Kaczynski Family: Don’t delay funeral (With Pictures Of Poland)

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WARSAW, POLAND – APRIL 15: The coffins of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria lie in state at the Presidential Palace on April 15, 2010 in Warsaw, Poland.

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WARSAW, Poland — The family of late President Lech Kaczynski has urged that his state funeral be held Sunday in Krakow as planned, despite fears that a volcanic ash cloud emanating from Iceland may keep some world leaders from attending.

It was the family’s first statement since the president and his wife, Maria Kaczynska, died in a plane crash last Saturday in western Russia along with 94 others among Poland’s political and military elite.

“It is the will of the family that, under no circumstance, the date of the funeral be changed,” Presidential Palace spokesman Jacek Sasin said on the family’s behalf.

Airports in Poland were shut down Friday, however, as a cloud of volcanic ash drifting from Iceland forced huge patches of European airspace to be closed. It was unclear whether Poland’s airports would reopen in time to receive world leaders arriving early Sunday to attend the state funeral.

“There are situations we don’t have any influence on,” Polish government spokesman Pawel Gras told Polish broadcaster TVN24. “The delegations will make their own decisions whether to cancel their presence in Krakow or to make use of other means of transportation.”

A national memorial service will be held today in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, followed by a Mass at St. John’s Cathedral for the first couple.

Word of one cancellation for today’s ceremony came late Friday. The Polish news agency PAP reported that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, could no longer fly from Rome to deliver a memorial Mass there.

Sunday’s state funeral in mostly Roman Catholic Poland will begin with a Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica. The bodies of the first couple will then be carried in a funeral procession across the Old Town and to the historic Wawel Cathedral, where they will be interred.

Among world leaders planning to attend Sunday are President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Polish miners hold a flag before the start of a commemoration ceremony for late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and other plane crash victims at the Pilsudski square in Warsaw April 17, 2010.

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Nuns wait for the beginning of a national memorial service in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, Poland,Saturday,April 17, 2010 Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in Russia last Saturday.

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A man holds a picture of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski prior to a national memorial service in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, April,17, 2010 Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in Russia last Saturday.

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Polish army honour guard are seen near a stage for the commemoration ceremony for late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and other plane crash victims at the Pilsudski square in Warsaw April 17, 2010. The Polish president funeral looks set to go ahead as planned on Sunday, at his family’s insistence, despite a cloud of volcanic ash that has shut Europe’s airports and may prevent world leaders attending.

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Priests attend a nation-wide moment of silence to pay their respects for the plane crash victims before a national memorial service in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, April 17, 2010. Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in Russia last Saturday.

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People wait for the start of a commemoration service for late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the other plane crash victims at the Pilsudski square in Warsaw, April 17, 2010 The Polish president’s funeral looked set on Friday to go ahead as planned this weekend at his family’s insistence despite a cloud of volcanic ash that has shut Europe’s airports and may prevent world leaders attending.

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A placard with pictures of the victims of the plane crash in Smolensk is placed near a stage for the commemoration ceremony at Pilsudski square in Warsaw April 17, 2010. The Polish president Lech Kaczynski’s funeral looks set to go ahead as planned on Sunday, at his family’s insistence, despite a cloud of volcanic ash that has shut Europe’s airports and may prevent world leaders attending.