- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2005

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Just before he died, Pope John Paul II stared from his bed at the window of his airy, sparsely furnished Vatican bedroom, looking toward the crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square and whispered “Amen,” according to accounts of the pontiff’s last moments.

Although the Vatican has not confirmed either story or given its version of John Paul’s final words, two accounts say the pope’s last utterance was “Amen,” Hebrew for “may it be so” and the traditional close of a prayer.

The Rev. David O’Connell, president of Catholic University in Washington, told CNN yesterday that a cardinal, a friend whom he did not identify by name, recounted that just before the pope died Saturday he grasped the hand of his long-serving private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.

“And looking out the window, the curtains were not drawn, he was looking out the window. And he said, ‘Amen.’ And then he passed on — beautiful, touching communication, a sense that it was finished, it was over,” Father O’Connell said.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica quoted the Rev. Jarek Cielecki, a Polish priest, as saying that the 84-year-old pope raised his right hand as if to offer a blessing to those reciting the rosary in the square.

“Once the faithfuls’ prayer ended the pope made a huge effort and pronounced the word ‘Amen,’” he said. “An instant later he died.”

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