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World watches funeral

Associated Press

Manila, Philippines — Gazing at oversize TV screens, thousands of Filipinos watched Pope John Paul II's funeral Friday from the seaside park where he oversaw the largest audience of his 26-year papacy. In Poland, the pope's homeland, sirens in Warsaw announced the start of the Vatican ceremonies.

An estimated 4 million people jammed Manila's Rizal Park for John Paul's youth Mass in 1995. John Paul had been scheduled to return two years ago, but the long voyage apparently was considered too taxing for his frail health.

In Paris, an overflow crowd of about 7,000 worshippers filled Notre Dame Cathedral. At the Sacre Coeur basilica overlooking Paris from the hill of Montmartre, about 500 worshippers watched the funeral on two giant screens installed inside.

Bells rang throughout Austria to mark the start of the funeral, including the country's famed Pummerin, a bell rung only on special occasions. A tower at Vienna's famed St. Stephan's cathedral was draped with black cloth, and church buildings posted black banners of mourning.

In Poland, some 300,000 people gathered in a vast field in Krakow to watch the funeral. More people streamed into the Blonie meadows, where John Paul celebrated several Masses during his visits to the city in which he studied for the priesthood and served as bishop and archbishop.

"We think it will take a few hours, this whole ceremony, but for the pope, you can make a sacrifice, you can spend the long hours," said Dominika Cholewa, 17.

In Warsaw, sirens wailed for three minutes at the start of the funeral. In the pope's hometown of Wadowice, some 15,000 people packed the square in front of St. Mary's Basilica, where he was baptized.

Throughout Asia, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs joined Roman Catholics in church services and prayers to honor the pope, who has been highly praised for reaching out to other faiths.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales called the gathering of the faithful in Asia's most populous Roman Catholic nation a ``celebration of life" for John Paul, who endeared himself to Filipinos with two well-received visits, along with prayers in troubled times.

The pope drew massive emotional crowds in 1981 as well as 1995.

"He said goodbye, but in the hearts of Filipinos, he still lives on," said Bing Saracarpio, who was selling flags and T-shirts with the pope's image.

Teresita Anudo traveled from Cavite, 40 miles south of Manila, for a front seat near the park's grandstand. "I need to see him for the last time," she said, recalling how she waved at him at Manila airport in 1995.

In Tokyo, hundreds of government officials and dignitaries were among an estimated 1,500 Japanese who packed a memorial Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, spilling outside under a hot sun. Mourners - some veiled in black, others dabbing their faces with towels - watched the service on a TV screen atop a truck.

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, urged people to carry on John Paul II's legacy of peace.

"Firstly, we lost a great human being, a leader of a great religion but also one very good human being," the Dalai Lama said during a trip to Japan. "Now it is important that we must carry all his messages and guidance with us. We must make every effort to fulfill his wishes."

In overwhelmingly Buddhist Sri Lanka, where the pope visited in 1995, the top private TV station ART interrupted regular programming to broadcast the funeral live after receiving hundreds of phoned requests. A special Mass was scheduled at St. Lucia's Cathedral in Colombo.

In Australia, some 14,000 people filled a cricket ground in Adelaide for a memorial service for the pontiff - who last year criticized Australia for its secular trends and warned that attending Mass on Sunday should not become subordinate to a ``secular concept of `weekend' dominated by such things as entertainment and sport."

In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, more than 4,000 people, including representatives of the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities, attended a memorial Mass late Thursday at St. John's Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur.

Back in Europe, in Slovakia, several thousand gathered for an open-air Mass near Bratislava in the spot where the pope had celebrated a Mass for 200,000 faithful during his last trip here in 2003.

"I'm very sad that the Holy Father is no longer among us," Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said after the Mass. "I am well aware of what he has meant for Slovaks, for myself and my nearest ones."

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