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Pope to forge ahead with 10-day trip to Americas

Pope John Paul will go ahead with a grueling 10-day visit to Canada, Guatemala and Mexico next month, but for the first time will take time off for rest at the beginning of the trip, the Vatican said yesterday.

A Vatican spokesman had previously suggested the Holy Father might drop Mexico and Guatemala from his itinerary after attending World Day of Youth celebrations from 23 to 28 July in Toronto, Canada.

The pope appeared particularly weak during a five-day trip to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria in May, where severe mobility problems were clearly evident.

But the Vatican confirmed in yesterday's statement that the pope would visit both Guatemala and Mexico as well as Canada during his 97th official foreign journey.

However, the first couple of days in Canada have been set aside for private time, apparently so that the pope can adjust to the time change and recover from jet lag.

After the welcome ceremony at the airport he will be flown by helicopter to Strawberry Island, a summer resort on Canada's Lake Simcoe, and will not appear in public again until 25 July for a Day of Youth event in Toronto.

The pope will continue on to Guatemala city on 29 and 30 July where he is due to canonise a 17th century missionary. The last stop of the tour will be Mexico City. The pope will arrive on 30 July and leave for Rome on 1 Aug.


19 Jun 2002