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Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Pope attacks 'genetic abuse of life'
Catholic believers at the Mass
Worshippers chanted: "Poland loves you"
Pope John Paul II has warned against abuses of genetic engineering at an open-air Mass attended by more than two million people in the Polish city of Krakow.

The Pope was given a rapturous reception by the crowd at Blonia Park - the emotional highlight of the visit. It was one of the biggest gatherings of Polish Catholics ever seen.


[Man] wishes to determine human life through genetic manipulation and to establish the limits of death

Pope John Paul II
In his homily, the 82-year-old pontiff said man "frequently lives as if God does not exist and even puts himself in God's place".

The return to Krakow, the southern city where he studied, was ordained as a priest and helped the peaceful revolution against communism, has been full of nostalgia for the Pope. He joked that the locals wanted him to leave Rome and return to his homeland.

The festive atmosphere was not affected by news that Polish police had found and destroyed a suspect package - that turned out to be a dumped car battery - along the Pope's route.

Voice of God

The Pope told people at the Mass: "He [man] claims for himself a Creator's right to interfere in the mystery of human life. He wishes to determine human life through genetic manipulation and to establish the limits of death."

He said attacks on the family were a rejection of divine law and an attempt to silence the voice of God.

And he warned against the "false ideology of freedom".

Pope John Paul at the Mass
The Pope has looked frail but rejuvenated
"When the noisy propaganda of liberalism, of freedom without truth or responsibility, grows stronger in our country too, the shepherds of the church cannot fail to proclaim the one fail-proof philosophy of freedom, which is the truth of the cross of Christ," the Pope said.

During the Mass the Pope beatified four priests, including a 19th Century archbishop of Warsaw, Zygmunt Felinski, who was imprisoned in Russia under the Tsars and continued his ministry there during the period when Poland had been wiped off the European map.

The BBC's David Willey says this is hardly likely to please the Russian orthodox church, which accuses the Pope of consistently trying to poach converts in traditionally Russian lands.

Return home

Then, as he waved goodbye, the Pope told the crowd: "I would also like to say I'll see you soon, but this is entirely in the hands of God."

"Stay with us," the crowd chanted. "Ha-ha," the Pope replied. "Now you want me to desert Rome!"

The good-natured exchange came as attention focuses increasingly on John Paul's ill health - the pontiff suffers from Parkinson's disease and arthritis - and intense speculation about his health, but the Vatican says he is not planning to step down.

And the visit - the ninth to Poland since John Paul became pope - is limited to Krakow, representing a large scaling-down of the gruelling 20-city schedule he followed during his last trip to Poland three years ago.


I would also like to say I'll see you soon, but this is entirely in the hands of God

Pope John Paul
But it has rejuvenated the 82-year old, says the BBC's David Willey.

Later on Sunday he was scheduled to hold private prayers at Krakow's historic Wawel Cathedral, where Poland's kings are buried.

Afterwards, he was to visit the graves of his parents.

On Saturday, the Pope made an emotional appeal for an end to war and human suffering, on the first full day of his visit to Poland.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Brian Barron
"He was received with absolute affection from his fellow Poles"
See also:

18 Aug 02 | Europe
17 Aug 02 | Media reports
16 Aug 02 | Europe
01 Jan 01 | Science/Nature
29 Aug 00 | Europe
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