PM praises 'impressive' Vatican funeral

8th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — As the nation's sole official representative, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he witnessed an "impressive funeral service" for Pope John Paul II on Friday.

8 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — As the nation's sole official representative, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he witnessed an "impressive funeral service" for Pope John Paul II on Friday.

Speaking via his spokesman, the prime minister also said the huge crowd of faithful gathered on St Peter's Square demonstrated again "the great importance of the Pope for a lot of people".

Balkenende was also impressed by the applause and the sea of flags, asserting that they proved again the strong bond between John Paul II and Catholics. The Christian Democrat CDA leader also praised the role the Pope played for youth.

He said he was pleased to represent the Dutch government at such a special event, newspaper 'De Telegraaf' reported.

However, he was the nation's only official representative. In contrast to most European royal families, the Dutch royal family decided against attending the funeral.

The Government Information Service (RVD) gave no other reason than to say that Balkenende's presence was sufficient — a decision which drew sharp criticism on Friday.

The funeral of Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in Rome was eventually watched by millions of people around the world.

He was buried in St Peter's Basilica after a funeral attended by 200 world leaders. A huge crowd of pilgrims had packed St Peter's Square and spilled onto surrounding streets.

The funeral was also closely followed in Poland, his native country. More than 20,000 people gathered in the town of Wadowice in southern Poland, where the Pope was born as Karol Wojtyla in 1920.

Some 800,000 people watched the funeral on a giant video screen in the city of Krakow and a 26-gun salute was held in the Polish capital, Warsaw, 'Radio Netherlands' reported.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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