Cardinal Sodano to represent Pope at funeral of Polish president
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.

.- Concelebrating with the bishops of Poland, Cardinal Angelo Sodano will preside over a public funeral Mass for the victims of the plane crash that claimed nearly one hundred lives last Saturday. Before the funeral Mass this coming Sunday, the cardinal will lead a second Mass before the burial of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria.
Warsaw's historically significant Pilsudski Square will be the site of a public funeral celebration for the many who died when their plane went down near the airport of Smolensk, Russia last week. According to Vatican Radio, members of the Polish Episcopal Conference will celebrate the Mass along with Pope Benedict's delegate, Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

After Sunday's Mass, the mortal remains of President Kaczynski and his wife will be brought to St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow, where a second Mass will take place, also under the cardinal's direction. President of the Polish parliament and interim Head of State, Bronsilaw Komorowski, and Solidarnosc (Solidarity) movement president Janusz Sniadek will make addresses during the celebration

Afterwards, Cardinal Archbishop Stanlaw Dziwisz of Krakow will oversee a liturgical ceremony at Wawel Castle, where the couple are expected to be buried alongside the kings of Poland and other important historical figures.

A memorial Mass for the President, his wife and all the victims of last Saturday's plane crash was held Thursday evening in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Cardinal Sodano presided over the celebration, at which many diplomats and foreign diplomats to the Holy See were present.

Vatican Radio reported that the cardinal called for deep faith to sustain Polish Christians at this time and entrusted the dead to the merciful hands of God.

A potential hazard to the ceremonies over the weekend could be the volcanic eruption in Iceland which, due to the large volume of ash emitted into the atmosphere, has closed down airports across Europe, including in Poland. Jacek Sasin, an official from the chancellor's office in Poland, told reporters that the ceremonies would be postponed only in the "case of absolute emergency."

President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev are among the 80 foreign delegations expected for the funeral in Krakow on Sunday.

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