Vatican City - Vatican official today provided detailed plans for the burial of Pope John Paul II. One detail that is sure to anger some longtime Pope-watchers is the plan to bury Pope John Paul in the grave used by Pope John the XXIII.
Fans of Pope John Paul II have expressed dismay that this most beloved of Popes is being forced to face the ignominy of a second-hand grave. One mourner, who gave their name simply as "Carlotta" had this to say, "I think it is disgusting that they are planning to doing this to John Paul. He is one of the most important people in the world but he gets an old tomb. I think if he were in his grave, he would be rolling over now."
While some understood the need to reuse Papal graves, the choice of John the XXIII's left many scratching their heads. "Look, no offence to John," said Len Sharp, 44 of Topeka, Kansas, who traveled to Rome with his family for the festivities, "but he was Pope for what, 3 or 4 years? [The Papacy of Pope John XXIII was from 1958 until 1963]. John Paul was in there for way longer - he should have gotten better treatment than that."
While the question of the freshness of the tomb troubles some, other aspects of the funeral and burial plans have raised greater concerns. Among the plans causing the greatest concern is the announced use of the US Navy's "Blue Angels" precision flying squadron. Concerns with this plan are based on several factors. First, there are questions about the separation of church and state enshrined in the US Constitution, secondly, many wonder if having military planes reflects appropriately the Pope's stand on peaceful resolutions to international conflicts.
Another concern has been the explosion of officially licensed Papal merchandise - some of which is already appearing at vastly inflated prices on eBay. For example, a giant foam "JPII was #1" hand, which are being sold for €19 are fetching upward of $300 on the popular auction site.
Vatican Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the problem with this sort of entrepreneurship is that the Church is seeing no part of the profit. "People who think that they will profit by the death of the Holy Father should reflect on the messages of our Lord Jesus Christ when he said, ‘Render unto Cesar that which is Cesar's.' In this case, I interpret that to mean ‘show me the money.'"
Despite these minor issues though, all involved are sure to be touched and amused by the terrific plans being cooked up by the Catholic leadership.