Tired But Determined, Pope Plans More Travel

Trip to Mongolia Is Still a Possibility

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ZADAR, Croatia, JUNE 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II ended his third trip to Croatia, wearied by the numerous airplane and car trips and the hot weather, but still determined to travel abroad.

The Pope’s exhaustion «did not modify at all the program of the trip, despite the fact that the heat was greater than anticipated,» said Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls, in statements published today by the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

That the Pope was taken to the altar in a wheelchair on these trips does not lessen his capacity to communicate, the Vatican spokesman said.

«People have realized with what extraordinary human elegance the Pope has accepted his physical limitations. Today, more than an obstacle, they are an instrument of his mission,» Navarro-Valls said.

The Holy Father will continue to travel, Navarro-Valls affirmed. On June 22, he will visit Banja Luka, a city in Republika Srpska, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In September he is expected to travel to Slovenia.

The trip to Mongolia is still uncertain for several reasons: the danger of SARS (several cases have been reported in the country), the complexity of preparations, and the difficulty of organizing a possible stopover in the Russian city of Kazan.

«The plan for the trip to Mongolia is developing,» the Vatican spokesman told journalists. «It’s still not ready, but it has not been canceled.»

Il Corriere della Sera revealed that there is talk of a papal visit next year to France, where John Paul II might beatify Charles de Foucauld and the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

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