Will There Be a Next Time? Pope Says It's in God's Hands

From a Crowd of 2 Million Come Pleas of «Stay with Us»

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KRAKOW, Poland, AUG. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II told more than 2 million faithful gathered at a beatification Mass that it is up to divine providence whether they meet again.

«Goodbye. I would like to say that I will see you soon, but this is totally in God’s hands,» the 82-year-old Pope said following the beatification of four Poles in Blonie Park, under a burning sun.

«We wait for you,» an enthusiastic crowd responded in unison.

«I entrust it totally to Divine Mercy,» the Pope responded, visibly moved by the fervor of his countrymen.

Some young people cried out, «We wait for you in Wadowice,» his birthplace near Krakow. And the crowd pleaded: «Stay with us! Stay with us!»

«You want to convince me to desert Rome,» the Pope joked — a rejoinder to rumors that he would resign and remain in his homeland until his death.

When young people began to sing «The Boat,» the hymn of the «Oasis» movement of Polish Catholic youth, the Pope put his hand on his forehead, again visibly moved.

The hymn says: «I leave my boat on the shore, as I am going with you, my God.»

«I heard this song when I left Poland 23 years ago. It resounded in my ears when I heard the conclave’s verdict,» the Pope said. He was elected the Successor of Peter on Oct. 16, 1978.

«I have heard it during all these years. It has always reminded me of my homeland and has guided me on the different ways of the Church,» John Paul II added.

Flags of numerous countries were waving in Blonie Park. There were pilgrims from Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Italy, France, Germany and Norway. Other banners displayed red hearts and messages, such as «We love you.»

Following the Mass, the Holy Father lunched with some 120 bishops of the country and other guest prelates. He then made a private visit to Wawel Cathedral, symbol of the Archdiocese of Krakow, of which he was once pastor.

Shortly afterward, John Paul II went past St. Florian’s church, where he was once a young assistant parish priest, and eventually arrived at the cemetery of Rakowice, where he prayed for some time before his family’s tomb.

The Pontiff will end his 98th international trip on Monday, after celebrating a Mass in commemoration of the fourth centenary of the dedication of the Shrine of the Passion of Jesus and of the Virgin of Sorrows in the Basilica of Kalwaria Zedrzydowska.

The basilica is a pilgrimage center where he went as a child, and where he made some difficult decisions while he was Archbishop of Krakow, as he himself revealed Friday, when he arrived in Poland.

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