Pope John Paul II - Photo by Ing Mgr Jozef Kotulič

Roman Catholics in New York City will observe what they call a veneration of a vial of blood drawn from the late Pope John Paul II this weekend, as others are expressing concern about the idolatry of such practices.

The relic tour was recently announced by the Knights of Columbus, which regularly hosts the vial at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

“There was no greater champion of human rights in our lifetime than St. John Paul, who reminded us that those rights begin with religious liberty and the rights of conscience,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “He did this most memorably in the first year of his papacy when he returned to Poland and brought there the hope of freedom, and again when he spoke so clearly on behalf of religious freedom at the U.N. in New York.”

This Saturday and Sunday, the relic will appear at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, where Catholics will be invited to visit the vial following mass both days.

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