VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II isn’t ready to step down just yet, he revealed when he asked for prayers to help him continue his mission.
“I always feel the need of your help before the Lord to fulfill the mission Jesus has entrusted to me,” he said today before praying the Angelus, his first public appearance since leaving the hospital three days ago.
“Dear brothers and sisters, welcome!” he said to tens of thousands of pilgrims eager to see the Pope’s recovery with their own eyes.
Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, read the Pope’s address, but the Pope himself intoned with a somewhat hoarse voice the Latin prayer that precedes the blessing.
The Holy Father thanked all those listening to him in the Vatican or on radio and television “for your closeness, affection and, above all, for your prayers during the days of my hospitalization in the Gemelli.”
He also explained that in the afternoon he would begin Spiritual Exercises, together with his collaborators of the Curia. “In silence and recollection, I will pray to the Lord for all the needs of the Church and of the world. I ask you also, dear brothers and sisters, to support me with your prayer,” he added.
During this week the Pope traditionally suspends his audiences to dedicate himself to silence and prayer. The meditations will be directed by Bishop Renato Corti of Novara on the theme “The Church at the Service of the New and Eternal Covenant.”
After praying the Angelus, Archbishop Sandri greeted the pilgrims on behalf of the Pope in French, English, Spanish and Italian. The greeting in Polish was entrusted to Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Pope’s personal secretary.
The square erupted with applause when the Pope spoke again in a clearer voice at the end to bid “all a happy Sunday.” “Thank you!” he said.
Although still recovering, the Pope stood at his window without a glass protection that many predicted he would use.