Accessibility links

Pope Pained by Absence from Easter Ceremonies

The Vatican says Pope John Paul II is pained that he is not able to lead the Roman Catholic Church's Easter observances for the first time in the 26 years he has served as pontiff.

The Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, reports the pope's disappointment Saturday. He has been weakened by Parkinson's disease and surgery a month ago to insert a breathing tube in his throat.

A top Vatican cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, took the pope's place Saturday at the Easter Vigil mass at St. Peter's Basilica. At the start of the mass, the cardinal read a message to the faithful in which the pope said he is watching the mass on television at his Vatican apartment.

Traditionally on Easter Sunday the pope delivers his Urbi et Orbi Easter message. However, news reports say this year he may silently bless the crowd from his window and have one of his aides read his message.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AF.