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Pope Nears His End
VATICAN CITY Pope John Paul II was near death as dawn approached Saturday, his breathing shallow and his heart and kidneys failing, the Vatican said. Millions of faithful around the world paid homage, many weeping as they knelt with bowed heads, others carrying candles in prayer for the 84-year-old pontiff.

The pope "is on the verge of death," Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, head of the Vatican's health care office, told the Mexican television network Televisa. "I talked to the doctors and they told me there is no more hope."

Addressing the crowd at St. Peter's Square, where as many as 70,000 people prayed and stood vigil in the chilly night, Angelo Comastri, the pope's vicar general for Vatican City, said "This evening or this night, Christ opens the door to the pope,"

At times the huge gathering fell so silent the sound of the square's trickling fountains was audible. At other points, the crowd sang, "Stay with us!" But as dawn approached, the numbers in the sprawling plaza diminished. Many of those who stayed wrapped themselves in blankets and gazed tearfully at John Paul's third-floor windows, where the lights remained in the pope's studio and his secretary's room. The papal bedroom was not lit. Source.

Saturday April 2, 2005