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Breaking News: Pope Dies at 84

Pope John Paul has died at age 84.

The Vatican announced the pope's death in an e-mail.

The e-mail said, quoting here, "the Holy Father died this evening at 9:37 p-m in his private apartment."

The announcement came from papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls (wah-KEEN' nah-VAH'-roh vahlz) and was distributed to journalists via e-mail.

The e-mail goes on to say that as John Paul wrote in 1996, all procedures for handling his death have been put in motion.

A Mass is scheduled for St. Peter's Square tomorrow morning.

The pope died after suffering heart and kidney failure following two hospitalizations in as many months.

John Paul led the Roman Catholic Church for more than a quarter century and was history's most-traveled pope.

He was born Karol Joseph Wojtyla (voy-TEE'-wah) in Wadowice (vah-DOH'-veetz), Poland, on May 18th, 1920. He was known to the world as Pope John Paul the Second, the most traveled pope in history.

John Paul was the son of a foundry worker and a former school teacher, and on October 16th, 1978 he became the first non-Italian to be elected pope in nearly five centuries.

His tenure ended with his death today at age 84.

He declined rapidly after suffering heart and kidney failure following two hospitalizations in as many months. Just two hours before announcing his death, the Vatican had said he was in "very serious" condition, although he was responding to aides.

John Paul survived Nazism, Communism and an assassin's bullet in 1981, and left a mark on the Church that will be felt well into the next century. He appointed most of the Cardinals who will select his successor.

During his tenure as leader of the world's 950 (M) million Roman Catholics he did his utmost to see all of them -- visiting more than 100 countries.

His outdoor Masses before tens of thousands -- sometimes (M) millions of people -- became a hallmark of his foreign travels.

Wherever he went -- as well as in his writings -- John Paul waged a moral crusade against what he saw as the corruption of modern life -- especially abortion.

He reaffirmed the church's ban on artificial birth control and denounced divorce, sex outside marriage and homosexuality.

He demanded celibacy of priests and reaffirmed the church's ban on women priests.

In recent years, health problems had slowed John Paul.

In July 1992, doctors removed a benign tumor from his colon. In November 1993, he dislocated his right shoulder in a fall. And in April 1994, he broke his leg in another fall and had hip replacement surgery.


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