Frail Pope blesses Easter crowds

 Although Pope John Paul II was unable to celebrate Mass, he appeared at the window of his apartment to bless crowds gathered in St Peter's Square on Easter Sunday. Staying for about ten minutes with a microphone by his side, after struggling to speak, he simply gave a silent blessing. Many people in the wept and applauded. Onlookers said the Pope looked tired and in pain. This was the first time he has been unable to lead the Easter services in Rome. Instead he has watched them by video link from his apartment. The Holy Father followed the words of his Easter "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) message attentively. It was read out for him by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, who also celebrated the main Easter Sundaty Mass at St Peter's in place of the Pope. . He called for peace in the Middle East and Africa, and in a world "drenched in the blood of so many innocent victims of war". He called on believers to show solidarity to those dying from poverty and hunger, and he prayed for Aids victims and those whose lives were swept away in the Indian Ocean tsunami. Throughout Easter the Pope has sent out several messages stressing that - although absent through sickness - he is present in spirit with the faithful. Source: VIS

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