Cardinal George arrives in Rome for beatification

April 30, 2011 (ROME)

A large crowd is expected to gather at the Circus Maximus for a prayer service.

The stage is set, big screen TVs are up and running, and Rome has guides at the ready, all hoping the weather holds for the vigil Sunday night that will commemorate the late pope's life.

It's already been a full night and day for Chicago's Cardinal Francis George. ABC7's Alan Krashesky greeted him when he arrived in Rome Saturday morning from Chicago. Later, the Archbishop of Chicago talked about how he views the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the man who years ago made him a bishop and then the archbishop, and eventually cardinal from Chicago.

"He showed us how you can truly be yourself and from a particular country, and yet be universal. He did that," Cardinal George said.

While the cardinal is thousands of miles away from home, the concerns of a church leader always travel with him, such as his recent suspension of Fr. Michael Pfleger from St. Sabina's Catholic Church.

When asked how much time he'd give Pfleger until the issue is resolved, the cardinal responded: "It depends on how he wants to use as time, I mean I asked him to reflect a bit, so some time is necessary, but it's up to him. Well be in conversation at some point I hope."

While the cardinal deals with that issue, another Chicagoan here Rome is weighing his future in the priesthood. Michael Pawlowicz is a seminary student from suburban Lisle now studying in Rome. He's excited about being here for history being made.

"We believe the church to be, in a sense, a mouthpiece of God. When the church proclaims John Paul II blessed, that's the voice of God saying, 'This man is with me,'" Pawlowicz said.

Sunday morning is the big event: the beatification mass itself. There are no tickets - it's free to attend. That means those who want the best seats must be first in line, and they're going to have to get up mighty early for those cherished spots. The gates to St. Peter's Square open at 5:30 a.m.

Look for more reports from ABC7's Alan Krashesky throughout the weekend, including an update on the 10 p.m. Saturday broadcast.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and read his blogs at

Watch the beatification of Pope John Paull II live at 3 a.m. Sunday on

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