The Vatican says Pope John Paul is pained that he is not able to lead the Roman Catholic Church's Easter observances for the first time in the 26 years he has served as pontiff.

The Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, reports the pope's disappointment today (Saturday). He has been weakened by Parkinson's disease and surgery a month ago to insert a breathing tube in his throat.

The top Vatican cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, is taking the place of the pope Saturday at the Easter Vigil mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

Traditionally on Easter Sunday the Pope delivers his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) Easter message. However, news reports say this year he may silently bless the crowd from his window and have one of his aides read his message.