Light agenda for Christmas
THE POPE will preside over the principal Christmas liturgical celebrations in St. Peter's Basilica this year, although the agenda will be lighter than in previous years.
The Pope will preside at the Midnight Mass on December 24 and will deliver his Christmas message to the world at midday December 25 from the central balcony of the basilica's facade, the Vatican press office said.
Television channels worldwide will transmit the event, which ends with the blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).
On December 31 at 6pm the Pontiff will preside over vespers. On Jan. 1, World Day of Peace, John Paul II will preside at the Mass in the basilica to celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
The papal Christmas agenda does not include the ordination of bishops in the Vatican basilica on January 6 as in previous years.
Vatican sources said that the reduced agenda is to avoid long public events that would further tax the Holy Father's frail health.