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He was the most-travelled of popes

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In Morocco, where he became the first pope to be an official guest in an Islamic nation, he told a crowd of about 80,000 young Muslims that dialogue between Christians and Muslims was more crucial than ever. "Muslims and Christians have generally understood each other badly, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed each other and even exhausted each other in polemics and wars," he said. "I think God invites us today to change our old habits. We have to respect each other and also stimulate each other in good works on the road of God."

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INDIA February, 1986

Thousands of militant Hindus demonstrated against him when John Paul made a 10-day, 14-city tour of India. The protesters, and indeed many Indians, wanted the expulsion of Catholic missionaries and a ban on conversions of Hindus to Christianity.

Ministering to the tiny flock of 12 million Catholics among a Hindu population of 750 million, however, the Pope held up the work of Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun who worked with the destitute and dying in the teeming city of Calcutta, as an example of the value of the church's mission in the country.

He called on Indian authorities to reject nuclear arms and to ensure that the country's poor and downtrodden were given a voice in the class-oriented society.

On the matter of birth control, a practice strongly encouraged by the Indian government, the Pope quoted Mohandas Gandhi: "How is the suspension of procreation to be brought about? Not by immoral and artificial checks."

"Gandhi," the pontiff said, declared that the answer lay in "a life of discipline and self-control."

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CHILE April, 1987

John Paul's visit to Chile was part of his strategy for supporting peaceful transition to democracy. Using the influence that comes with being head of the church that is followed by 80 per cent of the people of Chile, the Pope privately encouraged General Augusto Pinochet to call a presidential election (in exchange for immunity from prosecution for any crimes the general may have committed).

Publicly, however, he offered the general his support, becoming only the second head of state to visit the dictator at his official residence where, during the 1973 coup, president Salvador Allende died.

The Pope stunned critics of the Pinochet regime by saying that, despite the thousands of deaths it had caused, the Chilean government was much less malign than its counterpart in Poland.

To those who said they

favoured socialism, as practised by Mr. Allende, he cautioned: "We must not confuse the noble struggle for justice, which is the expression of respect and love for man, with a movement that sees the class struggle as the only way to eliminate class injustices in


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U.S. August, 1993

Following the practice he initiated in 1985, John Paul was the centrepiece of a week-long celebration of World Youth Day in Denver. About 350,000 people from more than 70 countries welcomed his condemnation of what he called "a culture of death" that was being imposed on Western society in general, and American society in particular.

"The family is especially under attack. And the sacred character of human life denied," he said. "Naturally, the weakest members of society are the most at risk: the unborn, children, the sick, the handicapped, the old, the poor and unemployed, the immigrant and refugee.

"Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places," he told the crowd. "This is no time to be ashamed of the gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life."

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CUBA January, 1998

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