Accessibility links

Pope to Give Blessing Sunday, Will Miss Ash Wednesday Service

The Vatican says Pope John Paul II is well enough to deliver his traditional blessing Sunday, but will miss a prayer service Wednesday marking the start of Lent.

The pope will deliver his weekly blessing to the faithful Sunday, but an aide will read the noon prayer for him. American Cardinal James Francis Stafford will fill in for the pope at the traditional Ash Wednesday service.

A group of clergy said the pontiff is getting better after visiting his Rome hospital room Saturday. They represented nearly 100 Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant clergy who gathered in the hospital chapel to pray for the pontiff. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy also sent the pope a message wishing him a quick recovery.

The 84-year-old pontiff, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, is reportedly breathing easier as he recovers from the flu.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.