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Thursday, July 16, 1998 Published at 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK

World: Europe

'Consider the lilies'

The Pope gives his Sunday message

Pope John Paul has said that high-tech society makes many people anonymous cogs of the labour force and urged men and women to take time out to contemplate God through the wonders of nature.

Speaking to around 1,500 people, the Pope read his Sunday message from the balcony of a house in Italy where he is spending a holiday near the Dolomite mountains near the Austrian border.

"In the era of technology our life risks becoming always more anonymous and merely a function of the production process," the 78-year-old Pope said.

"In this way, man becomes incapable of enjoying the beauties of the creator and to see in them the reflection of the face of God," he said, at the beginning of his 10-day private holiday.

The Pope, who has had a series of health problems in recent years, read his message slowly and slurred an occasional word, but otherwise appeared to be in relatively good form.

[ image: Chained to the desk ...]
Chained to the desk ...
He joked with the crowd about how his presence had kept away the rain so far and, after reading the message, walked slowly down the steps of the modern house to greet the sick, the elderly and dozens of children individually.

The Pope enjoys the picturesque mountain region because it reminds him of the Tatra mountains in his native Poland, and takes brief walks, mostly on level ground.

In the 12 months since he last took time off, the Pope has made five international trips, including his historic visit to Cuba in January, read some 800 speeches and granted some 2,500 audiences.

But during his time in Italy, the Pope enjoys the outdoors without the world's media scrutinising his faltering health.

"Even a man like the Pope has the right to a minimum of privacy once in a while," said one of his aides.

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