March 28, 2005
Pope John Paul II did not give his traditional Easter blessing this year. The leader of the Catholic Church played a very limited role during holy week, due to his recent and continuing illnesses. CBS19 and ABC16 spoke to locals about these developments.
Thousands of people waited in St. Peter's Square, hoping to hear The Pope speak on Easter on Sunday, March 27th. Instead they saw the pontiff only blessed the crowd. He tried to address the people, but only sounds not words came from his mouth.
"He's been around for a long time and he is sick," said Ernie Sardi who is an Usher at the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Charlottesville. "I can understand why he hasn't been around, but I just feel bad for him."
"It does affect me as a Catholic. It's sad to see that The Pope can't be performing his duties and I think it affects the church as a whole," said Mandy Kowalski, choir member at the Church of the Incarnation.
Catholics around the world continued, however, to celebrate the end of lent--which is a season of resisting temptations and self-denial, much like many symbols in the faith.
"The Lord has given him the experience of great personal suffering and certainly as we remember Jesus suffering during holy week," said Father Gregory Kandt of the Church of the Incarnation. "To see our leader suffering too in union with him is an inspiration."
Despite their leader's health problems, local churches continued services as planned.
"In our day-to-day functioning and our celebration of Easter, things are the same as they always are: Christ has risen Hallelujah," said Father Kandt.
That was the same message sent to worshipers at The Vatican.