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RELIGION | IN BRIEF

Pope Says He Travels 'to Imitate Apostle Peter'

June 14, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II, who returned this week from his 100th trip outside Italy, said at a special Vatican audience that since the day of his election almost 25 years ago, he has felt an urgent need to travel the world preaching the Gospel like the Apostle Peter.

"Since the day I was elected bishop of Rome -- Oct. 16, 1978 -- the command of Jesus, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation,' has resonated in my inmost self with particular intensity and urgency," the pope said. "Thus, I feel the duty to imitate the Apostle Peter, who 'went here and there among all the believers' to confirm and consolidate the vitality of the church in faith."

Since his first trip to the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Bahamas from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, 1979, little more than three months after his election, the pope has taken an average of four trips outside Italy each year, continuing to travel despite his increasing frailty.

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