Vatican modifies procession due to pope's frail condition

Tuesday, April 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ The Vatican has modified the traditional Good Friday procession at the Colosseum because of Pope John Paul II's frail condition, with the pope to follow most of the rite while kneeling.

``He will be more comfortable,'' papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said Tuesday.

The pope used to carry a wooden cross for the entire half-mile procession commemorating Christ's suffering on the way to crucifixion.

But he has been cutting back his participation since undergoing hip-replacement surgery in 1994. John Paul turns 81 on May 18, and he also suffers from symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The Vatican said John Paul will follow most of the procession while kneeling and pick up the cross only at the end.

Otherwise, the pope intends to keep up a grueling Holy Week schedule that began with an open-air Mass on Palm Sunday. He will preside over a Holy Thursday service, a vigil service on Saturday night and an Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday.