Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass for the Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity in St. Peter's Basilica at 10 pm this year instead of midnight.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the decision -- made two weeks ago -- was so that the Pope "would become less tired out and could retire earlier in anticipation of reading the "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world) message the following day."
Mass "will end at midnight," Father Lombardi said, according to a report in today's "Il Giornale" newspaper.
Father Lombardi stressed that "there are no concerns of any kind regarding the health of the Pontiff."
Over the past few days, some commentators have speculated that the Mass time may have been changed because of the Pope's poor health. One news agency noted that the time of the papal midnight Mass had never been changed -- even during the last years of John Paul II's pontificate when he had become very frail.
What do you think of Pope Benedict's decision to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Nativity at 10 pm instead of midnight for the first time in history? Does this change of time diminish the spiritual effect of this Mass? Will this set a precedent for future popes? Feel free to comment on this change....