Vatican: Pope Benedict Might Not Attend Dual Canonization

Image: Vatican: Pope Benedict Might Not Attend Dual Canonization

Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 09:06 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The Vatican has warned that there is a chance that the frail Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI may not attend the dual canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said on Wednesday that although the retired pope had been invited to the Mass, "we'll have to wait and see" if he has the strength to attend the event, the Catholic News Service reported.

The 87-year-old pontiff retired last year because he felt that he was too weak to carry out his duties, and Pope Francis was chosen to replace him.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

But Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, head of the Vatican-related pilgrim agency Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, felt more positive about the chances of the retired pope being at the festivities.

"Never before have there been two popes canonized and two popes living," he said while discussing plans for the millions of pilgrims pouring intro Rome this weekend to induct John XXIII and John Paul II into sainthood. "You can imagine their emotions."

Andreatta said that several priests would be stationed in the crowds at St. Peter’s Square and along Via della Conciliazione leading into the square to give communion to the throng of people situated a long way from the altar.

"We want to make this event livable," he said. "We also had to meet expenses, which we have done thanks to sponsorship."

The $11 million event, sponsored by the Italian government and about 40 companies including the multinational ENI energy agency, is expected to draw as many as 7 million people.

The organizers said that 58 chartered planes from various parts of the world will descend on Rome, but they have been unable to calculate the exact number of people attending.

Hundreds of busloads of Catholic pilgrims will also be arriving, and there will be road signs in English, Polish, French and Italian to help them around town, the Catholic News Service said.

"Many more are expected," said Maurizio Pucci, director of special events planning for the city of Rome. "Our concerns have included arranging parking spaces for this unknown number of buses."

Andreatta said that 17 enormous video screens will be placed around Rome, plus another at the city’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport and one in front of a cathedral in Milan, Italy.

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said that his city is fully-prepared for the huge influx of pilgrims, according to NPR.

"We are prepared to distribute almost 4 million plastic bottles of water," he said. "We have a massive plan to host almost 2,000 buses coming from all over Europe, and we will have shuttles moving back and forward in order not to have huge buses circulating downtown in Rome."

The city is making sure that the event goes off by having 2,500 police officers on duty at any one time and 2,500 volunteers helping with crowd control.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

"The pope [Francis] told me, 'You will dance on April 27,' using an expression that in Italy means you will have troubles on that day," Marino said. "I hope that I will have to dance just a little.

"We are talking about an event I would classify as a global event. We will probably have 2 billion all over the planet who will watch Rome on that day through TV, radio and Internet."

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