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Pope Greets Faithful via Video, on Good Friday

Pope John Paul did not disappoint the faithful on Good Friday. Unable to leave the Vatican due to ill health, he appeared on video to the thousands taking part in the Way of Cross procession at Rome's ancient Coliseum.

It has been a very unusual Holy Week for Catholics in Rome. The pope has not been able to preside over the ceremonies leading up to Easter due to his health.

Senior cardinals stood in for him for the first time in his 26 year papacy.

Thousands turned out for a torch-lit Way of the Cross procession at the Coliseum. The pope could not be there in person because he is recovering from throat surgery and is still too weak. But the faithful were able to see the pope on large video screens at the Coliseum.

He could not miss the moment in which Christians commemorate the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus. The pope joined them from his private chapel at the Vatican.

The cardinal vicar of Rome read a message from the pope at the start of the procession. In the message the pope said he was spiritually with the faithful at the Coliseum. He also said he was close to all those who in these moments are tested by suffering.

Pope John Paul normally presides at three events on Good Friday. He was not present for either of the other two. In the afternoon a solemn Passion of the Lord service was held in Saint Peter's Basilica.

The service was presided over by U.S. Cardinal Francis Stafford who asked for prayers for the pope, so that God may give him health and strength to guide.

The pope was also absent from Saint Peter's Basilica in the morning. Since his first Easter in 1979, the pope has traditionally heard confessions of ordinary pilgrims on Good Friday morning.

But after seeing him on the video screens at the Coliseum on Good Friday, the faithful were reassured. They know the pope will be with them again on Easter Sunday.

The Vatican has confirmed that he will be giving his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing.