John Paul II Poised to Lead Midnight Mass

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2003 ( John Paul II was scheduled to preside over Christmas Mass at midnight in St. Peter’s Basilica, and to impart his traditional blessing to the city of Rome and the world at midday on Thursday.

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Some 80 television stations in 50 countries will broadcast the events. The events can also be followed at a special Christmas section in the Vatican Web site at

The Holy See confirmed that the Pope will preside over the major celebrations during the holiday season, including the “Te Deum” act of thanksgiving on Dec. 31 and the Mass on Jan. 1, solemnity of Mary the Mother of God and World Day of Peace.

Unlike previous years, the Holy Father will not ordain any bishops on Jan. 6, feast of the Epiphany.

Security has been stepped up at the Vatican after warnings in recent week of possible terrorist attacks against Christian sites.

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