With the situation in his native Poland slowly reaching crisis point, Pope John Paul on Wednesday (20 August) made a moving appeal for prayers for his homeland.
SV EXT Banner reading "Krakow Nauczyciele" held by members of Polish community in Rome singing
SCU & GV Pope John Paul II speaking in Polish
GV Pope in Jeep waving at crowd and shaking hands
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Background: With the situation in his native Poland slowly reaching crisis point, Pope John Paul on Wednesday (20 August) made a moving appeal for prayers for his homeland. He was speaking at a general audience of pilgrims which included hundreds of Poles.
SYNOPSIS: Some 900 Polish residents of Rome came to the weekly general audience at the Vatican - their presence well advertised by a large banner carrying a slogan from the city where Pope John Paul was the archbishop before his election as Pontiff. Seeing his fellow-countrymen clearly moved the Pope spoke to them in their native tongue.
He told his Polish audience that he wanted to read them two prayers regarding the news reaching him from Poland. However, he made no direct comment on the development of the strikes which threaten to make Poland a world crisis point. Instead, he said he wanted to read them two prayers. The prayers, which are traditionally recited in Poland during Masses, ask God to help the Polish people and to protect the country's independence. The Pope said he hoped the prayers might show how everyone in Rome was united with their countrymen in Poland and the church in Poland and all its problems.
When he had concluded the prayers, the Pope was driven through the crowd, waving and shaking hands with many of the pilgrims. Throughout the audience, he had been almost to tears when referring to his homeland and although he made no direct comment on the momentous events unfolding in the baltic cities of Poland, he made no effort to disguise where his feelings lay.