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Pope's frailty forces change in his Good Friday plans

John Paul II will not walk the full length of the Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum this Good Friday, as planned.

The Pope used to carry a wooden cross for the entire one-kilometre procession. But he will follow most of the procession while kneeling and pick up the cross at the end.

"He will be more comfortable," said papal spokesman Joaquin-Navarro-Valls.

The principal ceremonies of Holy Week will begin today, Holy Thursday, with the Holy Father's celebration of the Chrism Mass in the morning in St Peter's Basilica. This afternoon, he will celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and the washing of the feet of 12 priests, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

Tomorrow - Good Friday - he will preside over the celebration of the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's, before leading the traditional Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum in the evening.

He will preside over the Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday. On Sunday, he will celebrate Mass in St Peter's Square, giving his Easter message to the world and greeting nations in over 60 languages.

The Holy Father has invited His Beatitude Vladimir, metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, to join him in the celebrations. The invitation was given to the metropolitan last Saturday in Kiev by Cardinal Roberto Tucci.