Philippines bids farewell to Pope

By Sarah Toms 
BBC, Manila

Millions of people in the Philippines, home to Asia's largest Catholic Church, marked Pope John Paul II's funeral. 

At home and at work Filipinos watched the television as the Pontiff was laid to rest. 

Workers, officials, business leaders and students, carrying banners and photographs of the Pope, slowly made their way in a candle-lit procession. 

They gathered in Manila's Luneta Park, where the Pope himself drew huge crowds 10 years ago. 

Philippine police said 20,000 people came to pay their last respects. 

Four giant screens were set up so worshippers could watch the burial live from the Vatican. 

Tight security 

The park has a special significance in the Philippines, which is home to 65 million Catholics. 

It was here that Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass with five million Filipinos during his second visit in 1995. 

A huge photograph of the Pope served as a backdrop for the stage and altar, where the Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Rosales, was to deliver a special open-air Mass after the Pope's funeral. 

Police were placed on full alert to guard against any possible security threats from Muslim rebels. 

People from other faiths were also invited to the gathering, highlighting the Pope's efforts to build bridges between all religions. 

But millions more Filipinos stayed at home, saying their final prayers and watching the Pope's funeral live on television.

08/04/2005

Bron : BBC News

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