Catholics around the world have been reacting to today’s events. First and foremost in Jean Paul II’s home country of Poland, at churches in Krakow where the pope studied and served as archbishop, there were twice the usual number of faithful attending early morning mass.
Russian Catholics have been praying for the pontiff ever since the Vatican announced a deterioration in his health earlier this morning. “With all the Catholics of the world,” one woman said, “we pray and imagine ourselves in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.” Meanwhile in Mexico, where the people there have a special affection for the pope following his visit in 1979, the faithful have been gathering at the Basilica of Guadalupe. Carlos Aguiar, Secretary General of the Mexican Council of Bishops spoke of the shared sadness of this time. “But at the same moment,” he said, “I think that all of us carry in our hearts a profound gratitude towards God for what Pope Jean Paul II has represented to our country and the immense love we feel for a man we call the Mexican pope”. Prayers and blesssings have also been said for the pope in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem. At the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, Palestinian pilgrims have been joined by believers from around the world to pray. And also in the strongly Catholic Philippines, faithful have been coming together in silent prayer and lighting candles for Pope Jean Paul II.