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Pope feted at 1000th audience at Vatican

Pope John Paul walked out into a sun-baked St. Peter's Square on Wednesday for his 1,000th general audience and was feted by crowds of cheering young faithful.

"Today, St. Peter's Square is Youth Square," said the Pope, who has addressed about 16 million people in general audiences over his 23-year papacy.

More than 20,000 young Catholics flocked to St. Peter's to welcome the 81-year-old Pope who has seen building up the Catholic youth as one of his main missions.

He urged the young people to be witnesses of hope in a troubled world.

"Your contemporaries are looking for the light of the world. Don't shine just within the church but take the gospel to all those in the darkness who are living difficult moments of their lives," he said.

The Pope, who looked more relaxed and sprightly than he has of late, returned for the general audience from his summer residence at Castelgandolfo, southeast of Rome.