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A Livelier Pope Leads Ceremony

The pontiff, whose health has been in decline, elevates three to sainthood in a lengthy Vatican rite.

October 06, 2003|From Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Days after some cardinals gave dire descriptions of his health, Pope John Paul II led a long and lively ceremony Sunday to give the Roman Catholic Church three new saints, capping the appearance with a spin around St. Peter's Square to wave to tens of thousands of cheering well-wishers.

The 83-year-old pontiff, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, held up rather well throughout his 2 1/2 hours in public, although near the end of the canonization Mass he began to noticeably slur his words and let Cardinal Walter Kasper read three paragraphs in German.

John Paul declared three missionaries to be saints: Daniele Comboni, an Italian; Arnold Janssen, a German; and Josef Freinademetz, an Austrian.

The pope chanted several prayers in a loud, clear voice, greeted a long line of VIPs one by one and watched with attention as African and Asian dancers performed in honor of the three saints.

After the ceremony, John Paul was helped into the open-topped "popemobile" for a 10-minute ride around the cobblestone square.

Earlier in the week, some unusually frank assessments by churchmen, including several cardinals, heightened alarm over John Paul's deteriorating condition. One cardinal, Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, even said the pope was dying.

But Sunday, a haler John Paul said the ceremony highlighted the need "in these times" for the "enthusiasm and apostolic passion" shown by the new saints.

The pope also spoke with anticipation of a pilgrimage he will make Tuesday to the southern Italian city of Pompeii.

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