| Monday, December 27, 2004
| POPE PRAYS FOR PEACE THIS CHRISTMAS
|Crowds converge on square for mass
Pope John Paul II ushered in Christmas on Friday by
celebrating midnight mass at St. Peter's Basilica
praying for peace and that Jews, Muslims and Christians
will live harmoniously in the Holy Land.
All through the day, pilgraims descended on St. Peter's Square
to admire a 105 foot tall Christmas tree brought down from the
Italian alps and a life size Nativity scene unveiled Friday
alongside the 100 year old fir.
Many people waited in line for hours to get into the mass
while Italian police screened pilgrims with metal detectors
before letting them into St. Peters's Basicilica. Police cars
ringed the piazza, and officers patrolled the already heavily
protected sqaure in a fleet of new miini Lamborghinis resembling
a mini golf carts.
A choir sang a Christmas concert in the square after dusk. In the
darkness, a single candle representing peace appeared in the pope's
window. The pontiff raised the candle to make the sign of the cross,
and the crowd burst into applause.
At mass later, the 84 year old pope was guided to the front of the
church in his white wheeled throne. Wearing a pale golden reobe, he
appeared in form and spoke in a clear voice in the opening greeting.
The pope made no specific references to current issues in his homily,
but said of Christ: "all humanity, with its burdens of trials and
troubles, stands in need of you."
The holidays are always a trying period for the ailing pontiff,
who on christmas day planned to read his homily message and issue
greetings in dozens of languages. In a speech during the week, the
pope acknowledged the burdens of illness and age. He has Parkinson's
disease and crippling leg ailments.
"The passing years made one feel an ever more intense need for help
from God, and from people." he said before handing his speech over
to an aide, who read most of the remarks.
Yet the pope has kept to his regular holiday appointments. He is
also planning to leas a New Year's Eve prayer service and a mass for
the church's World Day of Peace on Jan. 1.
The Vatican said the midnight mass and the Christmas Day message
were to be tlevised in 73 countries.
((Associated Press by Victor l. Simpson)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 5:04 AM