so good at it, he went to Hollywood. By the 1940s, Reagan was a popular movie star. During the same decade, Wojtyla became a priest. They were very different paths to a very similar destiny.

NANCY REAGAN, FMR. FIRST LADY: They were very much alike. I mean, these were two men who were former actors, they both loved the outdoors, natural sports-minded, and good at sports. And they shared the title of great communicator, both of them.

BLITZER: With Italians dominating the papacy, it seemed unlikely that a Polish priest could ever become a pope. It seemed just as unlikely that a movie star could ever become President of the United States. Ronald Reagan and Karol Wojtyla both defied conventional wisdom. In 1966, Reagan was elected governor of California. One year later, Wojtyla became a cardinal. And in 1978, he became Pope John Paul II. Two years after that, Ronald Reagan was elected president.

After just 69 days in office, President Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt. Less than two months later, the pope was wounded in an assassination attempt. Both men recovered from serious wounds, and forgave their attackers. When the two met, there was an obvious affection.

REAGAN: His holiness and I have just concluded an exchange of ideas, and his obviously were better than mine.

BLITZER: The pope and the president shared a strong sense of humor, and a conservative outlook on many issues. Like Reagan, the pope was credited with playing a major role in the collapse of the Communist Bloc. COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: When he spoke to the Polish people, it was a message that said, you will be free. Stay with it. Do not give up the fight.

BLITZER: When Ronald Reagan died last year, the pope sent a letter of condolence to his widow, Nancy, calling the former president a "noble soul."

N. REAGAN: He was in Switzerland when Ronnie died, and he was very shocked.

BLITZER: Less than a year later, John Paul is dead, too. From very different beginnings, they had arrived at very similar destinations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (on camera): I don't think it's a coincidence, Judy, either, that it was during the Reagan administration when the United States formally established diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

WOODRUFF: They shared so many views about politics, and about their faith. All right.

Well, the world mourns the passing of Pope John Paul II.

BLITZER: As the public gets its first chance to pay respects, we'll go live to the Vatican. Plus, a look at John Paul II's influence in American politics and society. Our special live coverage will continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: CNN's special coverage of an extraordinary pope, John Paul II, continues. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff.

Mourners by the thousands are paying their respects to the late pontiff. His body now lies in state inside saint Peter's Basilica, which will be open almost around the clock through Friday, Italian officials predicting two million people will view the body between now and then. John Paul II was moved from his palace to the Basilica today in a grand and solemn procession. His funeral is scheduled for Friday, starting at 10:00 a.m. local time. President and Mrs. Bush will be among those attending.

BLITZER: We want to go back to the Vatican now.

That's where our CNN Vatican analyst, Delia Gallagher, is standing by.

Delia, all of this is pretty well scripted. Have there been any surprises, significant surprises, since the death on Saturday?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one thing stands out for sure. And that is the televised images of the pope's body.

There had been pictures. John the XXIII, Paul VI had pictures taken and published. But this is the first time that we've seen a televised image of the pope. And even today, we saw the televised pictures of his body being brought from the Apostolic Palace. So, you got an inside look there at some of those beautiful Vatican rooms coming out, then, through the Basilica.

So, I think that is very much in line, of course, with this pope. He was the pope of the media, the pope of communications, and so one can consider it sort of a final tribute by the media also to this pope. Wolf, I did want to clarify a thing that we were talking about earlier. That is with regard to security here.

You were asking about metal detectors. And for most of the people that come on a regular day to the Vatican, they do have to go through metal detectors. Tonight, there are no metal detectors. There of course is security. But it's very behind the scenes, let us say. So, they are letting the crowds flow through on their own -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Delia Gallagher, giving us additional information. We'll be getting back to you, Delia. Thanks for clarifying that, Delia Gallagher at the Vatican -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, with the pope's death comes the task of choosing a successor.

Joining us once again to talk about that process, Father David O'Connell. He's the president of Catholic University.

To put it bluntly, is there a short list?

REV. DAVID O'CONNELL, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: I really don't believe there is. It certainly is nothing that anyone is going to talk about.

I would say that I'm sure that the question that is in the minds of the 117 electors is not so much at this point who, but rather what is it that we want to see in the next pope?

Do you think those are questions? Clearly, people have begun to think about that. But, when does one know whether there's a consensus around that?

O'CONNELL: I don't think there will be much of a consensus until after they actually get in to the conclave, because it is just inappropriate, and really in a way forbidden for them to have these kinds of conversations in any public way at this point.

But I have heard, watching the various reports on CNN and otherwise, that many cardinals are talking about things that they hope for. And I think that's the way the conversation will go. What they hope for will start to gel a bit, and then it will move into certain sets of things that will have some consensus shared.

WOODRUFF: And are you hearing what they're hoping for?

O'CONNELL: I think they're hoping for someone who is going to have -- to maintain the continuity of clarity of this pope, but someone who is also going to be able to speak in a very significant and meaningful way to a new generation of people, a new generation of Catholics and a new generation of human beings.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: I was going to say, does that mean a younger person, I mean, younger than this pope was, 58, when he took over?

O'CONNELL: I don't know what will be in their mind. Of course, a younger person presumably means a longer pontificate. So, it's going to depend on how they feel as they reflect together on the length of this pontificate.

BLITZER: And the phrase a smoke-filled back room, in this particular case, they might be smoking and we'll be looking for smoke, whether white smoke or black smoke. But it's not -- we're not going to be getting leaks out of there on who's emerging.

These cardinals are sworn to secrecy, and if anything comes out, technically, they could be excommunicated.

O'CONNELL: They could be sanctioned. There actually is an oath that they take when the conclave begins. And I don't think there's any smoking in Santa Marta.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Father O'Connell, the president of Catholic University, has been a great help to all of us.

A delight to share some thoughts with you. You're going to be back with us in the coming days. Appreciate it very much.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Father.

O'CONNELL: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. Thank you.

BLITZER: And the pope's lasting legacy in America. We'll have much more on his impact on society and politics. That's coming up.

WOODRUFF: Plus, strong devotion and fond memories of Pope John Paul II. Our Mary Snow talks with Polish Catholics in New York City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

The pope strongly opposed President Bush's choice to lead the invasion of Iraq. But on other controversial issues, the two men saw eye to eye. CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us with that -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, you know President Bush respected and admired Pope John Paul II. But did you know he also borrowed a key idea from the pope?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The culture of life is the new catchphrase of social conservatives and President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others.

SCHNEIDER: For conservative activists, the most vulnerable citizens include both unborn children and disabled persons like Terri Schiavo. They're part of the new culture of life agenda.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: We must build a culture of life that welcomes and defends all human life.

SCHNEIDER: Conservatives have won power. Now they are broadening their agenda from family values to the culture of life, following the example of the late Pope John Paul II, according to religion scholar Michael Novak.

MICHAEL NOVAK, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: He always saw the connection between abortion and euthanasia. That is, if there's an ability for someone to make a decision about life at the beginning, then it's going to happen at the end, and with modern medicine, all the more so.

SCHNEIDER: The culture of life agenda encompasses opposition to stem cell research.

BUSH: I will work with Congress to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown from body parts, and that human life is never bought or sold as a commodity.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush even alluded to it in a recent radio address when he talked about school shootings.

BUSH: To keep our children safe and protected, we must continue to foster a culture that affirms life.

CROWD (singing): I once was lost.

SCHNEIDER: Some figures in the Republican Party establishment find the culture of life agenda threatening. Former Senator John Danforth writes, "The problem is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement." But, for Pope John Paul, the phrase culture of life would likely also have encompassed opposition to the death penalty and to the war in Iraq, a broad, humanitarian agenda.

NOVAK: The culture of life, meaning an attitude of generosity, an attitude of concern for the weakest among you and so forth.

SCHNEIDER: The culture of life is a simple and powerful idea. The strong must protect the weak. Conservatives say that means at the beginning of life and at the end of life. Their critics ask, what about in between?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: There are those who love the fetus and want to starve the babies. There are those who want to love Terri and then ignore long-term health care.

SCHNEIDER: It would seem that the political battle is not over whether the strong must protect the weak, but when.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: American conservatives seem to have appropriated the culture of life theme to advance their agenda. To Pope John Paul II, however, it was not a liberal or a conservative idea. It was humanitarian.

WOODRUFF: That's interesting, as you pose it, that it could come down to when.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: When. When does one intervene.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: OK, Bill Schneider, thanks very much -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Judy.

And joining us now from New York to share some thoughts on the influence of Pope John Paul II, Catholic Church -- and the Catholic Church, our CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Is it fair to say, Jeff, that this pope had some significant impact in shaping American attitudes toward Catholics?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Yes, I think his papacy was part of a long-term change.

You have to remember -- it's hard to remember sometimes -- you go all the way back to the 19th century and you find an often virulent strain of anti-Catholicism in American life. The Irish and then Italian and German and Polish immigrants met it. In the 1920s, the resurgent Ku Klux Klan, which was very powerful in many states outside the South, was as anti-Catholic as it was anti-black as anti-Semitic. Al Smith in 1928 and even John Kennedy in 1960 met some opposition because of their faith. Now, I think you have to go back to an earlier pope, John the XXIII, who opened up the church and began to lessen people's fears about the Catholic Church. But, clearly, by going to synagogues and mosques, by going to non-Catholic Christian churches, Pope John Paul II really helped erase whatever lingering sense there was that the pope of Rome was out for some kind of world domination, which was a big part of anti-Catholic bigotry for many, many years, Wolf.

WOODRUFF: But, Jeff, at the same time, what about the traditional views that this pope held with regard to abortion, same- sex marriage, and stem cell research using embryonic stem cells?

GREENFIELD: Yes, I think I would see two political consequences.

One was that conservative evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics began to form a kind of informal and, in some case, actual political alliance. And, if you go back a few decades, the idea of an alliance between those two groups would be unlikely. I mean, by 2004, you had a Texas born-again Methodist carrying the Catholic vote against a Catholic nominee, something that, a few decades earlier, would have been, I think, almost impossible.

I also think that the forcefulness with which Pope John Paul II talked about many of these issues gave, to some American Catholic clergy, a sense of being more assertive in criticizing and even condemning some pro-choice Catholic politicians. We saw in the last couple of years a number of pro-choice Catholics being threatened with and, in some cases, actually being denied communion or being forbidden, being barred from speaking in parochial schools because of their positions.

And I think the vigor with which John Paul II carried those views gave a lot of Catholic clergy the sense that it was time to speak up, something, again, a few decades ago, I don't think you would have seen many Catholic clergymen involved in that kind of direct quasi- political activity.

BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, our senior analyst in New York -- Jeff, thank you very much.

When we come back, mourning in America.

Polish Catholics share their special memories ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It has been another remarkable day at the Vatican. And we take another look now at the sum of that solemn splendor.

BLITZER: What's coming up are some of the sights and sounds, as a procession of cardinals led the body of Pope John Paul II from the palace through Saint Peter's Square to the Basilica, where he'll lie in state until Friday's funeral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What spectacular sights and sounds, Judy.

WOODRUFF: You really can't take your eyes off of it.

BLITZER: An amazing day.

WOODRUFF: We've seen those pictures over and over again, you and I, sitting here. And you can't take your eyes off of it.

BLITZER: I can only imagine what it might be like in person to see that. It's really amazing, even on television.

We'll take another quick break. When we come back, we'll go live to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Our Mary Snow is standing by there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): She is known by some as the woman who broke up the Beatles. By others as a misunderstood artist with a passion for world peace. An avant-garde superstar in her own right, Yoko Ono married John Lennon in 1969 and gave birth to his son, Sean, six years later. She was by her husband's side when he was gunned down outside of their New York City apartment building in 1980.

Since his death, Ono has remained active in causes she views as keeping Lennon's spirit alive. In 2003, she started the Lennon/Ono Grant for Peace which is awarded to people who benefit the human race.

YOKO ONO, WIDOW OF JOHN LENNON: It's the type of thing that John would have approved, and he would have loved to see happen. And I thought it was very important that this award is created.

ZAHN: Yoko Ono is now 72 years old, a senior citizen with a hippie sensible. Her song Every Man, Every Woman hit the charts in late 2004. Yoko is also collaborating with former Beatles Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison's widow, Olivia, to create a new Cirque Du Soleil show at the Mirage in Las Vegas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It is just about 3 1/2 minutes before midnight on yet another extraordinary day in Rome at the Vatican, where you can see the long procession of people filing by to look at and pay their last respects to Pope John Paul II.

BLITZER: Judy, Polish Americans in particular are mourning the death of this pope.

Our Mary Snow is live outside Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City with that part of the story -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there are approximately four million Catholics here in New York. And throughout this city, the scene is much like the one here at Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

Right now, the daily mass is going on. But it is packed. Throughout the day, people have been coming into the church to pay their last respects. And there's one church here in New York that has a very special bond with Pope John Paul II. And it's in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): Young and old, they stop at the statue of Pope John Paul II to offer prayers, flowers and light candles. Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the closest you'll get to Poland in New York. And Saint Stanislaus has the largest Polish population of any church here.

Just about any of the parishioners you meet has a strong devotion to Poland's native son, Rita Lucas among them. She and her husband made three trips to Rome to see the pope, the first in 1980.

RITA LUCAS, SAINT STANISLAUS PARISHIONER: All I was able to tell him was that I'm from Brooklyn, and I spoke in Polish, and from Saint Stanislaus Parish. And he just raised his eyes and he said: "I remember. I was there."

SNOW: When pope John Paul was a cardinal, he visited Greenpoint in 1969. And the people here never forgot. There are reminders of him everywhere, even has a street named after him.

When Rita Lucas sees the thousands of people gathering at Saint Peter's in recent days, she says she counts herself among the lucky ones because, she says, the pope touched her life.

LUCAS: It strengthened my faith and gave me more compassion, I guess, as an individual to people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We flew together on a plane going to Rome.

SNOW: Stella Grizek (ph) proudly displays her pictures with the then cardinal and later pope. She has been to Rome seven times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have for so many years, different popes, Italian popes. Finally, we have a Polish pope. And for Polish people, that was the bigger honor. Unusual thing happened to us.

SNOW: Stella is hoping to make her way to Rome to attend Friday's funeral, in her words, to complete the circle. And she considers herself fortunate to have met him.

And, for those who did not...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You miss something tremendous. The feeling -- if you would be with him --- I don't know. He has some kind of a power, some holiness. I mean, I'm Catholic, but, I mean, for the first time, when he touched me -- and I sincerely mean it -- this is not a person from this Earth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: One woman we spoke with says she doesn't know if she will ever be able to bond with a pope the way she bonded with John Paul II -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mary Snow, thanks very much.

We want to remind all of you, the public viewing for Pope John Paul II now under way at the Vatican at Saint Peter's Basilica, the funeral on Friday.

BLITZER: And to our viewers, please stay with CNN for continuous live coverage of these historic days. The world remembers Pope John Paul II.

For Judy Woodruff, I'm Wolf Blitzer.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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