updated 4/8/2005 6:59:45 AM ET 2005-04-08T10:59:45

Gazing up at four giant screens, thousands of Filipinos watched the funeral of Pope John Paul II Friday from the seaside park where the largest audience of his 26-year papacy greeted him 10 years ago.

An estimated 4 million people jammed Rizal Park for John Paul’s youth Mass in 1995. He had been scheduled to return two years ago, but the long voyage apparently was considered too taxing for his frail health.

Throughout Asia, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs joined Roman Catholics in church services and prayers to honor the pope, who has been highly praised for reaching out to other faiths.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales called the gathering of the faithful in Asia’s most populous Roman Catholic nation a “celebration of life” for John Paul, who endeared himself to Filipinos with two well-received visits, along with prayers in troubled times.

The pope drew massive emotional crowds in 1981 as well as 1995.

“He said goodbye, but in the hearts of Filipinos, he still lives on,” said Bing Saracarpio, a vendor selling flags and T-shirts with the pope’s image.

Teresita Anudo traveled from Cavite, 40 miles south of Manila, for a front seat near the park’s grandstand. “I need to see him for the last time,” she said, recalling how she waved at him at Manila airport in 1995.

Dignitaries in Tokyo
In Tokyo, hundreds of government officials and dignitaries were among an estimated 1,500 Japanese who packed a memorial Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, spilling outside under a hot sun. Mourners — some veiled in black, others dabbing their faces with towels — watched the service on a giant TV screen atop a truck.

Crown Prince Naruhito, who will one day as emperor become the head priest of Japan’s native Shinto religion, was greeted by a row of white-robed clergymen as he pulled up in a black limousine.

Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, arrived in Japan on Friday urging people to carry on John Paul II’s legacy of peace.

“Firstly, we lost a great human being, a leader of a great religion but also one very good human being,” the Dalai Lama said. “Now it is important that we must carry all his messages and guidance with us. We must make every effort to fulfill his wishes.”

In overwhelmingly Buddhist Sri Lanka, where the pope visited in 1995, the top private TV station ART was to interrupt regular programming to broadcast the funeral live after receiving hundreds of phoned requests. A special Mass was scheduled at St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Colombo.

In Australia, some 14,000 people packed into a cricket ground in Adelaide for a memorial service for the pontiff — who last year criticized Australia for its secular trends and warned that attending Mass on Sunday should not become subordinate to a “secular concept of ‘weekend’ dominated by such things as entertainment and sport.”

South Australia state Premier Mike Rann praised the pope for reaching out to other faiths.

“It was this pope who apologized to Jews for past wrongs, who worshipped in both the synagogue and the mosque,” Rann said. “And it was this pope who stood up to the United States and opposed the war in Iraq.”

Malaysians pay respects
In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, more than 4,000 people, including representatives of the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities, attended a memorial Mass late Thursday at St. John’s Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur.

“The size of the crowd made it look like Christmas or Easter, with people spilling out of the church, sitting outside ... but everyone was very solemn,” said parishioner Celine Jesudass, 50, who attended another service at the Church of the Assumption in Petaling Jaya.

All over Manila, workers pinned posters on lampposts and erected billboards with the pope’s picture and the words “Paalam (goodbye) John Paul II.”

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in Rome for the pope’s burial, declared a national period of mourning. Flags have been at half-staff.

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