Applause for John Paul II on 23rd Anniversary of Pontificate

He Awaits Next World Youth Day, and Maybe Other Trips in 2002

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2001 ( Loud applause on the 23rd anniversary of his election as Pope greeted John Paul II at the Synod of Bishops today.

Despite the milestone day, the Holy Father kept to his usual tight schedule. Nonetheless, he seemed deeply moved by the bishops´ recognition.

Cardinal Bernard Agre of the Ivory Coast, acting president of the synod, congratulated the Pope on behalf of the assembly. In Latin, he expressed the wish that John Paul II would continue “ad multos annos,” for many more years.

At 81, despite the past attempt on his life and a number of operations — extraction of a tumor in 1992, fractured femur in 1994, and appendicitis in 1996 — John Paul II continues to make plans.

He is looking forward to World Youth Day in Toronto next July, and reporters in the Vatican expect additional trips in 2002. In May, the Pope might go to Bulgaria. He might also visit some former Soviet republics (Orthodox and Muslim) and return to Poland.

John Paul II does not like to refer to records, but over these 23 years he has achieved unprecedented feats. He has visited 128 countries, traveling more than three times the distance between the earth and moon.

His major documents — including encyclicals, exhortations, constitutions and apostolic letters — number more than 100. He oversaw the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

John Paul II has convoked eight consistories and 15 synods, and proclaimed 452 saints and 1,172 blessed. He has presided over 1,000 general audiences, attended by more than 16 million faithful.

In Italy, the Pope has made 138 pastoral visits, to over 720 parishes and institutions.

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