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Pope to watch Good Friday service by video link

 Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for the Diocese of Rome, is taking the Pope's place today during the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. The Holy Father is expected to watch the service by video link. Cardinal Ruini will carry the cross during the first two stations, as well as the last, the 14th, the Vatican press office announced today. John Paul II is convalescing at the Vatican from his Feb. 24 throat operation. Thousands of pilgrims are expected Friday to gather with lit candles at the Roman landmark, to commemorate Jesus' last steps. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, has prepared the texts for the meditations. "In the Way of the Cross we see a God who shares in human sufferings; a God whose love does not remain aloof and distant, but comes into our midst, even enduring death on a cross," says the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the presentation of the meditations. According to the Vatican press office, in addition to Cardinal Ruini, the cross will be carried by two Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land; a nun of the Diocese of Dibrugarh, India; a lay woman of the Diocese of Chonju, South Korea; a Roman family; a lay woman of the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka; an immigrant Albanian family living in Italy; and a young man of the Archdiocese of Khartoum, Sudan. The Pope watched Holy Thursday services on television from his apartment. "With mind and heart I am close to you," he said in a message read out by a cardinal at an early evening service at St Peter's Basilica. "Spiritually present, I pray with you, while with affection I bless all of you." He gave up carrying the cross several years ago but until last year presided over the evening service which follows the procession. He will deliver his Urbi et Orbi blessing after his secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, conducts the main Mass on Easter Sunday tomorrow. Source: VIS