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Ailing Pope prepares for anniversary

Vatican City, Oct. 15 (Reuters): Priests and presidents, pilgrims and politicians arrived in Rome from around the world today to fete an ailing Pope John Paul as he prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of his historic pontificate.

The 83-year-old pope, who suffers from Parkinsonís disease and can no longer walk, appeared markedly better at his general audience in St Peterís Square, one day before the anniversary. He spoke in a voice that was much clearer than it has been recently and clearly recognised cardinals who greeted him at the end of the audience for thousands of people.

ďI would like to express my gratitude for the good wishes and prayers that people have made for the 25th anniversary of my pontificate,Ē he said in Italian. He invited everyone to join him in St Peterís Square tomorrow evening for a mass.

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