4,000 mourn the pontiff at Westminster Cathedral

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The Independent Online

About 4,000 mourners attended Westminster Cathedral to hear Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor pay tribute to the Pope. At a special requiem Mass yesterday, the archbishop described Pope John Paul II as a "great man, a great Christian and a great pope".

The cathedral was packed, with the front rows occupied by VIPs such as John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, and Cherie Blair, who are both committed Catholics. About 2,000 mourners stood outside where the service was relayed on loud speakers.

The archbishop said: "With the aid of modern communications and charisma he had turned the papacy into a mission, a service and ministry not just for Roman Catholics, not just for fellow Christians but in a kind of sense for the world in a way that I do not think any other pope has achieved."

Mourners paid tribute to the Pope at services across Britain.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the Pope was "one of the great Christian leaders of the 20th century, and perhaps in retrospect one of the very greatest."

Tony Blair said the world had lost a religious leader "who was revered across people of all faiths and none". He said: "He never wavered, never flinched, in the struggle for what he thought was good and right."

The Queen said that the Pope would be remembered best as a peacemaker.