No plans to curtail papal travel
While showing signs of physical fatigue, Pope John Paul II has no plans to curtail his travel schedule, his spokesman has revealed.
Vatican press office head Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters in Malta that the Holy Father is pleased with the results of his visits to Greece and Syria. He observed that the Pope is already scheduled to visit Ukraine next month, and a September trip to Armenia is now likely.
"The Pope has no intention of stopping his trips," Navarro-Valls said. "He will not stop his travels until God calls him home."
The Pope arrived in Malta on Tuesday afternoon, beginning the last stop of his latest voyage. He was greeted by Malta's President Guido De Marco and Archbishop Joseph Mercieca. In his own remarks at the welcoming ceremony, the Pope reminded his audience that he was continuing his pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul, who was shipwrecked on the island.
Unlike the Pope's previous stops in Greece and Syria, Malta has an unbroken history of Catholic cultural dominance. The island nation boasts a population of about 380,000, of whom 98% are baptised Catholics. About 65% of the population attends Mass each Sunday.