IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Countdown with 'Countdown'

Simultaneous 'Countdown' of the top news stories exclusively  at

Pope on public display — The at 4 a.m. ET, this Friday morning in the grotto of the St. Peter's Basilica.  The Vatican indicating that left no instructions that he be interred in his native Poland — though there is still a grim, albeit understandable hope, that the heart of the man the Poles consider a national savior, will be buried there and not in Rome…Today marked the second full day out of the nine official days of mourning.  The Pope is now lying in state.  The public viewing began at about 5 p.m. local time.  And while more than half the Cardinals who will select his successor were already at the Vatican for procedural meetings in advance of the conclave.  The rest of the world — certainly the public in Rome — remains focused on the late Pope, and the pageantry attending his passing.

Holy order — What would you feel like if just by saying four words out loud — you'd saved a man's life?  In the last four days we have seen much of Pope John Paul's visits to New York, to Los Angeles, to the White House, but not so much of his last trip during which he said those four words.... in St. Louis, Missouri.  It was 1999.  As part of the preparations for the pontiff's visit, the execution of convicted killer Darrell Mease was postponed — out of respect of the Pope's stance against capital punishment.  That was supposed to be all it was.  Then, after the Pope gave a recitation on "God's gift of life and love..."  He went to Governor Mel Carnahan and said the four words.  Though slurred by his Parkinson's though they might have been, they were unmistakable: "Mercy for Mr. Mease."  The late Governor was so moved by the power of that moment, commuted the death sentence — against the advice of his staff.

Cursed royal wedding — Certainly someone close to Camilla Parker Bowles or Prince Charles had already said it: "How many more omens do you need?”  The where, and the under what circumstances, had already been changed.  The title she doesn't want -- turns out she's stuck with it.  His mother won't attend.  And now this.  471 years after King Henry VIII split with the Roman Catholic Church and started his own religion and was promptly ex-communicated by Pope Clement VII, Clement's 45th successor dies, and his burial is scheduled for the same day as the Charles and Camilla wedding.  Out of respect, .

Pope's resilience — Lastly tonight, of the 264 or 265 of them — he was the third longest serving .  Thus, this fact is hard to reconcile.  The arduous 26 years and four months of his Pontificate, might not have been the most challenging of Karol Wojtyla's life, certainly not the most physically challenging.  He survived an assassination, tumors, fractures and Parkinson's, and all the blights of old age.