John Paul II to Keep a Busy Christmas-Season Schedule

Will Preside Over the Key Celebrations

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II plans to preside over the long and demanding liturgical celebrations this Christmas as he has done throughout his 24-year pontificate.



The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced that the Pope will preside over midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The ceremony will be televised worldwide.

On Christmas Day, the Holy Father will appear on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to impart the blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).

On Dec. 31 he will celebrate the liturgy of vespers in St. Peter's, which will conclude with the "Te Deum" hymn of thanksgiving for the year ending.

At 10 a.m. on Jan. 1, the Pope will preside over a Mass to celebrate the World Day of Peace. The motto for the occasion, he has decided, will be "'Pacem in Terris': A Constant Effort."

Within days the Vatican is expected to publish the papal message for the occasion. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace revealed in July that the message "will be a reminder of the four foundations of peace in light of present circumstances," namely, truth, justice, charity and liberty.

In this way, John Paul II also wishes to mark the 40th anniversary of the publication of Pope John XXIII's encyclical Pacem in Terris," the first in which a Pontiff addressed not only believers but all "men of good will."

On Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Pope will ordain new bishops of various continents.

He will close the Christmas liturgical period on Jan. 12, baptizing children from various countries in the Sistine Chapel.