Pope gives Mass in Baku

Pope John Paul II has given a Holy Mass in Baku. The liturgy held in a sports centre was attended by more than 5,000 people - Catholics from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, foreigners working and studying in Baku.

The Pontiff began his sermon with the words "Let God Himself save Azerbaijan!" uttered in Azerbaijani and continued it in Russian. Unfortunately, John Paul II failed to complete the sermon, which was done by another priest.

The Pope called on young people not to yield to the mirage of "idleness, easy and dishonest enrichment." He is sure that today's youth is capable of "high aspirations and self-sacrifice for the sake of the triumph of justice, freedom, and peace." John Paul II thanked Azeri President Geidar Aliev for the plot allotted for construction of a Catholic church in the city which he will consecrate today.

After the Mass, an Azerbaijani man hopped on his crutches to the Pope asking him for blessing. He kneeled and kissed the Pontiff's hand and received the blessing.

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