Pope John Paul tried but failed to speak today (Sunday) as he appeared at the open window of his Vatican quarters for the annual Easter blessing.
A visibly frustrated John Paul struggled to pronounce a few words in a raspy, hoarse voice to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. After a few moments, he abandoned the effort and made the sign of the cross to bless the crowd.
A senior aide (Cardinal Angelo Sodano) celebrated the Easter Mass and read the pope's traditional blessing, Urbi et Orbi, (from the Latin phrase) meaning "to the city and to the world."
For the first time in his 26-year papacy as head of the world's more than one billion Roman Catholics, the 84-year-old pontiff was not able to read the Easter blessing aloud.
John Paul is still recovering from last month's urgent medical treatment to aid his breathing. He has not spoken in public since mid-March, but is undergoing speech and breathing therapy.