04/09/2005, 00.00
ASIA - VATICAN
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Prayers and mourning for Pope's funeral throughout Asia

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – From Iraq to China, in Iran, India as well as Russia, many Catholics gathered to watch the funeral of Pope John Paul II live on TV or to attend a mass in his memory. Many non Christians came along to share the moment.

AsiaNews offers here an overall view of how John Paul's last day was experienced in several Asian countries.

Japan

In Tokyo's Saint Mary Cathedral a Eucharistic celebration was held yesterday morning. Prince Naruhito attended the ceremony on behalf of Emperor Akihito.

China

Chinese authorities blocked all internet news about the Pope's funeral. In retaliation against the presence of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian at the funeral, they did not broadcast the event live as scheduled. However, the ban did not prevent churches throughout the country, both official and underground, from celebrating memorial masses for the Pope.

Thousands of worshippers attended a memorial mass in Shanghai's Saint Ignatius' Cathedral and prayed for the late Pontiff.

Philippines

About 20,000 people took part in a prayer march and an open memorial mass in Manila's Luneta Park where John Paul II himself had presided over a ceremony that drew five million people in 1995. Four giant screens broadcast the funeral live from St Peter's Square.

Filipino bishops called for the march to highlight the Pope's legacy—his focus on "the Gospel of life against the culture of death" —and to promote it in Filipino society at a time when the Filipino Congress is debating laws contrary to the family and nascent life.

Vietnam

Hundreds of people met in Hanoi's St Joseph's Cathedral. Many wore a white ribbon around their head which is the traditional symbol for losing a father.

Sri Lanka

A private TV stop normal programming to broadcast the Pope's funeral live after being flooded by phone calls from spectators.

India

John Paul II' funeral was broadcast live on a giant screen in the House of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.

Thousands of people participated in the Pontiff's memorial mass in St Thomas' Church; another Eucharistic celebration was held in Delhi's cathedral.

Pakistan

Yesterday Christian schools observed a day of mourning for the Pope's funeral. In Karachi Catholics met in St Patrick's Cathedral for a memorial mass to honour John Paul II.

Iran

Friday afternoon about a thousand Catholics attended a memorial mass for the Pope in St Joseph's Church in downtown Tehran. The Speaker of Iran's parliament Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel was present to "express the sympathy of the Iranian people towards its Catholic compatriots".

Iraq

Yesterday several hundred people gathered at St. Joseph's Chaldean Church in Baghdad for a special memorial mass for Pope John Paul II. Patriarch Emmanuel Delly presided over the celebration.

The Pope won the hearts of everybody because he worked for the good of all," said Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly.

In a show of solidarity, five Shiite Muslims, including a cleric from Iran, reportedly attended the event.

Tajikistan

The country's tiny Catholic community, which is concentrated in the capital of Dushanbe (400 people in a population of 6.6 million), watched the Pope's funeral live after attending a religious celebration in Dushanbe's St Joseph's Church. A few dozens of the faithful met in the church's hall to watch the ceremony live from Rome.

Russia

Hundreds of people saw the Pope's funeral on a giant screen inside Moscow's Mary Immaculate Cathedral. Many Orthodox Christians as well as non believers were present to pay tribute to the late Pontiff.

Russian state television chose not to broadcast the event.

Turkey

A few hundred Catholics gathered Friday night at Istanbul's Holy Spirit Church to pray for the Pope in a mass celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio Edmond Farhat. Representatives of the Eastern Catholic Churches as well as Orthodox Church and some Muslims took part in the ceremony. (LF)

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