Pope John Paul Offers Silent Easter Blessings

Pope John Paul II greets the faithful on Easter Sunday.

Pope John Paul II greets the faithful on Easter Sunday from his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square. Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters

Tens of thousands of Christians gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome for Easter Mass saw Pope John Paul II bless them with the sign of the cross, but the ailing pontiff did not celebrate mass or verbally address the crowd.

The 84-year-old pope had not failed to celebrate the Easter Mass since his papacy began in 1978. Earlier, John Paul had chosen Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, to lead the holiday mass.

NPR's Debbie Elliott speaks with John Allen of The National Catholic Reporter about the day in Rome and the twilight of John Paul's career.

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