Philippines    CHURCH CALLS POPE'S DEATH REPORT A SICK JOKE
Rumours of the death of Pope John Paul II spread like wildfire on Saturday, throwing the Catholic community into an emotional frenzy, and prompting staff at the residence of Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin to take their phones off the hook.
   "The Pope is very much alive," Sister Rosalinda Macanin, a nun at the Manila Apostolic Nuncio on Vito Cruz Street, told The Manila Times.
   "If it was intended as a joke, it was a very sick joke at the expense of the Pope," added Macanin.
   She said they were swamped with hundreds of calls from people seeking verification of the Pope's demise.
   The news about the Holy Father was apparently launched and circulated via cell phone text messaging. Some of the messages even placed the Pope's time of death at "12:17 a.m. this morning."
   This, according to Macanin, prompted them to call the Vatican to confirm the reports.
   "We started calling the Vatican at 9 a.m., but the Pope was still sleeping at that time," Macanin said. "When we called at 2 p.m., we were told the Pope was having breakfast."
   
Manila Times
3/4/00

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